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Central Coast Vet Services expands amid surge in demand for curbside pet care



Dr. Raffy Dorian thought he was going to have to shut down his practice.

Five years ago, Dorian opened Central Coast Veterinary Services, one of the first mobile vet practices in San Luis Obispo. It quickly became a hit in the community.

"I think it's really the low stress, the convenience, and the communication," said Dorian, a Cal Poly alumnus. "It started to get busy enough where I wasn't able to keep up."

But when COVID-19 hit last year, suddenly, Dorian's model of bringing veterinary care directly to SLO County homes seemed practically impossible.

"It was tough at first," Dorian said. "I was basically going to shut down. ... A week after the whole thing started, I brainstormed and said, 'I gotta get a van or RV.'"

Dorian did buy a van, and he started to take his services curbside—fully stocking the vehicle with medicine, a fold-down table, and other supplies.

With that tweak, his clients could remain COVID-19 safe, while still saving a trip to the vet, reducing stress on their pet, and getting face-to-face time with Dorian—something that most traditional vet offices had to stop doing during the pandemic.

"You go to a regular vet now, and you can't go in. It's tough. It's tough for communication," Dorian said.

Dorian's quick pivot jump-started Central Coast Veterinary Services again—putting it right back on its pre-pandemic trajectory.

"That saved the business for sure," he said.

Recently, Dorian announced that he's expanding his practice, adding two new vets, Dr. Daniel Gutman and Dr. Molly McElrath, who will help him expand his service area to nearly all of SLO County—"Paso to Arroyo Grande," he said.

"It's nice to be in a growth place," Dorian said.

After working for several years in San Diego, where he was one of the first vets in that area to offer mobile pet care, Dorian moved back to SLO County in 2016 to start his current practice. He said the Central Coast's natural beauty makes it a great place to do what he does.

"It's a good lifestyle for the vet. We're driving in a beautiful area," he said.

Central Coast Veterinary Services focuses its care on dogs, cats, and horses. Dorian said he's "big on preventative care," and offers Eastern therapies like acupuncture, but he also does surgeries in his Morro Bay surgical suite and house call euthanizations.

"We're trying to minimize the stress for everybody," he said.

Dorian said that while the mobile vet model comes at a slightly higher price tag for customers than traditional vet practices, the benefits for pets and their owners are numerous.

"It's always amazing," he said, "these pets, when we're done they're going toward the van. They're not running away. We try to make our visit a pleasant one."

You can reach Dorian and the Central Coast Veterinary Services team at or (805) 316-1990.

Fast facts

Re:Find Distillery in Paso Robles recently received the Small Business of the Year award from state Assemblymember Jordan Cunningham (R-SLO) for the 35th District. Owned by Alex and Monica Villicana, Re:Find was the first local distillery to start producing hand sanitizer at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Cunningham's office, donating more than 300 gallons of product to nursing homes, fire departments, health care organizations, nonprofits, and restaurants. "Despite experiencing their own hardships and uncertainties over the past year, small businesses across the Central Coast stepped up to help," Cunningham said in a statement. "Alex, Monica, and the entire Re:Find team deserve credit for finding a way to repurpose their equipment to benefit our community."

McCarthy's car dealership in SLO, in partnership with Family Care Network, presented three local families with free vehicles on Aug. 19. "These families have been identified as families who would benefit greatly by having their own vehicle by Family Care Network and Social Services," McCarthy General Manager Chris Wesney said in an email. "McCarthy's will be donating these vehicles and others as part of our community outreach program." Δ

Assistant Editor Peter Johnson wrote this week's Strokes and Plugs. Reach him at [email protected].

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