Hope for Animals
Written by Ava   

Hope springs eternal? Yes, it's true! If animals are involved and Hope Schultz is in the picture, then faith, rescue, and healing are on its way.

Hope Schultz is the president and COO of WebVet, an online pet care database she created with pal Bill Zaccheo, to channel their feelings to create an interactive pet platform that offers tips and suggestions to help animals in one place. WebVet offers resources, information, news, health & wellness tips, networking with other pet lovers, and facts

She channeled her "passion for pets" and online users are lucky enough to see the beautiful final result!

By talking to pet owners, they learned that while the Internet currently provides access to social networking, symptom searches and information on illnesses, there was something missing. That something is WebVet, an interactive and comprehensive “whole-pet” platform that addresses both the physical and emotional needs of pets.

Like Paw-Talk, WebVet is all about establishing connections with other pet enthusiasts, but it's all about proper pet education and finding tips for the best pet care resources available. For these lucky animals, though, it's all about Hope!

The bio on WebVet says you have a so-called “passion for pets.” How would you describe that?

I think I would describe “passion” in this case as both a love and a compassion for animals.  I grew up in a family where animals were a very important part of our lives.  Despite the fact that I lived in a city (Atlanta), we always had all kinds of animals in our household including dogs, rabbits, guinea pigs, fish, Iguanas and I even had a pony in my back yard – much to my father’s dismay!  My mother would take all the neighborhood kids for pony rides up and down our street.  Thank goodness our neighbors love my mom or we would have been in quite the trouble.  

My mom was constantly rescuing animals and either bringing them into our family (again, much to my father’s dismay) or finding other suitable homes for them.  The animals in our house were always treated like members of the family.  I recall at one time we had two St. Bernard’s and my mother used to cook them pancakes for breakfast every morning.  To this day, my mother’s pets still eat better than most people.  

So to say I come by my love of animals honestly, is an understatement.  It’s kind of a prerequisite for being a member of the Schultz family and is also now a prerequisite for being a member of the WebVet family.  
Do you have pets of your own?

I do and would have more but I live in a pretty small apartment in NYC.  Right now, I’m the proud mom to Max, a rescue dog from PAWS Chicago and the absolute love of my life.  (See picture above).  I also have a Quaker Parrot named Pi and until recently had a little Finch named Piou Piou, but she passed away a couple months ago.  Piou Piou was also adopted.  I used to foster her for the local French School during breaks and summer holiday because she had nowhere to go.  At the end of one summer the teacher and I decided she likely had a much better life with me than she did in a classroom, so she never went back to school.  

Describe the essence of WebVet.

WebVet is about enhancing the lives of animals. Whether it is by educating pet owners on how to be better pet parents, teaching compassion for animals or finding ways to give back to the animal community; it really is all about loving our pets -- and all animals -- in a way that provides them a happy and healthy life.  
Are you a vet or have a career in that capacity? If not, how does your site provide such expert information?

I suppose you could call me a “wanna-be” vet.  I always thought about going to vet school but didn’t think I could handle it emotionally.  I’m simply someone who loves animals and chose to find another way to try to make their lives, and their owner’s lives, better.  

Regarding our expert information . . . we realized early on that if we wanted to truly do the job we set out to do we must find partners who could bring the veterinary expertise to the table, so we did.  We now partner with what we consider to be best-in-practice industry resources including Pfizer Animal Health, AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association), the AKC, the CFA, among others.  Our medical writers are veterinarians and past editors of the Merck/Merial Veterinary Manuals and all of our content (100% regardless of its nature) is vet-approved annually.  Additionally, we created a Veterinary Advisory Council (VAC) populated by veterinarians from AAHA, Pfizer, Cornell School of Veterinary Medicine, Wildlife Conservation Society, the AKC board of directors and more.  We look to all of these organizations and individuals for guidance on a daily basis.  

What do you mean by “whole-pet” platform?

We look at pets like most people look at their children – needing both physical and emotional care and nurturing.  While I don’t have any human children, I would imagine if I did it wouldn’t simply be enough for the doctor to tell me once a year that he or she was “physically” healthy.  I would also want to make sure my child was “emotionally” healthy – well-adjusted, social, mentally stimulated, etc.  At WebVet, we believe pets should be treated with the same consideration.  Thus why we write articles about stress, anxiety, proper exercise (not just for their physical state but also their mental state), proper integration into a family, etc.

Some people would argue that the Internet is impersonal, but you say that it is a great way to handle the physical and emotional needs of pets. How is that possible?

While the Internet will NEVER take the place of the hands-on care of a good veterinarian, it is a wonderful place to supplement what they do by providing resources for news, information and education.  I think the most important thing to keep in mind here is that what pet owners want to make sure of is that what they get from the Internet is trustworthy and credible, thus why we created WebVet and why we’re so incredibly diligent about making sure it’s all vet-approved.  
What does the site offer?

Our site offers pet owners – and veterinarians it seems – credible, trusted information that helps them provide better care for their pets.  Specifically, we offer:

  • Content around four key species – dogs, cats, birds and small pets
  • A wide variety of health topics
  • A corresponding symptom search
  • A database of more than 30,000 veterinarians (searchable by zip code)
  • Feature articles ranging from human interest and lifestyle articles to news about the latest treatments and technologies.
  • Breed pages featuring photos, characteristics and medical conditions of each breed
  • Great animal videos and photos
  • A pet-friendly hotel locator.  
  • Special promotions and contests
  • Information around specific topics including:  pets and travel, holistic pet care, counseling, diet and exercise, care and safety, new pets
  • A fascinating column on animal sex: the mating rituals of animals
  • A blog called “The Daily Dish

Give me some examples of the kind of pet issues your site deals with?

We deal with a broad range of issues:

  • Specific health issues/topics (e.g. vomiting and diarrhea, cancer, hip dysplasia, feline leukemia)
  • Soft-wellness news and information (e.g. sexual frustration in birds, protecting your pets’ paws from snow and ice, swimming safety, avalanche dogs, stem cell therapy for treating arthritis, flying with your pet, etc.
  • Counseling:  how to deal with the loss of pet, estate planning for pets, who gets the dog in the divorce, how to find the right vet . . . .
  • Human interest:  the parrot that saved its family from fire, the dog that found its way home after nine years . . .
  • And yes, we do get those calls from people who have sick animals who cannot afford to treat them . . . so there is a personal component to this.  In these cases, we do our best to provide them with information on where they might seek help ranging from Care Credit, to the local ASPCA, to non-profit organizations, to teaching hospitals that have special programs to help out in these types of situations.  This is truly the most heart-wrenching part of my job as you want to be able to solve for all of these problems and it’s just not possible.

How do you look to improve the site in the future?

While we LOVE our site, we know there are many ways we can improve it and we’re constantly learning more from pet owner feedback.  

Specifically, we’ll be adding more of a sense of community to the site; digging more deeply into more prevalent health issues; adding additional features that will provide pet owners with more tools to better manage their pet’s health; and offering features that will present a more personal interaction with the veterinary community.  You should see a few of these news sections/features by year end.  

And, we’re always open to ideas so please feel free to pass anything you hear along!