If you can't get your pet to the doctor, a new veterinary service will bring the hospital to you.

With outpatient care for humans becoming more and more popular, Dr. Ray Craft and his wife, soon-to-be-licensed veterinarian Deborah Dodson-Craft, figure that their traveling Petvacx is the wave of the future for animals.

While Craft, 34, admits he isn't the area's only vet making housecalls, "we're the only ones who bring the hospital with us."

Their "hospital" is a $24,000 RV stocked with veterinary equipment and medications, including a cookie jar filled with samples of pet vitamins that might help calm nervous patients.

The Crafts' bumper sticker describes Petvacx as a "low-cost mobile veterinary service." Craft himself describes his vehicle as "an alternative clinic for outpatient veterinary care."

The idea arose after Craft concluded that many animals weren't getting proper care because it was often inconvenient for pet owners to get to an animal hospital. He decided to bring the animal hospital to the pet owners.

"The reception we got from local vets was surprisingly good and surprisingly bad," notes Craft.

After five years as one of two full-time veterinarians at Montgomery County's Veterinary Emergency Clinic in Rockville, "I knew most of the vets in the area," Craft says. "Some of them toasted our opening (13 months ago) with champagne. Others, at least figuratively, tried to throw themselves under our wheels."

The Crafts charge $20 to drive their vehicle to a client's house. Service fees vary (rabies shots for $8 including a physical examination, for example). Dodson-Craft, 29, says for a household with more than one animal, the housecall still may cost less than a trip to a conventional animal hospital. Sometimes, she says, entire blocks will get together for a housecall and split the $20 fee. "We've had up to 20 people sharing