Wholesome complement of veterinarians could be the cat’s whisker

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Author of the article:

Nadine Robinson Nadine Robinson and Reese had a “good experience” with the emergency doctor on call. Delivered

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“We’re not taking in new patients,” I heard when friends tried to see a family doctor, but it wasn’t until last month that I realized it was a pet. I know people should be priority, but lately I like pets more than people. I can see my vote support a candidate who also considers pets to be components. (Yeah, that’s maybe a step closer to anyone who calls me the only crazy cat lady.)

After years of writing for the Northern Ontario Medical Journal, I knew family doctors (or the lack of them) were a problem for us less hairy animals, but I was dropped into the deep end of the pool with my furry friends than I was one took care of a couple of kittens, one that turned out to be terminally ill, and then my own cat’s health deteriorated rapidly.

It was difficult to navigate the rules of who was there to help, whose role was what, and why this was so difficult.

If we don’t have our own GP in humans, at least we have the hospital emergency room and Telehealth Ontario. We know where to go.

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Not so with pets. We have an on-call vet, but there is no veterinary clinic here, nor can we make a free phone call to ask an urgent health question. I felt like the Titanic navigating the animal care system through waters full of icebergs.

On Friday, my cat hadn’t eaten or drunk in days and barely moved. No veterinarians took in new patients. My only option was the on-call ambulance despite hearing horror stories about the use of this service and trying to avoid it. I had a good experience and I am grateful for the professional guidance I received at Black Road Veterinary Services.

Here are some of the icebergs I know:

– Sault Ste. Marie does not have a vet on the city staff to ensure spay and neuter clinics are run inexpensively and reliably.

– We don’t have a spay and neuter cell phone.

– The Sault does not have city programs to ensure that low-income citizens have access to fun and neutral services.

– We have a combination of cat and dog care organizations that don’t seem to play well together. Some are too quick to be euthanized. Some are hard to name organizations.

– Caring for kittens is one thing, not only a dream, it can turn into a nightmare. Before you sign up to promote little loved ones, know the risks.

– Just outside of Sault Ste. Marie, there are no statutes about cats, it’s the wild west (and east).

– No local vets are currently accepting new fur patients. The inn is full.

– We don’t have an emergency veterinary clinic. We have an on-call veterinarian but there is no regulation of the price of these services and I have been told that they vary widely.

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– Many veterinary services are cheaper in the US

– An organization told me that crossing the border to see the vet in the US is not an essential service.

– Some pet owners who had the U.S. vet say Canadian vets are reluctant to treat their pets during COVID.

– There is a “new” animal welfare service in the province that nobody seems to know about.

– A vet tried to hire another vet for two years with no luck.

– Another local vet is currently trying to sell his practice and retire.

This shows me that we have space to better improve, clarify and understand the landscape. I am concerned that if we are facing recruitment issues and pending retirements, if we don’t want to end up with a stray pet issue, we should prioritize now. We have doctors recruiting for people. Perhaps it is time the city got involved in recruiting one or more important doctors that we need in our community: veterinarians.

Nadine Robinson’s column appears every second Wednesday. She can be reached at the.ink.writer@gmail.com or on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at @theinkran

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