24/7 EMERGENCY PET CARE
Some animal emergency services offered in Port Alberni, but drive to Nanaimo may be necessary
Keri Sculland, Alberni Valley Times -Published: Wednesday, October 17, 2012
Pet owners in Port Alberni are becoming concerned with the distance they may have to travel in the event of an animal emergency after hours.
Since the spring, Port Alberni veterinarians have not offered 24-hour emergency care for pets. Previously, the four clinics in the city took turns being on-call for emergencies, but the system is no longer in place.
Carol Sexton and Jeanette Saxby are two concerned residents who are looking for a solution to their worries.
Carol Sexton has created a petition to reinstate on-call emergency care for pets in the Alberni Valley. Currently, owners must travel to Nanaimo most of the time to receive emergency care for their pets.
Last week, Saxby picked a cat up from the road that had been severely injured after being hit by a car. With nowhere to take the cat, Saxby brought it home and did her best to help it throughout the night.
Saxby, 70, is unable to drive at night. With her involvement in Sunshine Club, she understands that many pet owners might be in the same situation.
It is difficult for veterinarians in Port Alberni to provide emergency services, Dr. Patty Radcliffe from Pacific Rim Veterinary Hospital said that because the Nanaimo hospital deals specifically with emergencies, pets would receive better care from that clinic.
Having on-call doctors in Port Alberni does not mean animals will be cared for immediately, she added. Sometimes it can take upwards of half an hour to an hour before veterinarians can make it into their office, set up and prepare to deal with the situation at hand.
“I understand it is not easy to drive down there with an upset pet,” Radcliffe sympathized. “A pet that goes to a 24-hour dedicated emergency clinic receives better care.”
A lot of equipment and skill goes into handling a myriad of emergency situations, and in some cases, Port Alberni veterinarians were unable to help, and pets were sent to Nanaimo anyway.
In the past, the only dedicated emergency clinic was in Victoria. Pets from Port Alberni were being transported there for treatment of their injuries, Radcliffe explained. With the clinic in Nanaimo, owners and pets do not have to travel as far.
In addition, the emergency clinic in Nanaimo charges much less than the recommended fee, which was what Port Alberni charged.
Even still, Sexton and Saxby want to see more care in Port Alberni.
“It gives me a sense of security to know these guys are OK,” Sexton said about her three Chihuahuas.
Since she began her quest for care, Sexton has heard too many sad stories about animals not making it to clinics on time.
She has created a petition, which is available at The Purple Paw, Shar-Kare Feeds and Pet Supplies, Swale Rock Cafe and Animal Ark.
Sexton is waiting to see if the petition catches on. In the mean time, she wants to write letters to the city council and the Alberni-Clayoquot Regional District to see if she can gather more support.
In Port Alberni, Manzini Animal Hospital has veterinarians on call two days per week and two weekends per month. Other animal hospitals in Port Alberni either did not provide after-hour emergency service or were not available for comment at this time.