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The problem is very real.
That problem is the lack of 24-hour care for pets in Penticton and the South Okanagan.
“This evening if you, a loved one, or a friend has a pet requiring care and you call your local veterinary clinic, you will be met by a machine that will say ‘Go to Kelowna’,” offered Keith Boswell, the representative for South Okanagan After Hours Pet Care.
During Tuesday’s Committee of the Whole council meeting at Penticton City Hall, Boswell asked mayor and council for support.
“Due to COVID, veterinarians were deemed an essential service. We are fortunate to have a number of local veterinary clinics in our community,” offered Boswell. “Their veterinary doctors, as well as their staff — are great people, compassionate, skilled and well educated.
“If your dog or cat gets sick in the middle of the night, your only option is driving your pet to Kelowna, provided you have transportation to get there.”
In fact, Fairfield Animal Hospital in Kelowna, promotes itself in the following way: “We are the ONLY 24 Hour Emergency Veterinary Hospital for the Okanagan Valley. We are fully staffed 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, including all holidays.”
I can speak from first hand knowledge. When Leo my cat got sick last fall at my Penticton home, and his condition worsened into the evening, the only help was in Kelowna, an hour drive away. I made an appointment and raced up to Kelowna to hopefully alleviate his pain, only to find out his sickness was terminal. Leo didn’t make it home that night.
“There have been a number of heartbreaking situations where lack of local pet care has turned into tragedy,” continued Boswell, whose group wants to work with local veterinarians to find a solution. “Community mental health is of primary concern. Pets are a cherished member of the family and a great remedy for someone who suffers loneliness or depression, especially our seniors.
“Based on a March, 2018 council report, Penticton's over 65 population is expected to lead the population growth at 77%.”
South Okanagan After Hours Pet Care is open to all options — from a fully equipped emergency clinic, to local triage, stabilization, and pain management care.
“Animals deserve to be treated humanely. Forcing a pet in agony to endure a one-hour plus journey is inhumane and is emotionally hard on their owner,” summarized Boswell. “Cities of similar size or smaller than Penticton offer After Hours vet services.
“Pet owners of our community need our mayor and council to please help influence the needed change to after hour’s pet care.”
Once Boswell's presentation was completed, he was queried by councillor Katie Robinson as to whether local veterinarians could get on a rotating schedule to help pet owners.
"All of the vets have been contacted by a hand-delivered letter encouraging them to do exactly as you've described," responded Boswell. "We have not received a positive response in terms of that yet. We're asking the veterinarians to leave the door open so we can have further discussions."
Click here to email Boswell and South Okanagan After Hours Pet Care and find out how you can help.
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