Pet owners in the Cowichan Valley will have one less clinic available if their pet needs emergency treatment in the middle of the night.
Come September 1st, Westcoast Animal Veterinary Emergency Specialty Hospital (WAVES) will be shutting down its emergency services for the time being.
Erinne Branter, a veterinarian with WAVES, says it’s been hard to keep staff around for such a demanding task.
“It’s a hard industry,” Branter says, “it’s not about the finances, it’s about opening the doors and committing to something very demanding. Staffing that as well. We’ve seen closures in human hospitals that’ve been established, government-funded businesses, and they’ve barely got people to run them.”
When they were hit by COVID, their staff was forced to double in order to pick up shifts and keep the 24/7 emergency services running.
She says despite the pause, they hope to get it back up and running in the next three to six months.
“We don’t want to overpromise and underdeliver, but that’s probably the timeframe which we’re looking at. For pet owners, that can seem like a very long time.”
In the meantime, specialty services will still be offered, such as neurology, but it will be for clients with referrals.
“I just want to let people know that we understand what [the pause in service] means to them,” ended Branter, “we appreciate both to our colleagues and to other emergency services that support us through this transition.”
Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital in Nanaimo is one of the few other places that offers 24/7 emergency services.
“We are not experiencing the same issues that WAVES has,” wrote Teresa Fraser, practice manager for the hospital. “I really feel for them right now. I’ve made it my top priority to keep our hospital staffed with experienced highly trained emergency trained veterinary professionals 24/7. Even during the pandemic we always remained open. The only set back we currently have is space/kennels/runs for all the pets we see, as you can imagine it’s a large volume.”
Fraser says they’re currently working on finding a larger facility.