Lack of vet services raising concerns
KRISTIN GARDINER kristin.gardiner @saltwire.com @KristinGardiner
KENSINGTON, P.E.I. – The loss of some services at a local veterinary clinic has central P.E.I. animal owners concerned about the future. In early February the Kensington Veterinary Clinic (KVC) told clients that as of March 1 it would no longer provide service to horses, pigs and birds. Upon receiving the letter, Julia Smith of Indian River said she felt, “panic, fear, sick to my stomach.” Smith helps her parents with their farm, Briarrose Stables; they have been a client at KVC ever since they started keeping horses – around 50 years ago. “They’ve been great. Any time we’ve had an emergency, they’re here,” said Smith. “They’re great to deal with.” Determined not to leave her animals without care, Smith got to work trying to find an alternative solution. She told SaltWire Network that she reached out to other vets in P.E.I. hoping that someone would be able to step in. “None of them are able to take on any new clients,” said Smith. “One, because they’re already busy in their own district. Two, it’s too far for most of them to drive this far.” Without a vet, getting medications and a prescription for the horses is more difficult. The only option available for her horses, she said, is that the Atlantic Veterinary College (AVC) in Charlottetown can tend to them in an emergency – if she can transport them there. “But there’s a ton of cases where you can’t do that,” said Smith’s mother, Beth Smith. “(Where) it’s just absolutely impossible, inhumane and dangerous to do that.” According to the AVC website, the college also provides an ambulatory equine service, which provides horses with on-farm primary and emergency care. Having an emergency with no way to get her animal to Charlottetown quickly and safely, said Smith, is her biggest fear. “How are you going to put an animal with a broken leg in a horse trailer, with no pain medication at that, and haul them down to the vet college?” she said. OWNERS CONCERNED Smith and her mother are not alone in their concerns. Christina Lecky of Bracken Hill Stable is also worried for her equines. One of Lecky’s horses, Darling Jane, had a difficult labour when she foaled last year. Her placenta took 12 hours to deliver; it becomes life-threatening after 10. “This mare, if I hadn’t had Kensington emergency vet care in a timeline manner, she wouldn’t be here,” said Lecky. Knowing how crucial a nearby vet can be, Lecky worries about what would happen if similar situations arose in the future, with the closest emergency vet almost an hour away. “Today, if I had had an emergency and called (the Atlantic Vet College), they would not be able to help me in a timely manner,” said Lecky. Her biggest fear, she said, is one of her horses experiencing an emergency, suffering and dying before it can receive care. “It’s a pretty sad situation.” Although they do not have a vet for the foreseeable future, Smith said the horse owners in the group have been offering to assist each other when needed – even if it’s just little things, like lending a trailer. “(We’re) just trying to come up with some kind of a solution,” said Smith. “Where are we gonna go, what are we gonna do, how are we gonna deal with everything that’s going on, how can we support one another, what procedures should we take to approach the government, the medical association, to find a solution? How can we work together to help them help us?” SaltWire Network has reached out to Kensington Veterinary Clinic for comment but has not yet received a response.