For the foreseeable future, the majority of after hours, on-call emergencies for animals in Cranbrook will be looked after by Tanglefoot clinic, with the help of other local vets. This includes house pets like dogs and cats, as well as farm animals. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)

For the foreseeable future, the majority of after hours, on-call emergencies for animals in Cranbrook will be looked after by Tanglefoot clinic, with the help of other local vets. This includes house pets like dogs and cats, as well as farm animals. (Corey Bullock/Cranbrook Townsman file)

Emergency veterinarian services in Cranbrook to see changes this week

Steeples Vet Clinic will temporarily be suspending after hours, on-call emergencies

Emergency veterinarian services in Cranbrook will be seeing some changes this week as Steeples Veterinary Clinic has announced a temporary pause in after hours on-call services while they deal with staff and building transitions.

As the Townsman reported last week, veterinarians have been under intense pressure during the pandemic, some of which has to do with a boom in pet populations.

Over the past year and a half of pandemic life, people across North America have turned to their pets for comfort, exercise and companionship. Many people spent the first few months of the pandemic welcoming a new furry family member to their bubble.

READ: Veterinarians facing intense pressure from pandemic pet boom

On May 30th, Steeples posted to their Facebook page stating that they are currently doing an extensive renovation and addition to their building in order to offer services to their constantly growing number of clients.

“We have new team members set to arrive, and more about that will be coming soon,” Steeples said in the post. “We are temporarily suspending the after hours on-call coverage that we have supplied to this community for over 30 years because our facility and staff team are in a state of transition.”

Andrew Skaien, Director of Administration with Steeples, confirmed that the clinic is still open during their regular hours for both emergency services and all of the other services they offer.

Steeples explained in their post that they have offered on-call coverage for other veterinary clinics in the past.

“All we are asking is that at this time you, our dear clients, as well as other veterinary professionals in the area, give us a period of grace and understanding while we re-vamp and get ready to come back with the care and service we’ve been known for. It’s going to be great and we are excited.”

Jeff Cooper, Practice Manager with Tanglefoot Veterinary Services, explained that for the time being their clinic, with the help of other vets, will be servicing the majority of after-hours emergency calls.

A veterinarian from North Star in Kimberley, two vets at Tanglefoot in Fernie, and a private, local, part-time vet will be added to the roster for emergency calls for at least the next three months, Cooper says. These vets are not directly part of the Cranbrook Tanglefoot clinic but have offered to help with emergencies.

“It’s a challenge for sure, but it’s so amazing to have that support,” said Cooper. “Some of our vets are small animal only, so even when they’re on call, we still need to have a mixed animal vet on call too. This means these people are taking more time away from their family — they can’t, for example, leave to go camping for the weekend.”

Cooper says that a new veterinarian recently started working at Tanglefoot as well, and a recently graduated veterinary technician has accepted a full-time position. They have also placed an ad to hire another full-time mixed animal veterinarian to the team.

“The expectation to take on double the amount of emergency work with very short notice is unfortunate,” said Cooper, adding that the clinic asks for the community to understand the circumstances and practice patience.

In addition to getting outside help, another step Tanglefoot has taken to help handle full-time emergency services is to invest in a professional call-service that will help to manage after hours emergency calls.

“We have engaged a professional veterinary triage service where the clients get to talk directly to an experienced Registered Veterinary Technician when they call for emergencies. This will allow us to be more immediately responsive to clients and their pets, as well as help to provide professional back-up for our veterinarians.”

Although challenging, Cooper says vets, technicians and staff are doing everything they can.

“We want to let people know that we are doing our utmost to maintain services and be here for the entire community,” said Cooper. “It creates a huge challenge, but our staff are dedicated to being here for all pet owners who have after-hours emergencies.”

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