Kim Hunter launched her Vet to Pet Mobile Service in April 2016. (Facebook Photo)

Vet works out of caravan to provide pet care in remote Northwest

Over 40 feral cats were spayed in the Nass Valley in November

Forget the Batmobile, there’s a new heroic vehicle driving around — and it’s here to save the animals.

With a caravan full of medical supplies and an operating table, veterinarian Kim Hunter owns her own ‘vetmobile’ to provide pet care primarily to remote First Nations communities throughout the Northwest region.

This month, she visited the Nass Valley to spay over 40 feral cats as part of the SPCA BC’s initiative to keep population numbers low. Hunter has been working through her Pet to Vet Mobile Service, travelling to help low-income households with their pets.

“I know there are people who live pretty rough and when we go up there, I don’t know how to help them but I know it’s important to build a bridge,” says Hunter. “It’s amazing having something in common like [interacting over] someone’s pet and then all of a sudden, you can communicate.”

She says that oftentimes during her visits, kids will come around and want to know more about her work. By trying to teach them how to brush their pets and care for them, she says she hopes to eventually implement an education program into the schools.

“They do want to look after their own pets but for a lot of them, they just don’t have the money.”

READ MORE: B.C. vet association bans cat declawing across province

When it comes to spaying or neutering operations for pets, it can be expensive. Costs can range between $150 to $400, as Hunter has to purchase medicine from out of town and pay her staff. She also runs a clinic in Smithers, where there’s still overhead costs that need to be paid when she’s away.

Sometimes, she says in order to operate on as many animals as possible during her visits, there isn’t enough money left over for a cut for herself.”

“These are interesting challenges, I really like the work but the trouble is finding the money,” says Hunter. “Fundraising is tough as there are so many things that need funding.”

Last year, Hunter partnered with Paws for Hope, an organization that stands for sustainable animal welfare and protection, which has helped her with the funds to carry out her vet services.

Kathy Powelson, executive director and founder of Paws for Hope, says that the work Hunter does is invaluable. She says she believes Hunter is the only vet in B.C. that operates directly out of a trailer.

“Her ability to move around is huge and the north is so massive, it’d be ideal if there was more than just one [vet doing this],” says Powelson. “She’s been really committed to working with the communities, providing veterinary care is important for the animals and to stop unwanted litters.”

READ MORE: Animals moved from B.C. Interior shelters to make way for pets displaced by wildfire

Although over $20,000 has been given, with some SPCA grants included, there still isn’t enough money to help everyone. She offers subsidized pricing, but even that can be too much for low-income families.

“It’s getting really difficult because I can’t make people understand why I can’t help their dogs,” says Hunter.

Hunter says that there have been incidents where unneutered dogs would show aggression and end up biting people. In fear of letting them loose, many owners tie their dogs to the porch.

Unfortunately, some end up freezing to death in the winters.

And in some extreme cases, residents have to take desperate measures to protect themselves from threatening canines. With no euthanization available, their hunting rifles are the only solution.

“Some villages have a hit list, so any dog that isn’t fixed, everyone knows it… If they get out of the yard and aren’t fixed — they get shot.”

For Hunter, she says she’s never had any background working with First Nations but is learning a lot from her visits. Residents will come out to help gather animals and a local nurse or RCMP constable will then often assist with bringing furry patients home after their surgeries. There were even two villages that fundraised between $5,000 to $10,000 on their own to help ease the veterinary costs in their communities.

“It’s gratifying to be so welcomed with open arms, they feed us and they’re just so happy to have their pets looked after.”


 


natalia@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

 

The 30-foot caravan travels through northwest B.C. to provide veterinary care in remote communities. (Facebook Photo)

(Facebook Photo)

Just Posted

Fire ban back in effect for Northwest Fire Centre region

Starting May 24, both Category 2 and Category 3 prohibitions will be in place

Kelowna company wins contract for LNG Canada project in Kitimat

SK Form & Finish will work with equivalent of 4,000 fully loaded concrete trucks

U.S. tariffs on Canadian aluminium scrapped

Joint effort by industry, government and unions secures deal

Rio Tinto BC Works watching Nechako reservoir levels closely

Dropping water levels could threaten power generation operations

VIDEO: Canadian breaks women’s world record for longest plank

Dana Glowacka, of Montreal, held a plank for four hours and 20 minutes

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

PHOTOS: First responders in Fernie rescue baby owl who fell from nest

The baby owl’s inability to fly back to its nest prompted a rescue by first responders

Five takeaways from the Court of Appeal ruling on B.C.’s pipeline law

It’s unclear how many tools are left in B.C.’s toolbox to fight the project

B.C. port workers set to strike on Monday in Vancouver

A strike at two container terminals would affect Canadian trade to Asia

Scheer says it would take Conservatives five years to balance budget

Scheeraccused the Liberal government of spending $79.5 billion of previously unbudgeted funds

Most Read