The Visiting Veterinarian

Outside of the Teen Centre in the lower half of the community centre, you may see a gathering of happy individuals. Tails wagging, wet noses and an occasional howl. Not your usual teens, these are the four-legged type, canines to be exact.

Veterinarian Dr. Mark Bergen and Lori Spoklie, an animal healthcare technician travel from their Chetwynd practice, Chetwynd Veterinary Clinic, to Tumbler Ridge the last Thursday of every month, to service the healthcare needs of dogs located in this community.

Bergen, who became a Veterinarian following high school, graduated from Western Canada?s Veterinary College, located in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan and is the only Veterinarian School in Western Canada. He grew up with a dog in his home, but had a real love of horses. Growing up in a town, he later spent time with horses and decided that becoming a veterinarian would be a rewarding career.

?It is so rewarding to help an animal in need, but also very frustrating to do as much as possible to save an animal and then lose them.? Hi draw to become a vet has not been one without some challenges. ?You have long hours and are on call at any time.? True enough, it?s not like you can turn off the phone. Animals have emergencies and you need to take care of them right away.

Kept busy is an understatement. When asked if reserving a day for Tumbler Ridge affects the Chetwynd practice, Bergen shakes his head. ?We have a full day here.? Approximately 25 appointments were scheduled that day with people popping in to ask advice on everything from behavioral problems to concerns about their pet.

As for how the Visiting Veterinarian came about, Lori Spoklie says that there are currently a large number of Tumbler Ridge clients. With the background of a vet who used to come for a day of appointments a few years ago, the need was there. For the past year and half at least, they have driven the road to and from Chetwynd, often transporting animals to the hospital for surgery and back again.

Primarily they are limited to exams, shots and puppy checks while in the makeshift clinic. When they first set up in town, they were working out of the home of a dog groomer who has since moved away. Then they took to working out of resident?s home garage.

Due to bylaw, the community Centre cannot allow animals in the conference rooms and it was through Janet Delpieere, associated with the Teen Centre, who initiated to have the clinic in the Teen Centre, where there is an outside access door into the back parking lot.

The Chetwynd Veterinary Clinicl is partnered with P.A.L.S. (Pets And Loving Seniors), which is an ongoing fundraiser done through bottle drive to help seniors with the healthcare costs of man?s best friend. Donated bottles for the fund can be dropped off at the bottle depot in Tumbler Ridge, or by contacting Lynn Way 242-4624 for pick-up.