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

Jason Scott performs in Terrace to celebrate Neil Diamond’s music

As a tribute artist, he says it’s important to keep his songs alive

SAR leads helicopter Family Day rescue to retrieve injured climber

Pilot had to hover over waterfall as rescue team lifted two people to safety

Canadian Snowbirds may return to Terrace after 20 years

Terrace would kick off three B.C. Snowbird performances in 2020 if approved

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

City of Terrace reacts to $8 million provincial infrastructure grant

This is the largest grant ever received by the city, mayor says

Students give two thumbs up to no more B.C. student loan interest

Eliminating the loan interest charges could save the average graduate $2,300 over 10 years

Ontario man accused of killing 11-year-old daughter dies in hospital, police say

Roopesh Rajkumar had been hospitalized with what police described as a self-inflicted gunshot wound

Manitoba ‘pauses’ link with ex-B.C. premier Gordon Campbell after allegations

Campbell had been hired to review two major hydro projects

Heritage minute features Japanese-Canadian baseball team, internment

The Vancouver Asahi baseball team won various championships across the Pacific Northwest

UPDATE: Woman, off-duty cop in critical condition after stabbing outside B.C. elementary school

The officer was interceding in an alleged assault when he and the woman were stabbed

$10-a-day child care not in 2019 budget, but advocate not irked

Sharon Gregson with the Coalition of Child Care Advocates of B.C. says NDP on track to deliver promise

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died: B.C. police watchdog

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Most Read