With Canada’s government moving forward with a ban on importing non-perishable animals, many vets and animal welfare groups are now looking to the U.S. to provide veterinary care for some of the animals they care for.
“I think it is great to have our own veterinarian,” says Kathy Gage, an Edmonton veterinarian who works with a group of animal welfare activists that has been trying to help animals.
Gage is a member of a group called VetVet, which is calling for veterinary care in Canada to be offered to animals.
She says she and her colleagues would prefer to have vets in Canada do the work themselves, rather than relying on the U,S.
“It’s an easy, inexpensive way for the vets in the U to get the work done, whereas it’s much more difficult for the vet in Alberta, and we can’t do it,” she says.
Gages group has been lobbying the government for a ban since 2011.
“This is a really good opportunity for the government to make a change in the way the government works, and to provide for animal welfare,” she adds.
But it won’t be easy.
There’s no official agreement on the subject.
Canada has the largest veterinary health care system in the world, and the country has some of its largest animal hospitals.
“We have a really complex and nuanced relationship with the U.” says Dr. Elizabeth Johnson, a veterinarian and president of the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.
She also represents a group that is calling on the government not to impose a ban.
“What we are really looking for is for the federal government to recognize the need for veterinary services in Alberta and to work with the provinces to come up with a humane and responsible way to provide that,” she explains.
The U.K. and Australia have been considering similar proposals, but they have yet to pass legislation.
Gage says there are more than 200,000 dogs in Alberta alone, and she has heard from vets who have concerns about what it will take to get their pets the care they need.
“There’s a lot of people who are not able to get access to their animals, and they can’t even get a cat,” she points out.
“That’s really unfortunate.”
Johnson is one of those vets.
She and her group are hoping that if Canada can provide the animal care that vets are looking for, it could be a game-changer for the country.
“If we can get a lot more veterinarians in Alberta in the next year, it’s going to change things,” she insists.
“In Alberta, there is a lot that we can do to make sure that there is more veterinary care.
We have a lot to learn.”
Gage says the idea of veterinary care being offered in Canada has been brewing for a while, but now is the time to move it forward.
“You can’t just sit back and wait for the ban to go away, you have to get it implemented,” she stresses.
The National Veterinary Association of Canada says it’s working with the federal and provincial governments to determine the details of how veterinarians can be offered the care that they need to help make animals happy.
They hope to work out a plan with the government as soon as possible.
“The veterinary community is extremely excited about this opportunity to provide animal care in Alberta,” says Dr .
Trevor Lacey, an assistant professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Calgary.
Lacey has been studying veterinary care at the university for over 20 years.
He says there is an enormous need in Alberta.
“When I look at the numbers of people that are getting sick, or dying of disease, and how many pets are euthanized every year in Alberta because of euthanasia, I can’t help but wonder if there’s a real need for veterinarians here in the province,” he says.
“So I think that is something we are definitely looking at.”