Nighttime pet emergency? Why you may soon be headed to the AVC

Vet services on P.E.I. are changing. Starting on Jan. 6, the Atlantic Veterinary College's teaching hospital will serve as the small animal after-hours emergency clinic for most private clinics on the Island. 

Every clinic in P.E.I. has to provide emergency 24-hour care year-round as a requirement of the Prince Edward Island Veterinary Medical Association. Clinics answer emergency calls themselves, and some have joined up with other clinics to rotate emergency care.  

"The Island vets kept asking for it," said Dr. Heather Gunn McQuillan, director at the teaching hospital, explaining that clients now call their regular vet clinics for help after hours. 

"That could happen at seven o'clock at night, it could happen at 2 o'clock in the morning, and if the animal is really sick, then their vet has to refer them to us to specialty care. This way they won't have to do that at all," she said. 

"A lot more efficient'

The service is voluntary and vet clinics have to sign up. Each clinic pays a small monthly subscription to the AVC for the service, and have the choice to opt out of the program at any time.

Natalia Goodwin/CBC

Gunn McQuillan said so far, 11 clinics from the eastern end of the province to Summerside have signed up with the AVC.

For those concerned about travel times in an emergency, she said she believes the new program will streamline the process for pet owners. 

"For serious emergencies, a lot of them were being referred to us anyway after seeing their regular veterinarian," she said. "We'd heard cases where they were waiting up to an hour to get a call back."

"We actually think it's going to be a lot more efficient," she said. "For the vast majority of pet owners this is going to be a huge, huge asset for them."

As for fees, the AVC is working with private vet clinics to ensure its prices are similar to what a client would pay at their regular clinic for emergency care. 

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