The Red Deer and District SPCA have hired an in-house veterinarian making them better equipped to deal with animal health issues at the shelter.
The part-time position was recently filled and so far the new addition has proved to be a success.
As part of the new building, a medical area was built with the goal of hiring a veterinarian for the shelter.
“I feel like I’m making a difference,” said Kimberly Toovey, veterinarian with the SPCA. “I’m able to give these animals the best opportunity for a second chance before going to their forever homes.”
Toovey, who has been practicing since 2001 in Red Deer, is employed part-time at the SPCA. She also practices privately in the community.
She added the main goal of having an onsite veterinarian is to be able to surgically alter animals before they go to their permanent homes.
“That is going to be a big change for the SPCA,” said Toovey, as she adds previously animals would have the surgery done at other local vet clinics before they were given to their new owners. “This will reduce costs as far as the organization goes.
“And of course we’ll also be able to closely monitor the animals and make sure they are all in good health.”
Kirsten Thomson, animal health technologist with the SPCA said a lot of the animals brought into the shelter require some type of veterinary care.
“Having Dr. Toovey means so much to the shelter,” she said. “Just having the expertise at our fingertips is so incredible. It’s been something that we’ve needed for a long time.”
Julie McInnis, executive director for the Red Deer and District SPCA said having a part-time veterinarian on site provides that much more credibility to the organization.
“People don’t often think of us as a business because we are a registered charity but we have expenses and revenues just the same as everyone else,” she said. “The more credible and recognized we are in the community the more helpful that is in terms of donations and support from community members.”
Thomson added having veterinary service at the SPCA will also lower the cost of adoptions because the animals can be spayed or neutered at the facility, which in turn will help the community.
In addition, McInnis said the SPCA anticipates they will be able to provide 90% of the veterinary care that is required at the facility.
“We don’t have x-ray equipment so we’re obviously limited in that capacity, but we are able to take care of most other things here,” she said.
The new veterinary service at the SPCA is only meant for the animals who are currently being sheltered at the facility. The SPCA is unable to take clients from the community or else they are at risk to lose their license, McInnis said.
“We won’t be open to the public,” she said.
Meanwhile, Thomson said the recent ringworm outbreak in the cat population at the shelter would have been devastating had the SPCA not been in its new building and with Toovey’s help, the illness was quickly contained.
“Without our new facility and with Dr. Toovey coming on at the right time, the ringworm outbreak would have been much more costly,” she said.
Toovey added if the SPCA was in their old facility, the solution probably would have been to de-populate but instead, the SPCA was able to save those lives.
“We were able to save about 130 lives,” she said.