Kim Hunter launched her Vet to Pet Mobile Service in April 2016. (Facebook Photo)

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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

 

The 30-foot caravan travels through northwest B.C. to provide veterinary care in remote communities. (Facebook Photo)

The 30-foot caravan travels through northwest B.C. to provide veterinary care in remote communities. (Facebook Photo)

(Facebook Photo)

(Facebook Photo)

Just Posted

Rose Sawka, a 91-year old Acropolis Manor resident received her COVID-19 vaccination on Jan. 20, one day after an outbreak was declared at the long-term care facility. Her son Terry Sawka visited with her through the window, like she is seen in an Oct. 2020 photo. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Acropolis Manor COVID-19 cases jump to 20 confirmed

Prince Rupert long term care facility received vaccinations

Illicit drug use has spread in the Northern Health region and overdose emergency calls increased in Prince Rupert by 29.5 per cent from 2019 to 2020. (Photo:THE NEWS/files)
Overdose emergency calls in Prince Rupert spikes by 43.6 % in five years

Northern Health issues illicit drug use warnings

Glenn Hall, resident at Yellowhead Pioneer Residence Assisted Living in Barrierem B.C. received their first COVID-19 vaccinations on Jan. 19. (Pam Simpson photo)
Acropolis residents and staff to receive COVID-19 vaccine

Prince Rupert long term care residents will receive the vaccine on Jan. 20

An outbreak of COVID-19 was declared on Jan. 19 at Acropolis Manor. The long-term care home also had an influenza outbreak nearly two years ago.
COVID-19 outbreak declared at Acropolis Manor

Prince Rupert long-term care home has four resident, three staff cases

Lax Kxeen Elementary School has two different active notices for potential COVID-19 exposure after three adult lab-confirmed cases of the virus were identified in Prince Rupert schools, School District 52 released in a statement on Jan. 18. (Photo K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Three adult COVID-19 cases result in four potential exposures in city schools

Prince Rupert School District 52 calls special open meeting

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

(Black Press Media files)
Transport Canada not budging on enclosed deck rules, despite calls from BC Ferries union

There have been at least 23 cases of the U.K. variant detected in Canada, four of which are in B.C.

The Elk Valley Hospital is adapting to meet the needs of patients in the Elk Valley.
1-in-5 COVID tests coming back positive in and around Fernie, sparking concern

Dr Ron Clark of Elk Valley Hospital said one in five tests was returning positive for COVID-19

Throughout December, RCMP conducted CounterAttack road checks as police worked to keep roads free of impaired drivers. (BLACK PRESS file photo)
‘You can’t make this stuff up’: Stories from the B.C. CounterAttack campaign

Amusing, yes, but a reminder impaired driving affects ability to drive and to make good decisions

(Thesendboys/Instagram)
Video of man doing backflip off Vancouver bridge draws police condemnation

Group says in Instagram story that they ‘don’t do it for the clout’

Inspection of bridge crossing on a B.C. forest service road. (B.C. Forest Practices Board)
B.C. falling behind in maintenance of forest service roads

Auditor finds nearly half of bridges overdue for repair

Most Read