The district of Ucluelet has come out swinging in its fight to support the West Coast’s only local animal doctor.
Mayor Bill Irving didn’t pull any punches in a strongly worded letter to the College of Veterinarians of BC (CVBC) outlining the district’s concerns over the CVBC’s recent treatment of Jane Hunt.
Hunt served as Ucluelet’s only licensed veterinarian from 1988 to 2004 but resigned after she was unable to purchase mandated medical equipment.
She continued to provide care to local animals until she received a letter from a Vancouver based law firm on behalf of the CVBC on Oct. 25, 2013, that promised legal action would be pursued if she did not immediately stop treating pets.
When news of the legal threat broke, the community’s outcry was loud and during a Dec. 10 regular meeting Ucluelet’s council agreed to send a letter to the CVBC. This letter was written by Irving and reviewed by council during Feb. 11’s regular meeting.
“The West Coast has gone from the services of an on-site veterinarian available 7 days-a-week 24 hours-a-day, with overnight pet accommodation to a veterinarian visiting our community once-a-month with no clinical facility,” the letter reads.
“Additionally our Council has been informed that although Port Alberni, which is a minimum one hour and thirty minute drive over a difficult road, has two veterinary clinics that there is a limited after-hours service and that several pet owners have had to drive an additional one hour to Nanaimo for weekend emergency service.”
Irving’s letter notes district officials were made aware of the legal threat against Hunt
by media reports and local citizens, not by the CVBC.
“The district is surprised that this significant loss of veterinary service to this region was considered without any discussion with local governments or residents,” the letter states.
Irving said the district appreciates the CVBC’s efforts to maintain standards but exceptions must be made in regards to isolation, quality of service, and impact on clients.
“Dr. Hunt has provided remarkable service to people in this region. Our community is very concerned that rather than the Veterinary Association celebrating the service of this individual her transition to retirement was made both frustrating and disappointing,” the letter states. “The people in this region hold her in the highest regard both in her care of their pets and consideration she gives to families during often difficult times. We are embarrassed that she and her husband were treated in this fashion.”
The letter asks the CVBC to reconsider its stance against Hunt and suggests striking an accord that would allow veterinarians in isolated communities to provide an appropriate level of care to meet the needs of their region.
The letter also calls for Hunt to be considered a first response referral agent for veterinary service providers in Port Alberni and Nanaimo.
“Dr. Hunt has provided residents of this region with a representation of dedication and service in the field of veterinarian service that is second to none,” the letter states.
“Quite frankly, she should be honoured by your association and not treated with what appears to be such a disrespectful fashion.”