Coronavirus: What Calgary veterinarians are doing to help pets

Dr. Lorenza Malaguti the medical director at the McKnight 24 Hour Veterinary Hospital is reassuring Calgarians that essential services for pets will continue during the COVID-19 pandemic. Provided to Global News

A Calgary veterinarian is reassuring pet owners that essential services for their pets will continue despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We will remain open to offer emergent care or anything that can cause pain, distress or a detriment of health to an animal,” said Dr. Lorenza Malaguti, the medical director of the McKnight Veterinary Hospital.

Malaguti said that changes have been made at the hospital in order to protect the animals, staff and owners from contracting COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus.

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The McKnight Veterinary Hospital treats small and exotic animals which includes cats, dogs, birds and bunnies.

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“We are using a strict closed-door policy,” she said. “Owners are not allowed in the building and we are taking animals from their owners at the door, having them assessed and following up via phone conversation.”

“We are still providing essential care, just limiting elective procedures that can be postponed.”

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Similar to some grocery stores, Malaguti said the hospital has also seen people stock piling pet food.

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“Initially, there was quite a bit of panic buying of food, which has improved in the past few days,” she said. “The distributors simply had to catch up with demand, which has also been improving this week.”

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Other veterinary clinics are also changing polices in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

In a March 19 email sent to pet owners, VCA Canada Hospitals — which operates Shawnessy South Animal Hospital — told its clients that it’s implementing and adapting plans and protocols based on the best direction from public health and veterinary authorities.

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“Veterinary care is an essential part of our community and we want to assure you that our hospital is open and will continue to provide services at this time,” said Daryl Verbeek, president of VCA Canada Animal Hospitals.

Click to play video: 'Lethbridge animal rescues encourage interested quarantiners to adopt'
Lethbridge animal rescues encourage interested quarantiners to adopt

Verbeek said admittance and check-out changes also mean pet owners are to stay in their vehicle and call when they arrive outside the hospital.

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“We will do our best to coordinate your visit from outside the hospital, including providing follow-up instructions and taking payments,” he said.

VCA Canada Animal Hospitals also announced it’s discontinued all non-essential medical services.

“This is an unprecedented decision but one that will allow us to continue our purpose of caring for life’s greatest companions while helping to further reduce the potential for transmission of COVID-19,” Verbeek said.

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Pet owners are asked to check their veterinarian’s website before showing up at the hospital.

Malaguti added it’s important for people to call and let them know they’re on their way if there’s an emergency.

“We are working around the clock to make sure we can continue to help owners and their pets when in need.”

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