Two Calgary women are facing charges after an alarming assault was caught on camera. The incident involved a veterinarian who works at the Calgary North Animal Hospital who was allegedly attacked over a sick guinea pig.
Dr. Michelle Dmytriw said she’s frustrated over escalating abuse by some clients.
“I’m astounded by it. I’ve never had that happen to me before,” Dmytriw said. “I’ve been hollered at and cussed at but never been assaulted.”
She said her profession is in a fragile place, and many colleagues are in crisis after being exposed to a mounting level of abuse. She said an altercation that turned physical on June 14 was the breaking point.
A mother and daughter arrived on the Sunday looking for emergency care for their pet guinea pig.
“These two people were belligerent, they sat in front of the door and were very demanding about coming in and getting their pet seen,” Dmytriw said.
She said the exotic pet specialist had already gone home for the day and there was little she could do. She assessed the animal and offered support, free of charge, but their emotions escalated.
“The mother called me an idiot and told me I was stupid and not compassionate and I didn’t know how to run a business and I said, ‘Go, that’s enough, there will be no charge. Leave the property and go.’
“They were swearing at us and calling us f-ing idiots and I had enough at this point and told her, ‘Screw off.’ Dr. Dmytriw said.
“The mother came right up to me and punched me in the stomach.”
The altercation didn’t end there.
“The daughter was going off about how her guinea pig was so sick and it was going to die because I was at fault and I said, ‘I offered you supportive care and you declined everything. This is your pet.’ She closed her fist and hit me on the left side if the cheek.”
Vets around the world are seeking mental health support after a growing number of them admit they’re on the verge of taking their own lives because of abuse. An online peer support group, Not One More Vet, offers help for vets around the world.
“Our industry has grown in North American as the number one profession for suicide because of this,” Dmytriw said.
“How many of us have to lose our lives, how many have to be on medication to survive day to day and cope with what we need.”
The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) gave Global News a statement that said they’re troubled to hear about this incident and physical and emotional attacks are disturbing, unacceptable and cannot be tolerated.
The industry regulator said they offer ongoing wellness support to its members.
Calgary police have laid assault charges against the mother and daughter, Theresa and Blair Hyshka. Global News reached out to them for comment, but did not receive a reply before publication.