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Veterinarians are ensuring essential services for animals during COVID-19

'We are working with a crew of seven. the goal was to keep all our staff and not have to lay anyone off. We've reduced hours and changed how we do things, but everyone is making their living'
steph marquette
To keep the mood light during the COVID situation, Doctor Steph Marquette (kneeling in red & black plaid) and her team have activities like PJ day at Cassells Street Animal Hospital.

This article is one in a series that feature essential services or workers. This time, we look at a veterinarian service.

Doctor Steph Marquette has owned Cassells Street Animal Hospital in North Bay for over 15 years. The COVID pandemic is possibly the most unique situation they've faced.

"We are working with a crew of seven. The goal was to keep all our staff and not have to lay anyone off. We've reduced hours and changed how we do things, but everyone is making their living," explains Marquette.

She says they practice a lot more telemedicine these days, and they are now allowed to dispense medicine that way with a valid client-patient relationship.

They've gotten innovative in how they can assess an animal, relying on photos or videos from clients when they can. And when needed they arrange for carefully planned visits to the clinic, for the safety of their customers as well as their staff.

"When it's clear an animal will need x-rays or blood work, then we have to use hands-on treatment. We still use social distancing, the clients hand off their pet, and we bring the pet into the clinic. And we're practicing great hygiene with hand-washing and wiping down handles on animal carriers, that sort of thing."

Marquette says they also take into consideration the "at-risk" animal population. For example, puppies need to be vaccinated to protect them from things like the parvovirus. Parvo is a highly contagious virus that causes infectious gastrointestinal illness in puppies and young dogs and can be fatal.

The one thing that will allow an adaption to the new rules is when an animal needs to euthanized.

"It's very hard on pet owners. For many, a pet is truly a member of the family, and they want to be there for them and deserve to be there for them. In that case, we take carefully planned steps with social distancing and masks and allow the pet owners to be with their loved pets. It's already so distressing that we do whatever we can to adapt to show compassion in this new COVID environment," adds the doctor.

Marquette says they've been relieving some of the stress of the pandemic by having fun at work, for example with a pajama-day and doing a song-spoof video. They show their fun on the clinic's Facebook page if you want to check it out.

"We're tight-knit, we like to have fun and we're a true team. We like to keep things positive."