Whistler Animals Galore (WAG), the resort's animal shelter, has a new treatment room which will allow its rescued dogs and cats to be examined onsite, greatly lessening the stress many animals are placed under when a veterinarian inspects them.
Shannon Broderick, the director of shelter operations at WAG, said the conversion of the space began in October and the new treatment room has been taking canine and feline patients since the beginning of December.
"We had this room that was kind of being used as a cattery but wasn't successful as one, so we decided to make it into a treatment room," Broderick said.
She called it their "safe space," and added that few other shelters in British Columbia have such a facility for use.
"I can't tell you how much of a difference it has made for the stress (levels) and welfare of not having to load animals up into crates and drive them to the vets. They're often not used to vehicles, they're not used to us, they may have been strays for a while or maybe their owner dropped them off. Either way, they're already under a certain amount of stress, so to be able to take them into a quiet space onsite, we're more than grateful," Broderick said.
The room was converted with help from the Resort Municipality of Whistler, she added.
In another recent change, Dr. Loridawn Gordon with Animal Health Clinic started offering her services to the shelter once a week from October.
"She goes through and sees any and all the animals that are here at the shelter and need vet attention," Broderick said.
She said WAG spoke of its plan to convert the space with the municipality, which helped install counters and cabinets in the room.
"They essentially put the room together and we designed it. We put our heads together with Dr. Gordon to decide how big of a counter we needed, what were all the specs, and we've been doing all our exams in there," she said.
The room is not set up for surgeries or neutering and spaying, but it works for every other kind of medical need, she added.
Moving forward, WAG wants to add other useful medical equipment to the room, like a microscope and a walk-on scale for the larger dogs. For the latter, they have already applied for funding from the Whistler Blackcomb Foundation.
"We are looking at providing really high-end care to the animals, all in-house," she said.
"Not only are the animals better, I notice a difference in the staff, too. Oh my gosh, anytime the animals are stressed out, I see staff get stressed out and worked up. It's a relief knowing that the vet's coming in to us and the animals just have to go five feet away to be examined, it's quiet and clean and we can do everything they need."