A new after-hours veterinary emergency service at Creekside has already proven itself when it comes to one local dog owner.
Karen Garrett said thanks to the care from Dr. Melinda Lopez at Twin Trees Veterinary Clinic, Garrett's eight-year-old bulldog-pug recovered fully after some frightening moments following a recent surgery.
Garrett's dog, Bella, had undergone ACL surgery and was recovering well, but developed breathing issues, which these types of dogs are prone to.
"Bella was looking grey — even her tongue wasn't looking pink," said Garrett.
Dr. Christine Kirby, of Coast Mountain Veterinary Services, said: "We're actually quite lucky to have Dr. Lopez working out of Whistler. We kind of worked together to make sure Bella was getting more oxygen, and breathing better and she was able to take over for the next six hours until Bella could breathe on her own again."
"It was incredible service," said Garrett. "The only other option would have been to drive to Vancouver to a 24-hour emergency clinic."
For Kirby, an emergency veterinarian is a terrific help.
"Just for Dr. Lopez to step in and do that, it's something that's really good to have because a lot of times it's hard for us to be able to provide that kind of service and still be able to be at 100 per cent for the patients the next day," Kirby said. The Twin Trees clinic currently is open Wednesdays through Saturdays, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.
For Lopez, it's a chance to live in a ski town and administer what is really needed.
"Most people think emergency and think trauma," Lopez said. "We do see trauma but it's not the most common."
Lopez said that last year's veterinary database shows toxicology is the most common reason for vet visits, with many human-prescription drug overdoses.
"Even just one tablet for a small animal can be fatal," Lopez said.
Mallory Jensen, patient and client-care advocate at Twin Trees clinic, said the clinic is seeing a disturbing number of dogs that have ingested drugs, including cocaine.
Jensen said that dogs seem to sniff out and ingest the small amounts either discarded or lost on local trails. As well, it's common for dogs to get into human-prescription drugs, often with dire results.
"They get into it and get all loopy," Jensen said. The diagnosis is made by urine testing and the solution is to administer lots of fluids. "It's pretty crazy how many times it's happened," said Jensen.