We want to thank all of you for your patience and understanding as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis. We are committed to continuing to provide you and your pets with outstanding veterinary care, despite these trying times. The need for social distancing is making us re-evaluate how we deliver veterinary medicine, and obviously some changes are needed. We will continue to refine and modify our protocols as new information is obtained, and we will continue to keep you informed of those changes.
At the beginning of this week, Premier Ford ordered the mandatory closure of all “non-essential services.” Thankfully, veterinary medicine was deemed an essential service, and we are able to continue providing care for our patients at this time. We, along with most veterinarians in Ontario, are aware that this allowance could be rescinded if we are not acting in the best interest of the public.
Perhaps the most exciting change is that on Saturday morning we will be launching our new Telemedicine portal in an effort to maximize our ability to provide veterinary care while also maximizing social distancing. Think of this as your first point of (virtual) contact with our veterinarians. From a link on our homepage, you will be able to schedule an appointment online, upload images and videos and decide how you would like to interact with us (text, voice or video chat). We will discuss your pet’s symptoms, and may ask you to perform some “hands on” evaluation of your pet for us, or may request additional video or pictures. We will then be able to prescribe medication, give you a set of things to watch for, or recommend that your pet come in for a “in person” appointment, depending on our findings. The telemedicine consult will be priced reasonably, and if an in-person consult is recommended, it will be considered a “recheck” of the telemedicine consult and invoiced accordingly.
On Monday of this week, we made the difficult decision to close the clinic to clients. We will still see our patients (dogs and cats), but their humans will be asked to stay outside the clinic. If you arrive by car, simply stay in the car and call us. We will take the history over the phone, and a technician will come to the car and get your pet. If you arrive by foot, please stand away from the door and call us. All pets must be appropriately restrained (on a leash or in a carrier). If we do not feel we can safely get your pet into the clinic, we will be unable to see them. Once in the clinic, your pet will be shown directly into one of the exam rooms, where the veterinarian will perform the physical exam, and then call you on your cell phone to discuss the exam findings, the recommended next steps and give you an estimate of the costs associated with treatment. Once the veterinarian has finished the exam, your pet will be returned to you, along with any medications prescribed. Each exam room, and any equipment used is thoroughly disinfected between uses. We are limiting payment for services to touchless methods – you can either give us a credit card number over the phone, or, if you prefer, pay by e-transfer.
We are also limiting our services at this point to emergencies, health concerns and necessary services:
- We will still be seeing patients for any health concerns, necessary services and emergencies. Please call us, and we will have a technician or veterinarian discuss what is going on with your pet and whether we can resolve the issue via a Telemedicine consult or need to see them in person. If an in-person appointment is required, we will set one up at that time.
- If we need to see your pet, we will continue to ask the following screening questions. If you answer yes to any of the questions, we will request that you have a family member or friend who can answer no to all questions bring your pet in. We can still do the telephone part of the consult with you.
- Have you travelled outside of Canada in the last 14 days?
- Do you have a fever, shortness of breath, dry cough, or other respiratory symptoms?
- Have you tested positive for COVID-19?Do you have a pending COVID-19 test?
- Do you have a pending COVID-19 test?
- We are continuing to sell food, medication and pet supplies. Please call ahead with your order, and we will notify you when it is ready for pickup. When you arrive for pickup, call us and we will bring it directly to your vehicle. PLEASE NOTE: All supply chains are understandably stretched very thin. We ask that you order 3-5 days in advance of needing medications or food, and you limit your supply to not more than 2 months at a time, so there is enough for everyone.
- We are now offering deliveries two days a week (Tuesday and Saturday). Please place orders for delivery by Thursday for Tuesday deliveries and by Monday for Friday deliveries.
- As of now, our boarding, day boarding and grooming facilities are closed.
- In most instances, routine annual wellness appointments and 6-month bordetella boosters
and 6-month senior pet exams can be deferred at this time, provided there are no health concerns. If we are delaying vaccinations, we recommend that your pet be leashed at all times in public and directly supervised when outside. If you have any questions about whether your pet should be vaccinated at this time, please contact us.
- Puppy and Kitten vaccinations should still be given, especially the 12-week booster, as otherwise young animals are immunologically naïve, and highly susceptible to these diseases.
- Labwork to recheck ongoing (known) medical concerns will need to be evaluated on a case- by-case basis. Please give us a call, and you can discuss the necessity of recheck labwork in light of current human health risks.
- Heartworm, tick, flea and parasite medication. At this time, it looks like we may still be dealing with COVID-19 well into “parasite season.” If your dog has been on heartworm and parasite medication in previous years, and was tested for heartworm and tick borne diseases last year, we will be able to prescribe heartworm and tick medication without doing the recommended testing this year. If your dog did not have the test last year, or was not on medication last year, please call and discuss the pros and cons of testing prior to medicating with one of our technicians or veterinarians. In most cases, where risk is low, we will be able to prescribe the medication without a test; however, we may ask you to electronically sign a waiver acknowledging that we have discussed the pros and cons of testing with you.
- Routine surgical procedures, including spays, neuters, and dental cleanings have been suspended for the time being. Please contact our staff about the potential implications of delaying these procedures.
At this point in time, we have not changed our hours of operation, but we have divided out staff into two independent teams. Drs. Richardson and Forgione will be working Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and Drs. Reeve-Newson and Ivanoff will be working Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday. At the end of each day, the entire clinic is thoroughly disinfected, to minimize any potential contact between the two teams. We hope that this move, in addition to the telemedicine portal, allows us to continue to provide for you and your pets, for the duration of this public health crisis.
Stay healthy, stay strong, stay apart!
John Reeve-Newson and the staff of The Animal Clinic