Dr. David Paton, founder of Paton and Martin, an Aldergrove-based veterinarian clinic that specializes in horse care, is pushing Provincial Health Office to include veterinarians in the group of frontline workers eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine.
“Right from the beginning of COVID, vets were considered an essential service,” Dr. Paton explained. “Now massage therapists, estheticians, they’re are all qualifying for the vaccine. Nail salons are going to be ahead of vets at this rate.”
Paton’s clinic at 25930 40 Ave. is closed to the public, but he fears the slow vaccine roll-out and any mandatory closures creates a risk to pet and farm animal owners.
“What happens to the rural folks who are the middle of calving season and need a C-section done or have an emergency and can’t go to a vet because the vet is closed?” Dr. Paton said.
The veterinarian is taking farm calls and travelling on site to treat animals.
Two surgeons, both who had tested positive for COVID-19, preformed an emergency surgery on a horse in what he described as a life or death situation.
Typically performed with five people, the two surgeons took on the task and left quarantine to perform the surgery while not putting anyone else at risk.
“We saved that horse,” Dr. Paton told The Star. “It would have died.”
He said that is just one example of how his and other veterinarians have struggled during the pandemic.
“If the secretary comes to work with COVID, then of course, everything has to shut down,” he explained. “Some are relating vets to bringing their dog in for their yearly vaccination, but what if that dog is hit by a car and the vet is closed and can’t operate?”
Dr. Paton said he’s written to the Provincial Health Office about how vets should be on the list of frontline workers to get vaccinated.
“Our veterinarian’s association is fighting hard; hopefully we will be added to the list,” he said.
After graduating from the Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatchewan and a brief stint in Ontario, Dr. Paton founded the practice in 1979 as a solo ambulatory large animal veterinary service.
It is currently the only full service specialty horse hospital in B.C.
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