Puppies that will become RCMP police dogs play outside B.C. RCMP Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Puppies that will become RCMP police dogs play outside B.C. RCMP Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Thursday, March 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

Animals at risk as B.C. falls behind in educating veterinarians: society

Letter says shortage means animal food security is at risk, rescue groups are limited in saving animals

A society representing veterinarians in British Columbia says a provincial personnel shortage is responsible for animals suffering and dying, and the COVID-19 pandemic has only compounded the problem.

Dr. Al Longair, President of the Society of BC Veterinarians, is among eight who signed an open letter to members of the legislative assembly saying the minister of advanced education won’t meet with them about increasing seats at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.

Longair says people are waiting weeks for a vet appointment, and in some instances animals have died.

He says the situation has only gotten worse as more people get puppies and kittens during the pandemic.

He says funding the extra 20 seats at the veterinary college in Saskatoon would cost about $8 million a year, but that still wouldn’t cover an estimated shortage of 100 vets per year by 2024 — the worst situation in Canada.

The letter says the shortage means animal food security is at risk, rescue groups are limited to which animals they can save, owners have had to euthanize their horses for preventable illnesses and those with companion animals face long waits for care.

No one from the Ministry of Advanced Education was immediately available for comment on the letter.

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