AVC heads north to run free clinics

By AJ MacLeod

Oct. 12, 16

Grant Kenny is a long-time dog owner from Natuashish, Labrador who hasn’t been able to afford fees at veterinarian clinics since he first got his dog in 2008.

After having to borrow money from his parents to pay for clinic fees for his dog for two years his community was selected to be a setup location for the Atlantic Veterinary College’s Chinook Project. The project put on by the college was a free veterinary clinic for the people of Natuashish.

The project began in 2005 and has been going on every year since. Jane Magrath and Dr. Lisa Miller began the project and approached Dr. Marti Hopson to plan and execute the first trip.

“I have coordinated every trip since, for the last 11 years.

It is a round year job for me, and it is 100% volunteer, I am not employed to do it,” said Hopson.

The main focus of the clinics is to spay/neuter dogs and cats in order to control population. Almost equal to that is vaccination against rabies, distemper and parvovirus. All of which are very common in the north where the majority of the animals are not vaccinated.

Each year the project selects students from the college to go and act as the veterinarians at the clinics.

“It’s a very competitive process to be selected to go. Each year we have only 4-8 students, and up to 30 will apply for those spots.

It’s really hard to choose. We look for people with a real team attitude, who can perform under stressful conditions,” said Hopson.

The project also brings in other veterinarians from all over North America. Dr. Nicole Gallant from Kensington, PEI was apart of the project in 2010 and 2012.

“The Chinook Project was an eye-opening experience for me, that’s for sure.

I got to work with so many great people and giving back to the people of Natuashish and Hopedale was such a rewarding experience,” said Gallant.

Gallant first heard of the project from a friend living in Yellowknife who read about it online.

“My friend Stephanie called me one day and asked me if I had heard of this project the Atlantic Veterinary College was putting on.

As soon as she explained the project to me I knew it was something I wanted to be apart of,” said Gallant.

The Chinook Project has helped people like Kenny and hundreds of others across Canada.

“Without the generous help from the Atlantic Veterinary College and everyone else involved I don’t think I’d be able to afford to take my dog to the vet.

This was a really nice thing for them to do and I’m glad this project goes on every year,” said Kenny.