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Much has been written lately about after-hours veterinary care in this valley.

Starting last October, a group of veterinarians have been sharing after-hours calls to ensure coverage 24 hours a day and seven days a week. For the most part, this has been successful.

Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, there will always be gaps in the service; an injury too severe to be dealt with effectively at home, too many emergencies occurring at the same time, the difficulty of being in cell phone range while on an emergency call, and of course when we all go to continuing education seminars.

When an animal is injured unexpectedly, the emotional trauma to their caretakers is significant.

It is up to the veterinarian involved to make the best medical decisions for the proper, professional care of that animal. Sometimes that means sending it to a facility that is better equipped to take care of that particular injury.

Valley View Hospital does the same thing.

We would all love it if we could be all things to all people; we are not, and it would be absolutely irresponsible to pretend otherwise.

Cell phone coverage in this area is quite spotty. There have been many times that I get back in range (drive around the corner) and my phone says I have missed a call, but there is no message. Please, please leave a message with your name and phone number.

I cannot begin to tell you how frustrating it is to know that help is needed, but not to have any idea who to call.

If I am actively working on an emergency, I cannot take your call. (Would you want me to stop treating your animal to answer the phone?) But I can get the animal stabilized and return your call as quickly as possible.

My last request of you is simple. Before you have an emergency, interview your veterinarian or prospective veterinarian to see what arrangements they have made for after-hours calls and their vacation time. This will give you time to find and develop a working relationship with a veterinarian that will provide the service you require.

I can assure you that there are many veterinarians in this valley who freely give of their time because they care very deeply about your animals and the quality of their veterinary care.

Dr. Elizabeth Chandler operates Emergency Veterinary Care of New Castle.

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