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June 21, 2011

Arbutus West Animal Clinic

Having caring professionals around at the worst possible times is so important in this life. People who will make what you're going through just a little bit easier, removing some of the burdens from your shoulders.

We want that in our own medical care, but we also want that when it comes to our pets.

(This is not a picture from Arbutus West, thanks to Top Colleges Online)

For a while now, whenever our rats have needed surgeries (for lumps, or to have them spayed/neutered), we've been taking them to Arbutus West Animal Clinic, on the corner of 16th and McDonald here in Vancouver. They're one of the few vets in Vancouver that deal regularly with rodents.

Another great one is Westwood Heights Pet Hospital in Coquitlam. We used to take them there, but our living in downtown Vancouver made them really inconvenient, especially when the only day they did rat surgeries was Wednesday. Getting off of work for a day in order to take our rats in became an issue. They're definitely good, and we highly recommend them too, if you're out there. But we just can't use them due to the distance and inconvenience.

When all of that became an issue, we researched and found Arbutus West. They also have the added benefit of working with some of the small animal rescue organizations in Vancouver, so we already knew that they were good people. They've performed many rat surgeries for us, and our file there is getting quite thick. They pretty much know us by now.

When a rat needs surgery, I can drop him/her off on my way into work and pick him/her up on my way home. It's very easy.

As regular readers know, we had to put our cat down last week. We've been thinking about it for a long while even before this, due to the issues described in that post (I'll let you read it there if you're interested).

While we had been taking our rats to Arbutus for years, we actually had another vet who had been looking after our cat. They didn't do rodents, which is why we found Arbutus, but we didn't want to change our cat's vet.

However, after the 2-3 years of issues discussed in the post mentioned above, we decided it was time to look into what we would need to do to finally put her down when the time came. If the cat worked around our final accommodation and peed on something, making it impossible to live with it anymore, would we be able to take her in and have her put down?

The wife called the vet, explaining the situation and just asking questions.

And she was made to feel like she was evil for even asking about it.

"We won't euthanize pets for the purposes of convenience" the woman bluntly stated (not a direct quote, but basically that). After trying to explain the situation further, the woman grudgingly relented ("I guess you've thought about this") and said she would make a note on the file.

What would happen if we finally made the decision that it was time? Would we have to go in there and be put on the defensive by the vet him/herself, trying to justify our decision? Would we be made to feel like we were this small because we had come to the end of our rope after three years of accommodation? When everything we had tried had stopped working?

We knew we couldn't do that.

So we called Arbutus because they had been so good to our rats. I called and set up an appointment, explaining what had been going on, and said that we just wanted to discuss quality of life issues with the vet. We wanted to lay the groundwork so that there would be no issues when the time came.

Instead of attitude, I got nothing but sympathy and understanding. In fact, I don't even think I used the term "quality of life." The receptionist did after I had explained everything and said that we wanted to bring her in to be looked at. She knew immediately what I was talking about.

They booked us for at least 45 minutes (it may have been 60), because they knew that this kind of conversation would take time and they didn't want to rush us. We saw Dr. Emilia Gordon, a wonderfully caring woman who was just oozing kindness.

We explained everything, giving her a timeline of what had been happening, and our concerns about our upcoming trip and how the cat would handle us being gone (we had scheduled somebody to come in once a day for 30 minutes to check on her). She listened with (and I know I keep using the word, but it's the one that best fits) understanding. She knew that we had done everything we could for her. She didn't condemn us for possibly making this decision out of "convenience." We finally decided that we would board her at Arbutus while we were gone, so that she could be looked after if anything happened, and she would have people around.

That was about three weeks ago. Thursday, I came home and discovered she had fallen ill (details, again, in Saturday's post) and decided that tonight was the night. I called the vet and they immediately said "did you want to bring her in tonight?" even though they would be closing shortly after we got there. She even offered to do the payment over the phone so that we wouldn't have to deal with that when we got there. Since I knew time was of the essence, I didn't want to take the time to do that, but I was very thankful that she even thought of it.

This time, we saw Dr. Burstyn, but he was just as kind as Dr. Gordon had been. They made the process very easy and painless (other than the pain of having to have it done in the first place), giving us all the time we needed to say good-bye.

They are wonderful people. I highly recommend them for any of your pet's medical needs.

(I know this is long, so here's the link again so you don't have to scroll up)


  1. Sounds like those doctors are very nice people.
    I'm glad they treated you so compassionately. It takes a certain kind of person to work with grieving customers. I wondered how you were going to handle coming here. I'm sure this place would have taken great care of her. You're right you can't put a price on compassion. I'm just sorry you had to put kittycat down. Now we won't get cards from her. LOL
    See you in 5 days

  2. Thanks, Mom & Missy. It's getting better as time goes.

  3. With the wonders of the internet and the blogging world I can come read about your vet in Vancouver and you can read about my experiences with a vet in Kasane, Botswana! Cool !

  4. We are always one with your mission to help pets and pet owners have better lives. Goodluck and may we all help more and more people as days pass by:-)


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