Calgary

Free Calgary vet care program sees big jump in demand

A program that delivers free veterinary care for low-income clients has seen a big jump in demand, the administrator says.

Program for CUPS clients has space for about 50 appointments. This year they were booked in 24 hours

Dr. Serge Chalhoub and his students at the University of Calgary's faculty of veterinary medicine have been offering clinics for the past three years. He says the demand this year has jumped. (Submitted by Serge Chalhoub)

A program that delivers free veterinary care for low-income clients has seen a big jump in demand, the administrator says.

"This time we booked up within almost 24 hours in all of our slots, versus three years ago we were booking week by week," University of Calgary instructor Dr. Serge Chalhoub told The Homestretch on Thursday.

"There certainly has been an increased demand."

Dr. Serge Chalhoub says the students gain from hands-on experience and interacting with clients. (Submitted by Serge Chalhoub)

Chalhoub and his students at the school's faculty of veterinary medicine have been offering clinics for the past three years.

"A pet is a living creature and has medical needs," Chalhoub said.

"Veterinary care, just like human care, does cost some money. For people who can just no longer afford, of course their pets are really important. That's where we have come in. We want to provide them with some very basic preventative health care, vaccinations and education on nutrition."

The program is aimed at clients of the Calgary Urban Project Society (CUPS).

Chalhoub says the province's economic downturn has hit some people really hard.

"We have seen people who have told us incredible stories of how three years ago they were working in oil and gas and now they are completely out of work. They are struggling with mental health or other issues."

The program has run for three years but demand recently has spiked. (Submitted by Serge Chalhoub)

The program is delivered through a series of clinics. Chalhoub said they see about 40 to 50 clients annually.

"It has been an incredible experience for us and our students," he said.

"They are learning on how to communicate with clients."


With files from The Homestretch

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