Montreal·Video

South Shore vet ditches the clinic for house calls and a bicycle

When Claude Lefrançois worked in a veterinary clinic, she noticed pets detested being at the vet. So she decided to go to them — on her bicycle.

For the last 9 years, veterinarian Claude Lefrançois has been treating pets in their own homes

Claude Lefrançois is a vet and an avid cyclist who has biked across Canada. She cycles to her clients' homes. (CBC)

When Claude Lefrançois worked in a veterinary clinic, she noticed pets detested the trip to the vet.  

"Especially cats. [They] are crying in the car — because most cats aren't travelling regularly," says Lefrançois. 

Once the animals got to the clinic, the examination room stressed them out. 

"It's smelling like medication and the cats and dogs smell a lot more than us," she says.  

Making a trek to the clinic also wasn't ideal for seniors who she had to struggle to bring in their pet. 

"For them it would be difficult to walk with a cat cage." 

So after spending 30 years working in a clinic, Lefrançois decided to start her own practice: Vėtérinaire à Vélo — a cycling vet service.

Claude Lefrançois dresses to keep warm in freezing temperatures, and packs her equipment carefully to make sure medications and vaccines don't freeze. (CBC)

For nine years, she's been biking to pet owners' homes on Montreal's South Shore. 

Seeing animals in their homes and not in a clinic has changed how she works as a vet.  

"When I ask what kind of food the animal is eating, I can see it," she says. 

She's also called upon, sometimes as often as twice a week, to go to a person's home to put down their pet. 

"It's very peaceful. They can cry as much as they want."


Watch Claude Lefrançois make a house call.

The South Shore's Vėtérinaire à Vélo 1:40

4-season service

Whether it's sunny, snowing or freezing cold, Lefrançois makes house calls.

She says that while wintry weather rarely prevents her from cycling, "it's an element to freeze the medication."

So she packs her equipment into a tool box, which is then packed into a bike trailer.

She also brings along "treats to keep the cats quiet," and "gloves for the reluctant ones."

Claude Lefrançois packs her veterinary equipment in a tool chest. (CBC)

Frances Hudon, owner of Loki the German Shepherd, appreciates the care her dog gets with a house call.

"You don't have to go out with your dog and wait at the clinic," says Hudon. "And there's a relationship that develops that you won't get at the clinic."​

Frances Hudon and her pet dog Loki have been getting house calls from Claude Lefrançois for 6 months. (CBC)

Meanwhile for Lefrançois, it's a chance to make sure an animal's stress level is reduced.

"It's a lot quieter, usually, at home. I cannot pretend that all the animals will be co-operative, but most of them are," Lefrançois says.

It also means being out on her bike all year round. 

"It's healthier. It's fun."

About the Author

Craig Desson

Journalist

Craig Desson is a journalist at CBC Montreal. He was born in Montreal and has lived in Ottawa, Toronto, Germany and Sierra Leone. Craig has also worked for CBC Radio.

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