The president of an association representing horse owners in New Brunswick says her members’ concerns over the future provision of veterinary services have been alleviated after a meeting with the Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries.
Deanna Phelan, president of the New Brunswick Equine Association, says the department has asked horse owners for their help.
“That was refreshing and another thing that quickly came out was some switch wasn’t going to be flicked July 1 saying, ‘We’re ending your service.'”
Horse owners were preparing for the worst after hearing rumours the province wanted out of providing veterinary services.
Phelan had expressed her concerns before the meeting.
“As an owner, as a rider, as the president of an organization that has over 2,000 members, I am concerned,” she said. “If they are going to pull the equine care, basic emergency care for the 15,000 horses in New Brunswick, we’ve got a real problem.”
Phelan competes with her horse, Dupline but she also coaches, teaches, and houses 20 horses. It’s a business that has been in her family since the 1970s.
Provincial veterinarians have been providing 24/7 emergency service to sick and injured horses and Phelan said officials who attended the meeting made it clear they were overworked.
“The industry that does fuel the agriculture sector, the food for service area — livestock — that’s where they want to spend more of their vet time…and they have all these horse calls.”
Phelan said the department is seeking input on how to make the service better, bridge the budget gap, how to get more veterinarians and whether horse owners could pay more for the service.
A horse owner now pays a call fee, then approximately $200 an hour for the service. But for more serious issues, there was a vet with an equine specialty. He had retired and was not replaced.
Under pressure from horse owners, the province agreed to subsidize…