16 December 2022

New Canberra walk-in clinic opens for after-hours animal care

| Evelyn Karatzas
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Two woman and a cat

The owners of the new walk-in veterinary clinic, Dr Ashlee Flesser and Dr Bronwyn Orr. Photo: Bronwyn Orr.

A new walk-in facility has opened to give pet owners access to after-hours ‘low urgency care’.

Dr Bronwyn Orr said the idea for the Walk-In Clinic for Animals in Belconnen came about when she and Dr Ashlee Flesser worked at the Canberra Veterinary Emergency Service in Gungahlin. As emergency vets, they saw high demand for animal care and very long wait times, putting constant pressure on vets.

“It was a concept born out of a shared experience with another vet, my business partner, Dr Ashlee Flesser,” Bronwyn said.

“We’d see these people coming in who were looking for treatment for their pets, whether it was for an ear infection, gastro or a UTI or something like that, and as emergency centres have to work off a triage system, only the most urgent cases are often seen, especially on a really busy night.

“While we would try to see everyone, sometimes people would have to wait several hours, or we just wouldn’t have the capacity to see them at all and we’d have to, unfortunately, send them away. ”

Bronwyn and Ashlee identified a gap for non-life-threatening or non-urgent centres in Canberra. They decided to open the Walk-in Clinic for Animals to relieve some of the pressure on the emergency centres in Canberra.

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Bronwyn said they wanted to find a way to help people who couldn’t get into their regular vet.

“We certainly don’t see ourselves as a replacement for people’s general practice or daytime vet, but we see ourselves as complementary,” she said.

“If your regular vet is fully booked out for a few days and you can’t get in, or your dog has a UTI or gets gastro or something like that and needs treatment, you can come to us and we will help you out. We see ourselves in between emergency and GP practice.

“We can also do services like euthanasia if the time has come for an elderly pet, or forgotten vaccine boosters, especially leading up to the school holiday period where everyone will be going away.”

Ticks are a particular concern for Christmas travellers about to hit the coast.

Two women with a dog

Dr Ashlee Flesser and Dr Bronwyn Orr opened their business to help the Canberra pet-owning community and relieve pressures from emergency veterinary services. Photo: Bronwyn Orr.

Although the Walk-In Clinic for Animals hasn’t seen any cases of pets with tick paralysis, they stock a range of tick preventatives for both dogs and cats.

“If people are going to the coast and have forgotten to get their pet’s tick preventatives or they just hadn’t thought about it, we can supply that,” Bronwyn said.

“We’re really just designed to try to help people who are worried about their pets through the night, and anything that is a true emergency will be redirected to the emergency hospitals.

“In the emergency centres, we’re starting to see cases of tick paralysis in pets who haven’t even travelled away from Canberra, so I encourage anyone whose pets are going to the coast to administer preventatives as it’s going to be a really bad tick season.”

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The Walk-In Clinic has already received so much support from the community.

“People are quite appreciative that after work hours, there’s somewhere they can go,” Bronwyn said.

“We’re really enjoying being able to help people in this way. We consciously chose to open it before the Christmas holidays because we know, having worked in emergency for a few years, this is like peak time, and it gets really busy.

“People can turn up to our clinic and their pets can get the care they need. We just want to help people and their pets.

“It’s a new adventure for us, but we’re really enjoying it and we’re looking forward to seeing the clinic grow and being able to continue offering these services into the future.”

The Walk-in Clinic for Animals is open Wednesday to Sunday, 7 pm to 11 pm. It is located at 30 Totterdell Street in Belconnen.

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Let’s hope it is better than the human walk in clinics. I went to the Gungahlin clinic with an ankle sprain and was told to see my GP. They didn’t even look at it let alone wrap a compression bandage around it. Funny thing is I had to wait over a week to see my GP.

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