15 March 2024

Vet on a mission to make pet care available to all animals in need

| Sally Hopman
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Woman standing in front of blue van saying ACT Pet Crisis Support

Dr Eloise Bright is keen to increase the size of her Tiny Vet Clinic so she can help more pet owners in need. Photo: Supplied.

If Eloise Bright had her way, she’d be working out of a huge Winnebago, travelling wherever she’s needed and treating pets for people who may otherwise forfeit their food in favour of their dogs and cats.

Since 2019 she has run ACT Pet Crisis Support, a not-for-profit service. Through it, she operates the Tiny Vet Clinic – out of a converted caravan – where people who could not normally afford to take their animal to the vet can – if they present a health-care card. It is believed to be the only service of its type in the country.

“Currently, the Tiny Vet Clinic helps with free consultations, health checks, ear diseases, eye infections, lump checks, vaccinations, microchips and help for ageing pets who need arthritis management,” she said.

“We run by donation-only, for pet owners who would otherwise be unable to afford veterinary care.

“We help pensioners, those on a low or fixed income, the homeless and those experiencing financial difficulties. Many of our clients have their own chronic health problems, are elderly or have lost their employment.”

For many of these clients, she said, their only family was their pet, so keeping them healthy was vital for the wellbeing of both.

But she’s running out of space in the caravan and needs help to buy and fit out a larger vehicle – and hopefully, hire another vet and nurse. Dr Bright currently does all the work herself, with a small band of volunteers to help with the administrative side.

READ ALSO RSPCA ACT’s Pets of the week – Belle & 17 damn noisy roosters

“We would love to upgrade our premises and equipment so we can make more of a difference in the community,” she said.

When Region spoke to Eloise this week, she had just finished a shift at the Tiny Clinic, from 11 am to 1 pm – although she didn’t finish with her last patient until 2 pm. During that time, she saw 16 animals, three of which needed surgery.

“Sometimes it’s simple,” she said. “We had this man who had cancer, and his wife was his carer. They had a lovely little dog who was 13 but they couldn’t afford to take him to the vet. Turned out he only had an ear infection, so I could do it for them.

“Sometimes it costs you $400 just to go into a vet and I know people who will go without food so their animals are cared for. That’s where we step in.”

Dr Bright, who was originally from Canberra, moved to Sydney in 2006 to study for her degree. She moved back to Canberra after graduating because she felt there was a greater need for vets in the capital.

Female vet sitting on floor with dog

Dr Eloise Bright with one of her patients. The Canberra vet is on a mission to provide care to pet owners in need. Photo: Supplied.

“The first time I worked here the owners surrendered this cat because it had a broken leg. I ended up keeping it. Then there was a dog – I ended up keeping that too. I think the maximum capacity we came up with was three dogs and two cats,” she joked.

Today, Dr Bright works at the RSPCA one day a week and runs her other business Canberra Behaviour Vet which helps pay the bills so she can treat animals in need through the Tiny Clinic.

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But she finds time to lobby for support to expand the Tiny Clinic into a larger service for pet owners on low incomes.

“Our aim is to open a mobile veterinary clinic that can also perform surgeries. Currently we are operating out of a converted caravan and we are limited by the size of our space. We would love to upgrade our premises and equipment so we can make more of a difference in the community.

“Every donation will help us to realise our dream of ensuring that all pets owned by disadvantaged pet owners have access to veterinary care,” she said.

To help, go to the website.

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