Making calls (dog) around the house – Winnipeg Free Press

Many people who choose to live with animals know the stress of taking a sick animal to a veterinary clinic. Animal lovers will go out of their way to ensure their furry friends are well cared for. This is where having a vet doing house calls can really be a game-changer.

Dr. Lisa Sawka started Animal Ark Veterinary Services in 2006.

“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do. It always came back to that, ever since I was young. I found my happiness there,” said Sawka, whose interest in veterinary medicine began in elementary school.


Dr. Lisa Sawka with two of her cats; the traveling veterinarian operates Animal Ark Veterinary Services.

For 16 years, the home veterinarian has been receiving patients at their homes. What started as a part-time practice quickly grew into a full-time practice, caring for animals where they live.

“People really like the practice of home visits,” Sawka said. “All the customers are great; they appreciate that we come to them. We have two full-time veterinary assistants; they are super helpful.

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Sawka is a graduate of the Western College of Veterinary Medicine. She has over 20 years of experience in clinical and emergency medicine and is a member of the Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association.


Dr. Lisa Sawka says running a mobile veterinary service is as much about helping owners as it is helping pets.

She worked for the Winnipeg Humane Society, traveling to Churchill to do spaying clinics and now travels to the northern city for annual vaccination clinics with Animal Ark. She also helps the East Beaches Animal Shelter in Victoria Beach and Traverse Bay area.

“When you get into veterinary medicine, you think, ‘I’m going to interact with animals,’ but as you practice, you learn that you also get to know people. Fur babies moms and dads, families, children grow up, and they have themselves and their partners, people and relationships. It’s so nice.”

A day in the life of a mobile veterinarian begins with preparing the necessary daily supplies, packing the vehicle, sometimes delivering medication and setting off to see where the animals live, arriving at the first client’s home at 10 a.m. The team will visit between 8 and 10 homes per day, across the city.

Patients include cats and dogs of all ages, kittens and puppies, the occasional rabbit and sometimes even a bird, but only if owned by a long-time client.

For Nancy Gill, having mobile service makes life so much easier.

“Dr. Sawka and his assistant came to kick my big, high-energy pup,” Gill says of Faro, his two-year-old husky. “They’re so patient with him. Even though he can barely sit still long enough to get weighed and vaccinated, they are professionals and they get the job done. He loves having them come to visit. And I love the fact that I can access veterinary services when I don’t have a car.

“I need heartworm pills for him every year and she sends a reminder when his next shots are due. She updates her little ‘shotbook’ for me which is great because I don’t didn’t remember everything.

Non-emergency veterinary services include complete physical examinations and weight checks, vaccinations, complete blood and heartworm tests, distribution of medication and deworming, nutritional counseling, microchipping, diagnosis and treatment of non-surgical conditions, minor injury care, and even home care. life care/euthanasia.

Ideal for busy pet owners, especially those with multiple pets, in-home veterinary service can reduce stress for pets and their owners. Many animals become anxious when they visit a clinic or become ill on car trips. Being at home brings comfort and calm to everyone involved. Clients can reassure their pets by holding them during the exam and any diagnostic procedures.

Animal Ark’s veterinary professionals are certified fearless, having completed a program that provides training, tools, and knowledge to address varying levels of fear, anxiety, and stress in pets; improves communication with customers; and increases workplace safety.

“We do our best to manage anxious animals in a way that makes visits positive. We retain animals less and incorporate lots of treats. Owners are not hurt. If one animal has a pleasant visit, then the next will be (too),” said Sawka, the busy mother of two and mom to Chewy, an elderly dog ​​rescued from a puppy mill, and cats Demitri, Laser and Timmy.

Over the years, Animal Ark has remained constantly busy. “We have throughout the pandemic. There’s such a demand right now,” Sawka said of the growing interest in home veterinary services. “People really like the idea.”

Although there is currently a waiting list of 50 people, Sawka expects to be able to welcome new patients in the fall. Whether appointments are for routine wellness checkups, reminders, palliative care, or chronic pain management, the bottom line is making sure beloved pets are there. comfortable and happy.

“It’s about helping animals, using common sense to make a diagnosis, and making them better and healthier.”


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Raymond I. Langston