Exmouth vets reject 2,000-strong 24-hour pet care petition

Jan Thornton, Gill Smith and Mandy Goibson are pictured at the Exmouth Indoor Market pet stall with

Jan Thornton, Gill Smith and Mandy Goibson are pictured at the Exmouth Indoor Market pet stall with a list of more than 1,200 signatures calling for an out of hours vetinary service for the town. Ref exe 8804-50-15SH. Picture: Simon Horn - Credit: Archant

Animal lover Mandy Gibson is ‘disappointed’ her 2,000-strong petition to bring back 24-hour vet care to Exmouth has failed.

Mrs Gibson, of Moorfield Close, Withycombe Raleigh, lobbied the town’s vet practices for the return of the service – currently owners have to drive their animals to Exeter if they fall sick or are injured out-of-hours.

Some 2,000 people supported her campaign, but the town’s vets are standing fast by a joint decision made two years ago to transfer the town’s out-of-hour emergency vet care to Exeter, where Exonia Veterinary Emergency Service (EVES), at St David’s Station, begins its working day when other practices close, providing emergency and critical care to pets through ‘continuous nursing’.

Previous out-of-hour care was provided in Exmouth when the town’s vets collaborated on the scheme. The service was withdrawn, and out-sourced to Exeter, when the deal ended.

Mrs Gibson was prompted to set up the petition for round-the-clock vet care in Exmouth after her cat, Purdey, was hit by a car. She had to transport her pet in a taxi to Exeter for vital care.

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“I am disappointed. I had hoped with the number of signatures on the petition, they would have seen the strength of feeling,” Mrs Gibson said.

“I would like to thank everybody that signed it. I did try hard for everybody.”

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After receiving the 2,000 signatures, Raddenstiles Veterinary Surgeons, at Liverton Business Park, arranged a meeting with White Lodge Veterinary Surgery and Corner House Veterinary Surgery, Withycombe Village Road, to discuss the petition.

In a letter to Mrs Gibson, White Lodge vets, at Exeter Road, Exmouth, said it was a small independently-run business, not licensed by the council for staff to stay overnight on the premises, or to keep any animal overnight.

Vet Linda Salmon said feedback from clients using Exonia Veterinary Emergency Service had been ‘excellent’.

In a letter to Mrs Gibson, she said: “We are a small business and only employ a small team of veterinary surgeons and registered veterinary nurses.

“Due to the Government working time regulations, we would be unable to stretch our few staff into working such excessive hours to provide 24-hour, 365 days a year.

“In addition, we would require extra staff to answer telephones and provide holiday and sickness cover for the night staff. This leads to prohibitive costs, which would have to be funded by much-increased charges at a local level.”

Joanne Mason, managing director at Corner House Vet Surgery, who also wrote to Mrs Gibson, said feedback from clients who have used the Exonia was ‘positive’.

She said: “We will be continuing with our arrangement for out-of-hours veterinary provision in Exmouth as we all feel this provides the best out-of-hours care for our patients, being treated by a dedicated team of emergency vets and nurses who are on call all night, over the weekends and during bank holidays.”

All three Exmouth vets had lists of pet taxis and animal ambulances, plus Corner House has a van for clients with pets needing moving to the out-of-hour vet, Mrs Mason added.

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