Liz Morrison, left, and Candus Graffunder has started the Wells Gray Country Vet Recruitment Coalition to bring in a much-needed veterinarian into the area. (Stephanie Hagenaars photo)

Liz Morrison, left, and Candus Graffunder has started the Wells Gray Country Vet Recruitment Coalition to bring in a much-needed veterinarian into the area. (Stephanie Hagenaars photo)

Locals band together to recruit veterinarian to community

A recruitment campaign is in the works as current vet to retire in June

A few Clearwater locals have created a coalition to attract a veterinarian to the area, something that has been increasing in demand for some time.

Candus Graffunder and Liz Morrison put together the Wells Gray Country Vet Recruitment Coalition to lobby government and various groups to help recruit a new veterinarian to the district, as the current one will soon be retiring.

And although Barriere will soon be getting a veterinarian for their region, Clearwater and surrounding area would still need their own as the demand for the Barriere vet will be high enough already.

In an effort to gather support for the endeavor, the coalition has reached out to numerous groups in the area with a vested interest in animals, including the Wells Gray Riders Association, Back Country Horsemen of BC (North Thompson branch), the local 4-H and local rescues.

The two said the response so far has been very positive and supportive.

The need for a veterinarian in the area has only increased over the years as the population has grown, along with the number of ranches, farms and hobby farms in the area. With so many large animals, it is tough to travel to Kamloops for any kind of veterinary assistance, especially in an emergency or in the winter months with bad roads, said Morrison.

Those with large animals, such as horses and cattle, aren’t the only ones in need. People who own dogs and cats also require veterinary assistance in town, as sometimes an hour and a half drive to the closest clinic could mean the live or death of a beloved pet.

“We’ve recognized there’s an opportunity here in our community at a time when there’s not a lot of jobs available,” said Graffunder. “We’re passionate about our area.”

She added that as part of the recruitment process, they have reached out to a local videographer to showcase the area and promote Clearwater as a great place to live and “do what they love.”

So far, the group has applied for grant funding from the District of Clearwater, who they say has indicated will do what they can through their business development to promote the search, and the Thompson-Nicola Regional District. They will also be reaching out to other local communities such as the Wells Gray Community Forest Corporation and the North Thompsom Communities Foundation.

A fundraising campaign has been established and, in addition to the video, they will be seeking letters of support from the various organizations that will eventually be uploaded to a website, said Morrison. Support from individuals will be accepted as well, but at a later time.

Graffunder was involved in the recruitment of a doctor for the area some time ago, and said she felt that was very important, but finding a veterinarian for the area is just as important.

“I feel there’s more animals in this community than there are people,” she said. “More possible patients out there for a veterinarian, so it would be nice (to have one).”

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