Family furious after pet care canceled due to late arrival in snow storm

South Porcupine man drove sick dog to vet’s office in Chelmsford for five hours to be turned away

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Leonard Hill drove five hours in a snowstorm from South Porcupine on Wednesday morning, bringing his mother-in-law’s pet dog, Lola, to see a veterinary specialist in Chelmsford – only to be turned away after arriving with 30 to 40 minutes to spare late for the appointment.


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Hill said he tried to explain that he was slowed down by poor road conditions along Highway 144 and delayed by a collision that halted traffic.

But he was told at the Espanola Veterinary Hospital reception that his appointment had been canceled and the vet would not be able to meet him.

“I left South Porcupine at 5 a.m.… arriving at this dog’s appointment at 9:30 a.m. There had been a snowstorm. The freeway on the 144 was brutal. I had to take it easy,” Hill told the Daily Press.

“Just outside Cartier, there was a transport accident and a truck accident. I had to wait a few minutes. I’m about 30 minutes late and when I showed up they said they canceled my appointment because I didn’t call.

“I said, I’m driving in a snowstorm. I can’t call. There was nowhere to stop. Sometimes I was going 40 kilometers an hour and I couldn’t see.

“It didn’t matter. They just canceled my appointment, so I said, ‘I’ll wait in the parking lot, maybe I can talk to the vet later.’

“And they said, ‘No, he won’t see you. I’m sorry, we canceled it. No one phoned.

“What was I supposed to do?” I had just finished driving for five hours. I couldn’t believe it.

Hill said the dog he was taking to the vet belonged to his 67-year-old stepmother, Lorraine Paquette. The seven-year-old border collie mix is ​​not able to stand on its hind legs and was brought in for a pre-op checkup.

Paquette had put down a $250 deposit to book the appointment and that was lost due to the missed appointment.


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Dr. PJ Rocheleau, owner of Espanola Animal Hospital, is one of the few orthopedic veterinarians and spine specialists in Ontario practicing north of Guelph. The hospital accepts referrals from other veterinarians when an animal requires its specialist orthopedic or spinal care.

Paquette had received a recommendation from a Timmins veterinarian who had examined Lola and felt that she needed the specialized care offered by Dr. Rocheleau.

With snow forecast Tuesday evening and Wednesday morning, Hill said he offered to take the day off and drive Lola to hospital in Chelmsford instead of asking her mother-in-law to make the trip.

Asked about the incident involving Hill, Espanola Animal Hospital staff member Rachel Dineen said: ‘We don’t want to turn anyone away, but if we just don’t have time after taking the time ‘ and a customer doesn’t show up, ‘there’s really nothing we can do about it.

“There is only one doctor.”

Dineen said that because of the specialist care they provide, most of the appointments they have involve in-depth exams that require at least two hours. She said if someone shows up 40 minutes late, they can’t just rush them for a quick checkup.

“Because we are a reference hospital, we only do orthopedic and spinal surgeries. So we have to take x-rays under sedation or for surgical cleaning. So it takes a lot of time.

“We schedule our check-ups at 9:30 a.m., 10 a.m. and 10:30 a.m..”

She said that when Hill and Lola “didn’t show up until after 10, unfortunately we had to move on to the next customer.


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“We inform our clients that they must be on time because Dr. Rocheleau has little time and is the only doctor here. With everything going on, there is such a shortage of vets and veterinary staff – we have no extra appointments.

Despite the nature of Northern Ontario winters, Dineen said they have very little flexibility even if customers call ahead and report they are going to be late due to poor road or weather conditions.

“We understand when there are extreme weather conditions and we try to accommodate customers as best we can, if they are able to make it within 15 minutes – but if it passes and they enter the another client’s appointment time, so unfortunately there is nothing we can do. It’s not fair to cancel someone else’s date – especially when we don’t get any notice.

Meanwhile, Hill’s wife Jessica, whose mother owns the dog, said she couldn’t believe no compensation was taken for the poor road conditions and collision near Cartier on the 144.

“I can’t believe they’re not like, ‘Well, that’s understandable. The weather’s not good. There’s been an accident on the freeway. I mean the weather is out of your control. And if you get stopped on the highway because of an accident, what are you going to do?”

As for Lola, Jessica Hill said the dog remains in the same predicament, requiring an examination and likely $5,000 surgery.

“It was just to figure out what kind of surgery she was going to need. They were going to book us a second appointment for the actual surgery date.

“I don’t know what we’re supposed to do now. Do another road trip?

“I would have such a bitter taste to have to go back. Unfortunately, there aren’t many choices here in the North.

She said her mom will call her dog’s vet in Timmins again and get direction on what can be done for Lola.



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