Sault Ste Marie Animal Clinic Recognized as ‘Local Legend’

Staff of Sault Ste Marie Animal Clinic receiving cheque



In December of 2021, the team at Sault Ste. Marie Animal Clinic was both surprised and delighted to find out we had been nominated for and awarded a Local Legend award by Northside Mazda on behalf of Mazda Canada as part of an initiative to recognize local small businesses and the challenges presented by the ongoing pandemic.  We are sincerely honoured and humbled to be recognized in this way and to receive $2500.00.

The pandemic has had a significant impact on our practice.  Since we are classified as an essential service, we never shut down completely, but we have had to alter how we interact with clients and their pets.  For quite a while, we were limited to urgent care only which then created a back log we are still trying to catch up from.  We also limit our exposure to people by either having them wait outside in their car or in the waiting room while a team member holds the pet for it’s exam and treatment.  This has been stressful for both the owners and the pets as people understandably want to be there to hold and reassure their pet.  The good news is our team is excellent with pets – making them feel comfortable even when the owner can’t be right beside them.  However, it also means everything takes longer and a lot of extra time is spent talking to the clients afterwards – either from a distance or on the phone.

The pandemic has highlighted a shortage of veterinarians and support staff everywhere, but Sault Ste. Marie veterinary hospitals have been particularly affected by our location and relatively small community size.  During normal or non-pandemic times, a significant number of people regularly go to Sault Ste. Marie Michigan for their veterinary care.  Since the border has been closed, these people have not been able access their veterinarians.  We have tried to help where and when we can for pets experiencing urgent problems.

There has also seems to have been a ‘puppy boom’ since the start of the pandemic with many homes that traditionally might have had one dog, now choosing to have two or three.  We also seem to be getting more calls from people who have recently moved to the area. We receive multiple phone calls, messages, and emails everyday from people desperate to find a veterinarian.  We would love to help everyone, but we can’t – we are already postponing more routine care for current patients for longer than we would like.  It is very stressful for our staff to be constantly in the position of having to turn people away.  We understand it is also very stressful for the pet owners who can’t access routine veterinary care for their pet.  Unlike bigger centers, Sault Ste Marie does not have a designated Veterinary Emergency Hospital – the local clinics all take turns providing emergency care on evenings and weekends.  We do see pets with an urgent problem that do not have or are unable to access their regular veterinarian on an emergency basis when we are the clinic on-call.  This means our ‘on-call’ nights and weekends end up being significantly busier as well.

More than the money, the recognition of being given this award is an unexpected honour and very much appreciated.  It has been a stressful and exhausting time for all, but we are particularly pleased for our support staff to be recognized – they are the ones on the front lines dealing with people and their pets …. and sometimes in tears in the back after someone has taken their frustrations out on them.  For the most part, people have been very understanding – our clients are wonderful – but it has been challenging for our staff.  For the team to be recognized as a ‘Local Legend’ was a terrific morale booster!

The pandemic has had such a profound impact on so many people, we are truly humbled and grateful to have been singled out in this way. Sault Ste Marie is a wonderful city in so many ways – we feel very fortunate to live here and be a part of the local business community.  We would like to thank Mazda Canada and Northside Mazda for this remarkable honour and generous monetary award – which we have tried to ‘Pay it Forward’ by giving  to local pet charities who are also dealing with the additional challenges of the pandemic.  We have given $2000.00 to the Sault Ste Marie Humane Society and $500.00 to Northern Critters In Need during the recent #BettyWhiteChallenge

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