The world of animal welfare has many heroes but one instantly comes to mind for Donna Pyette who runs the Sarnia & District Humane Society.
“Dr. Mel,” says Pyette. “She is a dynamo. We’d be lost without her.”
Dr. Melanie Moore of Bright’s Grove Animal Hospital is the shelter’s paid vet, which means providing services at the humane society twice a week. But she also donates her time for low-cost spaying and neutering and holds wellness clinics that provide animal care for a $25 flat rate.
Community outreach is Dr. Moore’s passion, explained Pyette.
“She does so much and doesn’t get the recognition she deserves.”
It was Dr. Moore that Sarnia Police Services thought of on Dec. 31 when firefighters rescued a year-old German Shepherd mix from the frigid waters of a pond on Blackwell Road.
“My phone rang on New Year’s and it was Sarnia police saying the fire department needed a veterinarian,” Dr. Moore said. “I immediately went to the clinic.”
The German Shepherd, a big boy named Max, had escaped from his home along with a younger pup and the two had somehow fallen through the pond ice.
Firefighters were able to get Max to safety and brought him to the clinic with severe hypothermia. Unfortunately, the smaller dog didn’t survive.
Dr. Moore and her vet technician, Amelia Humphries, were able to give Max intravenous fluids and warm him up. News of the rescue spread quickly across social media and the owners were soon located.
“For Max it was a very good outcome,” Dr. Moore said. “About two hours later, his temperature returned to normal. Unfortunately the little one didn’t make it.”
She said she deeply appreciates any time one of her colleagues, a technician or a vet, steps up in an emergency.
Dr. Moore grew up in the Cayman Islands and decided to become a vet when she was very young.
“For me, growing up on a small island, I saw a lot of strays and I saw the barriers that stop people from accessing veterinary care and keeping their animals healthy,” she said. At age 14, she was working at an animal clinic, and eventually moved to Canada to attend the Ontario Veterinary College in Guelph.
She discovered Sarnia during a clinical rotation at Bright’s Grove Animal Hospital and moved here in 2021 after graduation.
“I vowed to myself and to my clients to provide quality care regardless of their background. No one should be penalized for not being able to afford veterinary care for their animals,” Dr. Moore said.
“Every day, when I get up in the morning, I am determined to provide affordable treatment and promote responsible care.
“That’s what motivates me.”
Working with the local humane society enables her to do community outreach but Dr. Moore also takes on significant international outreach when she goes on vacation.
Last year, she spent two weeks in Poland, in a community about six hours from the border with Ukraine. Twenty-five dogs had been transferred from a region in the Ukraine that had been bombed and Dr. Moore volunteered to help them with their wounds, vaccinations and deworming. It was a real eye opener, she said.
On Feb. 9, she leaves for Samoa, a tiny island country in the South Pacific where there hasn’t been a vet in three years.
“Doing some kind of work to give back is what I like to do best,” she said.
In Samoa she will be working for almost three weeks at a clinic to spay and neuter animals. She also plans to go into the community to educate animal owners about heart worm and the importance of deworming.
“Samoa finds itself in a tough situation and I love to do international veterinary work,” Dr. Moore said. “This is my kind of vacation.”
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