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Open 24 Hours, Year Round

256 Sheppard Ave. West
Toronto, ON M2N 1N3
(416) 222-5409


Kitten’s leg amputated after being thrown out of car


A tiny kitten is slowly recovering after he was allegedly flung out of a car in a busy downtown intersection Wednesday afternoon.

His injuries cost him a rear leg but Dundas is recovering well and up for adoption, say the staff at Downtown Animal Hospital who saved his life.

The 10-week-old kitten received an emergency amputation on his fractured back leg after two people brought him into the Downtown Animal Hospital on Church St. just before 4 p.m.

A female tourist told hospital staff she witnessed the cat being thrown out of a moving vehicle at Dundas St. W. and University Ave., but she wasn’t able to note the make or licence plate of the car. She reached out to a man heading home from work who offered to drive her to the animal hospital, on Church St. near Wellesley St. E.

“It’s so shocking because in the middle of downtown Toronto, in a busy intersection, that this kind of incident can happen without anybody saying anything and noticing is, to me, unfathomable,” Dr. Lu Vihos, who performed the surgery, said in an interview. “Why would you dispose of a life by just rolling down the window and throwing it out?”

She said the little black-and-white kitten, named Dundas by hospital staff, had two fractures in his back leg and was in severe pain.

“I was called in and had to just clear my schedule because this cat needed to go to surgery right away. His leg was dangling,” said Vihos, who is also part-owner of the animal hospital.

But Dundas’ issues didn’t end with just the broken leg.

He was thin, dehydrated and had ear mites. When staff couldn’t get an IV tube into his arm, they had to stick it in his neck. Of the two fractures in his amputated leg, Vihos wasn’t sure if one was the remnant of prior abuse.

“One (fracture) was definitely fresh. The other one was questionable,” she said.

Abuse cases like Dundas’ make up probably less than five per cent of the little critters tended to by the Downtown Animal Hospital, Vihos said.

Nevertheless there are some concerning incidents, including one time that a bag of three kittens was abandoned in a garbage dumpster.

“The public needs to be aware and . . . if they see something wrong happening, they need to step up and help to stop these horrible, horrific acts,” Vihos said.

She said Toronto Police opened a case file to find Dundas’ alleged abuser but, without any identifying information, they haven’t found the perpetrator.

“We’re trying to reach out to the public to see if anybody saw anything on that day,” Vihos said.

Dundas, meanwhile, is still in hospital on pain medication, an IV and antibiotics, but Vihos said he’s doing better and eating well, and he’s up for adoption.

“He was in shock when he came in and right now he’s very happy,” she said. “He’s enjoying us petting him. He’s purring.”

He’s also getting used to life with only three legs.

“He will stand on his back leg and do a couple hops and then sit down,” Vihos said. “He’s a sweet little kitten that has gotten, thankfully, a second lease on life.

“We hope to find him a forever loving home.”

$32,000 bill was a pet insurance lesson

A veterinary clinic offers free pet insurance as an employee benefit and many staff pets are alive because of it.

Toronto ON – In the last year veterinarian bills for our dog and cat have cost thousands of dollars, so the last time I was at the vet with our cat Simba, I asked the receptionist for some pamphlets about Toronto pet insurance.

That’s when I learned that along with the usual employee benefits, the Willowdale Animal Hospital in North Toronto covers top of the line pet care insurance for all 34 employees. And longer tenure employees get free coverage for more than one four-footed friend.

Toronto Veterinarian Jonathan Bloom is one of the owners of the Willowdale Toronto Animal Hospital facility which offers both preventative and emergency care 24/7. He started offering Toronto pet insurance as a staff perk over five years ago. On average, it costs him $1,000 per employee each year.

Toronto Animal Clinic receptionist Claudia Hernandez didn’t think free pet insurance was that big a deal until her Himalayan cat Cookie fell off the seventh floor balcony of her apartment building fracturing her front paws, her jaw and her palate. The Toronto pet insurance company reimbursed her over $15,000 – 80 per cent of the cost of a two month hospital stay plus related services and follow up.

Hernandez says that if she hadn’t had pet insurance she would have found a way to have her cat cared for and pay the bill off over time. However, she has seen many clients of the clinic who could not afford the necessary care in similar circumstances and therefore could not save their pets.

A veterinary clinic offers free pet insurance as an employee benefit and many staff pets are alive because of it.

Bloom is passionate about the value that pet insurance delivers to his team. . He says, “Injured animals often require expensive specialty services like MRIs and CT scans that are available only at a couple of facilities in Ontario”

Toronto Pet Veterinarians, Willowdale Animal Clinic. Toronto Pet Veterinarians, Open Saturdays and Sundays also open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
He also speaks from personal experience. His pug Ripley had respiratory problems and over several years required three surgeries by a veterinary specialist, including a tracheostomy (temporary hole in his throat) so he could breathe.

The pet insurance company reimbursed him for $32,000 of the medical bills he racked up for the dog’s care.

Few Canadian companies offer pet insurance as an employee benefit, and when they do, it is usually a voluntary, employee-paid benefit much like group home or auto insurance. A notable exception is Ceridian Canada Ltd. which subsidizes pet plan insurance for employees that covers up to 80 per cent of veterinary costs.

We probably won’t get pet insurance for Simba and Rudy because their age and pre-existing conditions mean we can’t get full coverage at a reasonable price. However, if we adopt other pets in the next several years we will seriously consider insuring their health because hefty vet bills will be much harder to manage once my husband and I are retired and on a fixed income.

Three of the many companies that offer pet insurance in Canada are PetCareTrupanion  and Petsecure. You can obtain quotes from them by following instructions on their websites.

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Toronto vet offers at-home palliative care for beloved pets

Toronto ON – Veterinarian Dr. Faith Banks offers pets and their owners support and help when they are saying goodbye.

Andy was four and a half years old when Patricia Mulvagh-Taylor and her husband Dave Taylor agreed they could love this little dog forever.

He was perfect — an 18-pound Bichon Frise/Lhasa Apso cross with a pronounced underbite that made him look like he was always smiling.

“I saw him for the first time through a car window. He was being brought to us by the Etobicoke Humane Society,” recalls Mulvagh-Taylor, 56. “I knew the second I saw him that I loved him.”

Andy had lived with an elderly lady who couldn’t care for him any more and put him up for adoption.

That was 10 years ago.

Home pet euthanasia in Toronto Ontario

Patricia Mulvagh-Taylor with Andy and Dr. Faith Banks in the living room, where Patricia has put down cushions to make life more comfortable for her ailing dog.

Andy is 14 years old now. And he’s not doing very well. He is near the end of his life — and the gentle soft-spoken couple, who were long-time federal civil servants, are heartbroken.

They would do anything — anything — for Andy.

But all they can do is make him comfortable, ease his pain and take it one day at a time. Last summer an MRI revealed that Andy has a brain tumour. A neurologist put Andy on prednisone, a steroid they hoped would shrink the tumour. But the neurologist was clear — Andy had entered a stage of care that was palliative.

It was time for the retired couple to talk about letting go, that difficult conversation about end-of-life care and, ultimately, euthanasia.

They’ve watched helplessly as Andy has become disoriented and clumsy. His vision and hearing became more impaired each day. “He holds his head against the couch or against my leg. He has tremors,” says Mulvagh-Taylor.

But while Andy was very sick, the neurologist told the couple that the tumour, because of its location, was not causing Andy pain.

The couple adapted their home to ensure Andy was safe from falls, removing the dining chairs he liked to sleep on and covering slippery hardwood floors with carpet. They made a pact that Andy would never be left alone. Mulvagh-Taylor and Taylor have never have never had children. They haven’t left their house together since last summer.

“I know some people might think this is crazy. But I don’t care what they think. This dog is the most important thing in our lives.”

When it became clear Andy was not going to get better, Mulvagh-Taylor searched the Internet for help.

Last fall they contacted Dr. Faith Banks, a veterinarian who specializes in in-home geriatric and end-of-life care.

“We decided years ago that we wouldn’t have him put down at a vet clinic,” says Mulvagh-Taylor. Over the years Andy had plenty of health issues and he was always terrified of the hospital, she explains. “We didn’t want to end his life that way.”

Mulvagh-Taylor knows there are vets who will conduct an in-home euthanasia. But Banks offered more than that. “She takes the whole situation into account. She counsels us and she cares for Andy. I feel so lucky to have found her. She helps us with the big question. Are we keeping him alive for us or for him? When is the right time to let go?”

Mulvagh-Taylor welcomes the clarity that Banks provides. “Andy gave us so much and I want to do the very best for him.”

Toronto veterinarian Dr. Banks, 42, works out of her car and insists the house calls are only marginally more expensive than a trip to the clinic.

“Like Andy, a lot of pets hate going to visit the veterinarian,” says Banks, who says she is more inclined to spend additional time with each pet because she isn’t on a clinic’s hectic schedule. Banks says there are very few veterinarians in Canada offering this hospice service, though it is more common in the U.S., she says.

With a new client, Banks studies the pet’s records supplied by the family vet, then conducts her own examination before consulting with the pet owners to develop a plan — monitoring the pet’s progress, sometimes over the course of months, as in the case of Andy, or sometimes through the final weeks and days.

She stays in touch by phone or email, prepared to attend to the pet as concerns arise. Banks uses a “quality of life” scale that involves a variety of factors, including the animal’s appetite, their mobility and their willingness to give and take love.

She asks owners to keep records of their pet’s health — checking for changes in daily routines that might indicate pain or further deterioration. Beyond medication, she teaches owners to use simple pain-relief therapies, including the use of ice, massage and even acupuncture.

With their pain under control, there is much that can be done to keep the animal engaged and comfortable, from adding extra padding to their beds to participating in exercises and games to keep their brains stimulated. “Even if they aren’t inclined to move around, take them outside so they can watch the birds. Find foods they like. Add ketchup for flavour. Warm it up.”

But every case ends with the same difficult decision.

“We have to be logical and realistic,” says Banks. “You can’t just treat, treat, treat. That’s not always in the best interest of the pet or the owner.”

Once the decision has been made, Banks performs an in-home euthanasia, on the pet’s bed, say, or in a favourite spot in the backyard.

“If our pets are about to die we all want it to be in a calm environment. We wish they would pass away in the night painlessly,” says Banks.

It is easier on everyone, especially the pet, if the procedure is conducted in familiar surroundings. The pet experiences less stress. The owners can grieve in private. They can cry if they want, without a lot of strangers standing around.

As well, explains Banks, other pets in the home can see what is happening. Dogs and cats grieve too, says Banks.

She’ll also create a paw print of the pet in soft clay which will harden into a keepsake. Banks will remove the deceased animal for cremation, returning the ashes at the owner’s request.

“A lot of people don’t accept pet loss for what it is. If someone has never had a pet they often don’t understand the bond that develops between people and their animals.”

Banks has been operating her mobile clinic for less than a year. She does not suffer from what’s called “compassion fatigue,” despite being surrounded by sadness. “I am always energized when I hear their beautiful stories.”

Banks feels she may have inherited her calm and reassuring bedside manner from her psychiatrist father.

“Guilt is a huge part of bereavement,” she says. “You control everything in the life of your pet and now when we lose that control we feel guilty.”

In response to this need for emotional support there are many programs available to help grieving pet owners, including the Ontario Veterinary College Pet Loss Support Hotline 519-824-4120 (ext. 53694) at .

They help pet owners with the range of emotions they feel once they’ve acknowledged the end is near, including “anticipatory grief,” the deep sadness that overwhelms pet owners before their pet is euthanized, the guilt they may feel as they make the decision to end their pet’s life and the unexpected relief they may experience once their pet is gone.

Pet owners may worry about the feelings of relief they feels with the death of a pet stems from relief that the work of caring from them is over.

Banks disagrees:“You feel relief because you know your pet is not suffering any more.”

Going gently into that good night

Dr. Faith Banks explains “a good death.”

“After the consent form has been signed, a strong sedative is injected under the skin over the rump area of the pet. Over the next five to 10 minutes, the pet will gradually become quite sedated and appear to be sleeping. During this time, the family is encouraged to speak gently and cuddle their pet. Once he or she is sleepy enough and doesn’t respond to a toe pinch, an intravenous catheter is placed into the pet’s leg.

“When the family is ready, the euthanasia solution is injected into the catheter, resulting in a peaceful, painless death. Euthanasia literally means “good death.” That is what I am there to provide.

“I will then listen to the pet’s heart to ensure it has stopped and the pet has passed. I offer to leave the family with a fur clipping and clay paw print that is made in front of them.

“If the family wishes, I will take their deceased pet home with me to be picked up by the crematory for individual or group cremation. I will return their pet’s cremated remains if that is what they choose.”

reprinted from the Toronto Star.
By: Living reporter, Published on Fri Feb 22 2013

Best Veterinarian in Toronto NOW Magazine 2012 Winner!

TORONTO’S BEST!! Voted Best Toronto Veterinarian!!

Downtown Animal Hospital has won the NOW Magazine Best of Toronto 2012 Award for Best Veterinarian!

Click here to see the best of Toronto Veterinarian 2012 results.

Downtown Animal Hospital is part of The Pet Wellness Network of Toronto Veterinarians.

Downtown Animal Hospital Toronto is conveniently located:

579 Church Street
Toronto, ON
M4Y 2E4

(416) 966-5122

Our Hours:
Monday to Friday: 8:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Saturday: 9:00 a.m – 11:00 p.m.
Sunday: 9:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.

Downtown Animal Hospital is open seven days a week and serves downtown Toronto neighbourhoods such as the Toronto waterfront,  Moss Park, St. Jamestown, Riverdale, Regent Park, Cabbagetown, Bay Street corridor, Church-Yonge Corridor,  Yorkville, Summerhill, Annex, St. Lawrence, Distillery, Corktown and Front Street.

Car Safety Measures are Critical for Pets

I want to tell you about 3 recent incidents that illustrate the concern regarding animals travelling in our cars.   In December, I was called by a distraught client’s family.  Their sister Louise was driving her car and was hit by a transport truck .  Louise herself was injured and in hospital.  At the time she had 4 dogs in the car.  Chico, a gorgeous Springer Spaniel, severed his spine on impact.  Tessa, a very gentle Italian Greyhound, escaped the car but was later found dead, apparently hit by a car.  Bud and Macho, both feisty terriers, survived the impact, with some minor bruising and abrasions.  I drove up to the township of Sharon to visit Louise in hospital and Chico in the local vet clinic.  Chico spent a few hours at my house sedated with heavy pain medications before Louise was released from hospital.  The whole family gathered around and we all spent time with Chico before we humanely euthanised him. Read More…

PRESS COVERAGE: Blessings Event

Since many of you were there, you’ll know that the Blessing of the Animals at St. Olave’s Anglican Church in Bloor West Village was a huge success. Not only did the neighbourhood come out to celebrate our pets, but the event also managed to catch the attention of some local press.

The amazing team at the Toronto Star came out and covered the day’s festivities and even mentioned our “teddy bear surgery” clinic for kids.

Read More…

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