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Long distance house call

Dez Loreen
Northern News Services
Friday, May 18, 2007

INUVIK - Over the past six years, veterinarian Dr. John Overell of Dawson City, Yukon has gotten to know many of the pets in Inuvik.

NNSL Photo/Graphic

Dr. John Overell, a veterinarian from Dawson City, Yukon, visits Inuvik regularly to treat the town's pets. Here he keeps an eye on Fluffy the cat while she rests after a needle. - Dez Loreen/NNSL photo

"I know a lot of the older animals in town, which is good for both of us. It helps me know the background and the animal is comfortable," said Overell.

"Actually I can remember the animal's name before the person's sometime."

Overall travels to Inuvik about four times a year.

"We'll drive if we can, but we flew in this time," he said.

Last week the vet was working out of the Aurora Research Institute.

Overell said his relationship with Aurora College has been great.

"The college has provided me with working space in their art studios in the past," he said.

"I've been using the research centre as the location this time."

Overell said the scheduling of appointments is handled by the SPCA workers in town.

"I used to have a friend take the appointment dates for me, but the SPCA is handling that once again," said Overell.

Overell said that even though his visits are advertised early, he still gets a lot of walk-ins.

"Some people won't even know I'm here until they see a cone collar on a dog," said Overall with a laugh.

"But there is always some time for walk-ins."

Last week a student from the high school spent some time with him in the vet office.

"The student said she wanted to learn about being a vet, so she spent some time with us during appointments," said Overell.

Overell said packing for the trip north takes a full day.

"We pack our vaccinations and some surgical tools," he said.

Overell said some of his supplies are driven up and stored with a local man, which saves money on freight when he flies to Inuvik.

"We'll bring all our heavier things, like fluids and general stock with us in September when we make the drive," said Overell.

Overell travels to Inuvik with aide Chris Wilkinson.

The services the two provide range from vaccinations to minor surgeries.

Overell said serious operations are taken south.

"We can take care of a few minor injuries in town, but nothing serious," said Overell.

Keeping costs down is important to Overell.

"I want vet services to be available to anyone in town," he said.

After his battery of visits and walk-ins, Overell packed his equipment on Sunday night and returned to Dawson City. He will be back in town this fall.