A pandemic isn’t going to stop veterinarian Michelle Tuma doing what she loves. After being laid off from the NWT SPCA, Tuma is taking her practice on the road.
Tuma told Cabin Radio: “Starting my own practice has always been in the back of my mind, and now the layoff in the pandemic really just kicked things into motion.”
Tuma is setting up a mobile clinic offering socially distanced house calls in Yellowknife. Services include immunizations, eye and ear exams, and behavioural assessments.
She wears a face mask and gloves at all times and never enters the client’s house, instead performing examinations on the porch or in the back yard.
“It’s going to be kind-of more from the comfort of the pet owners’ and the pet’s home,” she said. “[It’s] a bit more of a laidback approach to veterinary medicine so the pet owner and pet are comfortable.”
These measures are currently dictated by the territory’s health and safety protocols, but Tuma plans to keep the mobile clinic going post-pandemic. She expects her list of services to evolve as more restrictions lift.
For those outside Yellowknife, Tuma is offering consultations by phone or video – a practice already common in smaller communities. (An Alberta vet was recently granted permission to come up to the NWT to operate his regular mobile clinic in Fort Smith and Hay River.)
Tuma cautions she is not offering emergency services at the moment. Pet owners will have to go to existing local clinics for that.
Nonetheless, she’s excited to be back in the thick of things, caring for animals and following her passion.
“I’m really excited to see some of my older clients and patients again, and to meet some new ones as well,” she said.
“I had such great support from the community, and I’m really excited to offer my services to everybody again.”
The layoff from the SPCA was hard, Tuma said. She had been working there for two and a half years when the organization let her go, with several other staff members, due to financial pressures caused by the pandemic.
Luckily, she said, she’s surrounded by great friends, family, and community who have been sources of encouragement and support as she embarks on this new adventure.
“Starting your own business – it doesn’t matter what kind of business it is – it can be super nerve-wracking,” she said.
“I’ve been really nervous but excited to start this new path in my career. And having just this overwhelming support from the community has really helped ease my nerves.”
To book a consultation or house call, NWT residents can text Tuma at 867-670-2100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.