Written by Dr. Barb Bryer,

DVM Head of Emergency Medicine

I can honestly say that I never expected to live through, let alone work through, a global pandemic. Given that I never really spent much time imagining what it would be like. This remains, even three months later, a bit of a surprise for all of us. Like most industries that were deemed essential, we watched as the middle of March approached like we were approaching an iceberg. We gaped in awe at the size of it as it appeared in front of our ship. Then we were forced to swing our ship rapidly away and avoid hitting the massive underwater menace that threatened to slice a hole in our vessel.

We quickly evaluated and stocked our shelves with medications, surgical supplies and personal protective equipment. The normal stocking procedures however could not be followed as we needed to be mindful of the requirements in the human medical field. We calculated exact numbers of surgical masks – revamped our anesthetic protocols to ensure that our emergency needs did not risk the potential needs in the human hospitals.

We rewrote standards of care to use alternatives that had been deemed second choice items due to their cost or comfort to ourselves. In some cases, we loaned out vital equipment to local hospitals in case the COVID caseload required more ventilators than their ICUs had. We never compromised on patient care.

We revised our own schedules to ensure that the hospital was staffed at all times and with the same services but with fewer staff members in the facility at a time. We started working alternate hours to prevent overlapping. We held Zoom rounds. We talk loudly (but not moistly) through our masks and from 6 feet away. We duck into rooms and alternate hallways to let teammates pass by. We are working longer hours in most cases.

We called owners and cancelled “elective surgeries.” We counselled on alternative management techniques, and with medications to help soothe the aching knee of a geriatric golden retriever – until our restrictions and supplies allowed us to reschedule needed surgery.

We performed telemedicine, often for the first time, and tried to discern if the wound was healing well or not based on the blurry picture you managed to get while your cat tried to squirm away. We imitated a collapsing trachea on the phone so that you could tell us if that is what your Pomeranian sounded like when he woke you this morning.

We have learned all makes and models of cars and understand now that beige and tan are the same colour. We try not to startle you when we approach, and you are looking down or adjusting the air conditioning. We smile with our eyes over our masks as we take your dog’s leash at arms-length and try to reassure both of you that we will take good care of your pet.

We clean. We clean your leashes and in some cases your pet if there are concerns about COVID in your household. We clean our hands until they are bleeding. We clean keyboards and telephones to the point that we are replacing them as they short out. We change out of our clothes before we go home.

We miss you. We miss witnessing and sharing the bond that you have with your pet. We miss hearing your comforting words as we meet your cat or your dog for the first time. We wish that you could see how we give your dog as many treats as they want so that they aren’t scared or how we sit quietly with our cat until they come out of the carrier on their own. We wish that we could see your face and read your body language as we impart vital information to you about your pets’ health. We wish that you could visit your dog to see if he will eat for you.

We are here. We are doing our best. We really appreciate your patience right now. It is not easy, but I think we are doing a great job of getting through this together. Sorry if I gave your dog too many treats.

About The Company

Animal Health Partners Toronto is a new veterinary emergency and specialty hospital modeled after best practices in human medicine. Lead by a team of highly qualified veterinary specialists, Animal Health Partners Toronto Emergency and Specialty Hospital is bringing the world’s best practices of private human healthcare to veterinarian care.


The technical proficiency and medical equipment at Animal Health Partners equals or exceeds that found in sophisticated human hospitals. 

Animal Health Partners provides the highest-quality Veterinarian Services in Toronto. Our specialists combine their collective knowledge and skill in the treatment of complex or multifaceted cases. We serve as an extension of your family veterinarian and provide exceptional specialty care by treating our patients as if they were our own pets.

Our Core Values


At the root of all we do at Animal Health Partners is a commitment to the highest quality of veterinary care. This means that the diagnostic tests we run and the treatments we provide are informed by the best available scientific evidence and implemented by the most highly qualified veterinarians and staff.


We understand that the experience of illness and injury can be painful and scary for pets and their owners. We strive to reduce discomfort as much as possible using gentle handling techniques, appropriate pain-management, stress-reducing design features, non-invasive interventions and a continuous emphasis on empathic patient-centered care.


Intrinsic to our goal of providing the highest quality of medicine is providing efficient, courteous, attentive and responsive service to the owners and referring veterinarians that have entrusted us with the care of their pets and patients.


Medicine is rapidly evolving. Our technologically advanced institution is equipped to employ and pioneer the most cutting-edge diagnostic and treatment modalities available in veterinary medicine with the goal of improving the quality of care for all patients.


High-quality care and optimal patient outcomes rely not on any one individual but on the strength of the connections between many. Ensuring the best possible outcomes for our patients means creating solid partnerships with their owners and referring veterinarians. It also means establishing relationships more broadly with the community, the human medical field and with industry.

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