I want to break from my general legal analytical theme, and my general criticism and explanation of legislation on this blog and spend a few moments sharing a personal story.
Despite the fact that the Christmas season is generally the busiest time of year in my practice, and despite the fact that this year was made all the more busy by new legislation introduced to deal with impaired driving, my busy Christmas season was impacted significantly by something else.
On December 26, 2018, my dog fell ill. For those that do not know Wrigley, he is a schnauzer mix rescue that I adopted seven years ago this February. He is also my biggest supporter, my biggest source of emotional support, my best friend, my confidante, and the best part of my day every day.
It started with just general lethargy, which I thought was a reaction to all the stress of Christmas time. However, by December 27, Wrigley was barely able to walk. He vomited profusely all over my house. And he looked at me in a way that made me think he needed help urgently. He did. I took him to the emergency vet, where he spent the next two days. By December 30, 2018, I was told that he probably would not make it and that my best course of action was to put him down. His kidneys had failed. They could not get them working again.
Those that know me know that I am a fighter. I like to fight the unwinnable cases. And I like to win against the odds. It’s not just a commitment to the law that compels me to do this. It is deeply ingrained in my personality. And so when I was told that my dog would not survive I refused to accept that.
After much tearful discussion with the veterinarian, in which I made it clear that the dog was not going to die, I learned that there was a veterinarian trauma centre in Vancouver, Canada West Veterinary. Wrigley was transferred there within an hour. Paul Doroshenko carried him in his arms, they ran out and grabbed him, and he was gone.
From December 30, 2018 until February 3, 2019 Wrigley stayed in the ICU at Canada West. He was aggressively treated with fluid therapy, as he was determined not to be a suitable candidate for dialysis given the weight loss and his small size. He was treated primarily by three doctors, Dr. Bandt, Dr. Enberg, and Dr. Cheng with overnight support by Dr. Grammercy. And an amazing team of veterinary nurses and technicians looked after him every day, giving him medicine, food, massages, walks, and love and support.
I could not have asked for better care for Wrigley.
Wrigley did get better. There were a few close calls, as he has a heart condition that made it hard to treat him as aggressively as they may have otherwise without killing him. But I knew he was going to be coming home in the end when he started to chew his way out of the clinic. Wrigley chewed through IV lines, feeding tubes, electrical cords, and attempted to chew through metal bars all in an attempt to get home faster. He wanted to live, and he wanted to come home.
But the month during which he received his treatment also gave me a lot to reflect on. I drove to see him during visiting hours every day, barring when I was out of town. I talked to the veterinarians every day on the phone to go over lab results and treatment plans. And what kept crossing my mind was how fortunate I am to have been able to afford the treatment.
This was only because I received a settlement from ICBC a short while ago, which settlement funds I was able to allocate to pay the cost of Wrigley’s treatment. But had I not had access to that money I may not have been able to make the same decisions. And every day while in Canada West’s reception area I saw tearful people struggling to make that choice, or who were not able to pay the bills necessary to keep their pet there for a long term period.
I thought about my colleagues in the bar, and in particular those who are doing legal aid work and how little they earn compared to Crown Counsel despite often having to do more work to prepare their files. And I wondered what I could do to prevent anyone from having to be in the situation of having to say that they cannot afford a medical treatment that could save their pet.
And so I have established the Wrigley Emergency Animal Support Fund.
This is a non-profit organization (currently seeking charitable status) designed to provide financial support and assistance to members of the legal community who are facing emergency veterinary bills, or to help with the support of long-term veterinary expenses for animals with chronic conditions.
We treat the definition of legal community broadly, meaning that the fund would provide support for anyone connected to the legal community: lawyers, judges, judicial justices of the peace, sheriffs, police officers and law enforcement, court staff, registry staff, clerks, articled students, law students, law professors, support staff at law firms, courthouse librarians, staff at legal organizations, and anyone else who works within or closely with the legal community.
In the coming weeks the fund will build a website, with the help of Brazen Bull Creative, and we will establish an application form for people seeking financial assistance from the fund. We will also start collecting donations at a later date. My hope is that we will be able to obtain charitable status from Revenue Canada so that we can provide tax receipts to those who donate.
In the interim, please contact me privately if you have an emergency veterinary bill that you need assistance with and I will see what we can do in these early stages to give you assistance right away.
Vancouver Criminal Lawyer with a focus on impaired driving, cannabis legalization and related issues, and immediate roadside prohibition defence.