IN the Warracknabeal office of Wimmera Mallee Veterinary Services, Dr Anthony James has been busy as ever treating house and farm animals as well as livestock within the district.
Tirelessly working even before the COVID restrictions came into place, Dr James values being able to partially contribute during the challenging times.
“I do see it as an essential service more so because of its contribution to agriculture,” he said.
“On the rural side, it has been a really good season. Because sheep have had value at the moment, farmers have been prepared to spend money on individual sheep.
“It’s been a real challenge but it’s been really exciting because I feel like I’m contributing to the broader community.”
But while Dr James is professional concerns are directed at the agriculture industry, he knows that other industries are also struggling,
“You can’t underestimate tourism in the region. I feel very sorry for a couple of places that don’t affect me personally but emotionally affect me: there is a cafe in one of the small towns that just opened up and what a bad time for them to open up.”
Valuing the community’s support since opening, Dr James said that rapport and being close to the community drives him to ensure that he and the staff provide a quality service.
“You know, you will feel bad because you are likely to run into the person on the street so you do care about the animal more so than an anonymous face in the city,” he said.
“That’s the beauty of being in a small town is that you get this personal feedback.”
This has translated beyond just his veterinary services, with Dr James shopping locally as much as he possibly can.
“In Rainbow, I use Rainbow people. In Warrack, I use Warrack people and if I can’t find the right person in Warrack, I will try to not go outside of the district,” he said.
“And if we really can’t get what we want, we have a triage system where we go to places like Horsham, Ballarat or Bendigo.”
Staff at the office have been working tirelessly, Dr James said, with him thanking his extra staff for allowing him to get about into the field where he can treat farm animals and livestock.
Looking to accommodate the social distancing requirements as well as community concern, Dr James said that along with opening up the waiting room and reception area with new seating, he doesn’t mind going out into the field.
“We’ve had a few people who are less willing to travel so we’ll go pick up an animal or even do home visits within a reasonable distance. I’m not averse to going over to Hopetoun if I need to. I’ve even been up to Watchem to see a few animals,” he said.
“If people are self-solating, it doesn’t mean that their pets have to suffer so we will make every effort to accommodate those with restricted access or problems with mobility but that would happen even without COVID.”