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LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Bemidji area pets need real emergency vet services

The following is a letter to the editor submitted to the Bemidji Pioneer by a reader. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the Bemidji Pioneer. To submit a letter, email letters@bemidjipioneer.com or mail it to Bemidji Pioneer, P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.

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The city of Bemidji does not have an emergency veterinary service. Accidents happen
to our furry family members "after hours" too. Between five Bemidji area veterinary clinics and hospitals, just one rotating on-call vet could save pets' lives.

Sunday, June 19, just before 3 p.m., my 1.5-year-old puppy cut her leg and was bleeding profusely (it pierced an artery). My husband and his mom wrapped and put pressure on the wound while I called the vet, who has an emergency answering service.

Ten minutes and two calls later, we got a text back telling us to hold pressure and that they "would not be available for several hours." We knew this was a life or death situation, so we called every Bemidji vet. The few who answered referred us to Fargo.

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Finally, at 3:20 p.m., in desperation, we called Cornerstone Veterinary Services in Gonvick. Thankfully, their vet, Dr. Bob Burgess, took us. We raced out the door and drove 57 minutes, keeping pressure on the wound and holding our bleeding puppy.

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Just two hours later, at 5 p.m., she was in the clear. The drive to Fargo alone would have been 2.5 hours.

Dr. Burgess and his new colleague, new to the area this week, had been performing
emergency surgery since the early morning hours with more cases on their way in. Their team of three works many long weekends answering emergency calls from all over our region. His only ask: that the veterinarians of Bemidji begin taking emergency calls.

Bemidji vets are open during regular work-week times only. Several boast emergency availability and one claims "After Hours Emergency. Weeknights: Open 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. and Weekends: Open 24 hours."

But this isn't 1999, and Bemidji is large enough that an answering service is no longer an appropriate response to a real emergency.

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My post about this in a Bemidji Chit Chat Facebook group revealed that this is not an isolated story. Pet owners from the Bemidji area shared terrible stories of their pets suffering life-threatening (and some sadly life-ending) incidents. All were referred to Fargo, but thankfully, some found the Cornerstone vet in Gonvick.

Our dog is safe now, but it was a terrifying experience. We have not yet received any follow-up from our regular vet via call or text, even during normal business hours.

Bemidji area pets need real emergency vet services.

What To Read Next
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.
The following is a letter to the editor submitted by a reader and does not reflect the views of the Pioneer. Letters can be sent to letters@bemidjipioneer.com or P.O. Box 455, Bemidji, MN 56601.