SPCA takes ownership of Penticton vet clinic

Retiring after 41 years veterinarian Dr. Steve Harvey wanted to leave a lasting, living legacy to his community.

Manager Corinne Ross of the South Okanagan Similkameen branch of the SPCA waits as Dr. Michael Lavroff and Katie Craig work on a patient at the Penticton Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital. Dr. Steve Harvey who opened the clinic and is retiring and the SPCA have reached an agreement to have the non-profit organization to take over opperations at the facility in early July.

Manager Corinne Ross of the South Okanagan Similkameen branch of the SPCA waits as Dr. Michael Lavroff and Katie Craig work on a patient at the Penticton Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital. Dr. Steve Harvey who opened the clinic and is retiring and the SPCA have reached an agreement to have the non-profit organization to take over opperations at the facility in early July.

Retiring after 41 years of caring for domestic and wild creatures veterinarian Dr. Steve Harvey wanted to leave a lasting, living legacy to his community.

To do that, Harvey, 68, recently reached an agreement transferring ownership of his Penticton Veterinary Diagnostic Hospital to the BC SPCA effective July 6.

“When we built this hospital 15 years ago it never was my hospital I just felt it was a community hospital,” said Harvey who has helped the SPCA and other non-profit agencies in providing care and emergency treatment for sick and injured animals over the years. “It’s theirs (people of the community) and the best way I could facilitate that was to incorporate that idea with the SPCA and they’ve taken that on and it’s a great thing for the people and animals of this area.

“This is a community hospital they (SPCA) are taking over. It’s not about professionals cashing in, it’s about serving the community. It’s not a cash cow, it’s a service and I feel very strong about that.”

The Penticton clinic is the fourth veterinary facility for the society which also has a full-service hospital in Vancouver and spay/neuter clinics in Prince George and Kamloops.

“We are extremely grateful to Dr. Harvey who has made a significant contribution to enable us to acquire this facility,” said BC SPCA chief executive officer Craig Daniell. “It is Dr. Harvey’s vision, and our own, that this hospital will continue to be a community asset and that we can work closely with other communities such as Osoyoos, Keremeos and Midway to reduce the number of cats and kittens who die needlessly each year because of overpopulation.”

Under terms of the agreement the hospital will retain existing staff and offer the same services to the public, including boarding of animals.

There are additional plans in the future to expand spaying/neuter services as well as providing badly needed after-hours coverage at the hospital.

Currently the closest after-hours care is in Kelowna which in medical emergencies or with alack of transportation, is not always a viable option.

“We are extremely excited to be working with the staff at the hospital to further promote animal welfare in the region,” said Daniell.

In the acquisition deal the BC SPCA will assume ownership of the hospital, while Harvey retains ownership of the Duncan Avenue building.

Branch manager Corinne Ross of the South Okanagan Similkameen SPCA in Penticton was also particularly happy and grateful after learning of the agreement.

“Dr. Harvey has really made this huge contribution to us and it’s incredibly generous, so it will be fantastic going forward,” said Ross. “It is a very positive thing for the entire area and adds another dimension to the services already here.

“It’s really about the community and the animals we are going to be able to help, it can only be a good thing.”

The hospital itself, according to Harvey, is one of the most progressive in the province, something he wanted to provide in the community when it was built 15 years ago.

“We’ve taken veterinary medicine here ahead of the curve,” he said. “We took it beyond what the average veterinarian does in their practice today and advanced it as far as I could.”

That includes CT scanning, laser surgery, digital x-ray and an in-house, quality-controlled laboratory.

“I’ve always been an animal person and this (deal with the SPCA) fulfills a dream,” said Harvey who is a lifetime society member. “It was a run and a great adventure. I’ve enjoyed it and now I’m moving on to a different stage in my career.”