Glass shards lay under a broken window at Copper Road Veterinary Clinic in Whitehorse on Oct. 13.The Whitehorse veterinary clinic will be closing its doors at the end of the month after what the owner says is harassment has made working conditions intolerable for staff. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Glass shards lay under a broken window at Copper Road Veterinary Clinic in Whitehorse on Oct. 13.The Whitehorse veterinary clinic will be closing its doors at the end of the month after what the owner says is harassment has made working conditions intolerable for staff. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)

Copper Road vet clinic closing at the end of the month due to harassment, owner says

Veterinarian Marina Alpeza says she and her staff are facing constant demands for free service

A Whitehorse veterinary clinic will be closing its doors at the end of the month after what the owner says is harassment that has made working conditions intolerable for staff.

The Copper Road Veterinary Clinic, one of three veterinary clinics in town, will be shutting its doors come Oct. 31. While it will continue to offer some services online or over the phone after that, it will not have a new physical location until at least spring 2021, veterinarian Marina Alpeza said in an interview Oct. 13.

The clinic has occupied its location on Copper Road since 2000, and while Alpeza said the “everything was great in the beginning,” things began to take a turn about a decade ago.

“We’ve been having lots of harassment at work to the point where our receptionists are in tears, we had flood after flood after flood at the clinic … we had a person, a former employee breaking in in the middle night (and take a cash box),” Alpeza said.

“… I’ve been practising for 35 years. I’ve never ever had to work in those conditions. I don’t want to put my staff under those conditions, I don’t want to hire people.”

The News visited the clinic on Oct. 13, after Alpeza and another veterinarian at the clinic, Greg Pottie, discovered when coming in that morning that someone had thrown a rock at one of the clinic’s windows overnight, shattering the outer pane of glass, and used another rock to attempt to break the windows of a truck that had been parked outside.

Alpeza said it was the first time something like that had happened, but that she and her staff had been facing verbal harassment — mostly, people demanding free services from the clinic, including surgeries.

“Pressure on us to give free services is unreal,” she said. “I don’t see people going to Superstore or Canadian Tire demanding that they get, you know, products for free and you just can’t operate like that.”

There have also been issues with people setting up appointments and then cancelling them on short notice or failing to show up, she said, as well as people asking for “extensive” amounts of advice over the phone or by email and then not spending money, or spending very little, at the clinic.

“We just can’t do it, so it has to be, you know, done a little bit differently until we have somebody that will look into it, what’s going on,” Alpeza said.

The clinic will be keeping the same phone number after closing and can also be reached by email for consultations, medication refills and prepaid orders for prescription food. It’s advising anyone with an animal that needs immediate assistance to contact the Alpine Veterinary Medical Centre.

Contact Jackie Hong at jackie.hong@yukon-news.com

Veterinarians

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