A Red Lake resident has taken it upon herself to bring awareness to the lack of a veterinary clinic in the Red Lake area.

19-year-old Kristy McFadden from Red Lake has started a GoFundMe page to raise seed money to potentially have a vet clinic opened up in the area. McFadden says this cause is very close to her heart.

“I’ve had two pets pass away in the past, due to the distance it took them to get to the vet in Dryden,” says McFadden. “It’s something I feel needs to be addressed sooner than later. I’m taking the initiative, I feel like I’m young and I have the drive, and I really want to make something in this community.”

The closest vet clinic to Red Lake is in Dryden, which is over 200 kilometres southeast, that according to a survey she conducted has proven to be very costly.

“The average vet trip is $2,070. That is based on the average vet trip made due to emergencies. It’s roughly $1,000 for their surgery, $300 for their pills, and so on, so it does add up to about $2,000 for an average vet trip.”

According to the survey she held, 89.5 per cent of the respondents said they make up to four out-of-town vet trips a year, and 8.4 per cent make up to nine trips per year. As well, 77.2 per cent of those that responded said they would make more trips if a vet clinic was more accessible.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic the Hillcrest Animal Clinic in Dryden, offered a day clinic in Red Lake that ran every other month in January, March, May, July, September, and November at the Cochenour Hall.

Her goal through the GoFundMe page is to raise $500,000, which she says is just a starting point and a way for the community to be involved.

“That money is for the people that want to contribute. However, I am applying for grants, saving my own money, and going through the processes of getting it done in other ways. That $500,000 is just a starting point.”

Since beginning her journey, she has been contacted by several veterinarians that have shown interest in being a part of the process.

“I have had several vets reach out to me, and how they are either doing pro-bono work right now, or just it’s not about the money for them and they would love to move to a small community and just be able to help the pets here.”

There has been no word on a possible location in the area, but she has been working on the parameters of a building layout and her vision for the vet clinic. Along with having a more accessible vet clinic for Red Lake residents, there is also the potential for many jobs to be created as well.

“I’m hoping to bring in anywhere from 12-14 jobs from this, that is a rough projection, I understand that this may change over time. The bare minimum that I’m looking for is to have at least one vet, an assistant, a front desk worker, two cleaners, a pet groomer, and someone to sit with the pets.”

She mentioned she would outsource things such as accounting and management. The resident of Red Lake sees the potential to bring on co-op students in the area to create additional learning opportunities.

McFadden mentions that the response from the community has been overwhelming with the amount of support she has received.

“It feels like this was something the community was waiting for someone to take on and I’ve been getting messages or stopped and was told how happy and how surprised they are. I’ve had so many people tell me their stories and as much as it’s heartbreaking to hear, it’s so empowering to know that I have that support and that this is something that will be successful.”

So far since she began her GoFundMe on Monday (May 2, 2022) she has raised $1,150 of her $500,000 goal. Those who are interested in assisting in the process or wanting to donate can contact her through the Red Lakes Pet Clinic Facebook page.

One hurdle she has faced since bringing this idea to light is that people have brought her age numerous times.

“This is something that I am extremely passionate about and I think that my age is an advantage to me because I have so much time, and energy, and drive and passion to put into this.”

She concluded by saying that she is open to suggestions and having discussions with those that want to have or offer them. McFadden also said she would be open to entering into partnerships in the vet clinic with those that are interested.