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Old September 29th, 2003, 04:48 PM
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Royal treatment for a sick Rover

$5M animal hospital to treat cancer
Oakville facility to be state of the art

FRANK CALLEJA
STAFF REPORTER

A $5 million veterinary emergency hospital being built in Oakville will offer cancer treatment, orthopedic surgery and eventually a CAT scan and MRI in what is said to be the largest such medical treatment facility for pets in Canada.

Construction on the 21,000-square-foot building began yesterday on a site on Bristol Circle, near Winston Churchill Blvd. and the Queen Elizabeth Way, on the Oakville-Mississauga border.

"This will be the largest private facility of its kind in Canada and one of the few existing in the world," said Dr. Wolfgang Zenker, veterinarian for the High Park zoo and one of 20 veterinarians involved in the project.

He expects the hospital, due to open next spring, will treat up to 30,000 pets every year.

Zenker, a well-known veterinarian in Oakville for 33 years, said the hospital has been eight years in the planning and was inspired by a growing need for a facility that is able to offer leading-edge medical services for pets, including dogs, cats, birds, and more exotic creatures such as rabbits and reptiles.

"With provision for an MRI, a linear accelerator for cancer treatment, and a CAT scan, the hospital will serve as a referral centre for specialists during the day and an emergency treatment centre after hours," Zenker said.

Although there is no fee schedule available, rates for procedures will be competitive, he said.

"More than 50 per cent of Canadians own pets. We expect owners from across the country and the U.S. will bring their animals here because the specialized services are simply not available anywhere else in the community," he said.

"For example, one of the areas we will eventually develop will be for the treatment of cancer, and the hospital will eventually have a linear accelerator which is used in cancer diagnosis."

There will be six specialist examination rooms, four treatment rooms, and a hydrotherapy room with a variable-height water tank complete with a treadmill walker for exercising dogs after special operations.

Zenker said there will be on-site laboratory blood testing, three operating rooms, x-ray facilities, three wards and 15 kennel suites for post-surgery recovery. There will also be an emergency department with six examination rooms that will be open all day.

The hospital, known as the Mississauga-Oakville Emergency Veterinary Clinic, will be an around-the-clock operation, and have 12 specialists on duty during the day and three emergency veterinarians overnight.

"In all, there will be a staff complement of 70 to 80 and we'll add staff, specialists and equipment as the facility grows," said Zenker, who has operated Burloak Animal Clinic, on Lakeshore Rd. W. in Oakville, since 1970.

Zenker is a specialist in treating exotic animals, including large cats like tigers and lions.

As a youngster, he was known as the boy with the alligator.

He raised the alligator until it was about 2 metres long before selling it to a reptile museum in Parry Sound.

"We've come a long way in the treatment and understanding of animal care and this new facility will not only help with that care, but also enhance our ability to improve quality of life for pets," he said.
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