Local vet helps to extend sense of community

An Esquimalt painter wants to pay it forward after a local pet hospital saved her beloved dog in response to an online plea

Sarah Bell enjoys an afternoon along Dallas Road with her dog

By Daniel Palmer and Devon MacKenzie/News staff

An Esquimalt painter wants to pay it forward after a local pet hospital saved her beloved dog in response to an online plea.

Sarah Bell posted an ad to UsedVictoria.com in February requesting emergency dental help for 10-year-old Allie Mae in exchange for painting work.

“I was laid off four days before Christmas, and then Allie’s tooth broke,” Bell said. “I didn’t want charity, but I didn’t get any responses.”

A month went by before Bell got a call from Carly Russell-Huntley, community co-ordinator with the #usedhelps program.

“We try to find ways of helping people in our community who post on our site, and this one really stuck out to me because she just couldn’t afford to pay,” Russell-Huntley said.

After some phone calls, Russell-Huntley was able to connect with Dean Park Pet Hospital in North Saanich who donated about $3,000 in dental work for Bell and Allie Mae.

“We got a phone call asking if we’d be willing to help and we said sure,” said Dr. Sue McTaggart of Dean Park Pet Hospital, who added that many local vets do pro-bono work for those who can’t afford to have their pet’s medical needs taken care of.

“It’s about giving back to the community what you can, and we had the ability to help in this situation,” said McTaggart, who is one of only 11 veterinary dentists in Canada.

McTaggart did the extraction free of charge and didn’t take up Bell on her offer of painting services.

“Now she’s looking to pay it forward to someone else in need which I think is great,” she said.

Russell-Huntley agrees.

“Ally Mae is her best friend, she’d do anything for this dog, and now she really wants to pay it forward,” she explained.

As a result, Bell has recently posted a second ad offering her skills to a worthwhile person, non-profit or cause. UsedVictoria.com will cover paint costs up to $150 while potential recipients are asked to respond before June 16.

Today, Allie Mae is healthy and full of energy, while Saskatoon transplant Bell is feeling the love from the Greater Victoria community.

“I’m so thankful to the hospital staff who donated their time, the incredible vet and especially to Carly who did not give up and went the distance for us.”

To view Bell’s painting services ad online, visit bit.ly/Ui07J7.