The Travelling Vet Service
Wildlife Victoria’s Travelling Veterinary Service (TVS) is on call 7 days a week and is dispatched to assess and treat injured wildlife in field and in care - providing vital support not just to wildlife but also to Wildlife Victoria’s volunteer wildlife rescuers and wildlife rehabilitators at no cost.
Wildlife Victoria launched the TVS after a critical gap in round the clock wildlife veterinary support was identified across the state. Due to a state-wide shortage of vets, especially those with wildlife expertise, there are limited opportunities and locations for expert wildlife care in Victoria and to support our hard working first responders in field all day, every day.
In addition to Wildlife Victoria recognising a need for a nimble, mobile, in-field service that can meet day-to-day wildlife veterinary needs we also identified a need for this service to have the capacity to be deployed during major emergencies.
As a statewide Emergency Response Service, Wildlife Victoria is committed to providing veterinary services to wildlife in need across the state. In response to increased case volumes, a need for specialised wildlife-specific veterinarian services, and a general increase in population within the regions, Wildlife Victoria has established two TVS hubs located in Nunawading and West Gippsland.
Each hub is staffed in shifts with two veterinarians and 2 vet nurses operating from a custom-built 4WD vehicle. The TVS vehicle is fully equipped to perform detailed, roadside assessments which significantly reduces diagnostic time, allowing staff to provide appropriate care quickly to reduce animal suffering, and to improve health outcomes for treatable animals. Each vehicle is equipped with specialist and essential veterinary equipment including a mobile X-Ray machine, mobile anaesthesia machine, a darting gun, medications, veterinary consumables such as bandages and dressings, pull out treatment tables, fluid pumps and items for basic pathology such as a microscope and centrifuge.
Benefits of the Wildlife Victoria Travelling Veterinary Service
- The Wildlife Victoria Travelling Veterinary Service is provided at no cost to the Victorian community and to Wildlife Victoria volunteer rescuers and rehabilitators, saving our compassionate and hardworking volunteers thousands of dollars.
- Wildlife Victoria Travelling Veterinary units are deployed as first responders to wildlife incidents by the Wildlife Victoria Emergency Response Service where a veterinarian is required to attend a case.
- Wildlife Victoria’s veterinarians conduct in field assessment and triage of injured wildlife and perform prompt treatment or humane euthanasia as required.
- When not attending wildlife rescues Wildlife Victoria’s veterinarians provide free of charge “house call” services to Wildlife Victoria’s volunteer wildlife rehabilitators to assist with wildlife in care including assessment, dispensing medications and case management.
- Wildlife Victoria veterinarians operate under specific Standard Operating Procedures and Protocols and complete training prior to deployment. Veterinarians work in shifts to ensure full coverage 24/7 and in accordance with Wildlife Victoria’s operating hours.
- Each Wildlife Victoria travelling veterinarian is allocated to a specific region of need in Victoria and can be deployed as the on the ground regional veterinary expert in times of wildlife emergencies such as bushfires, storms, floods and heat emergencies.
- Wildlife Victoria, with its State-wide network of volunteers, and detailed knowledge of wildlife emergency response, is uniquely placed to develop a nimble, effective and efficient Wildlife Travelling Veterinary service that better meets the needs of the Victorian community both from the perspective of day-to-day wildlife veterinary support as well as for major emergencies.
Dr Alisdair Eddie
Alisdair is extremely passionate about animals, with a particular focus on conservation and wildlife.
Originally from South Africa, Alisdair moved to New Zealand to complete his veterinary degree with a focus on wildlife. After finishing his training, he worked for two years in a mixed practice that included treating exotic pets and local zoo animals. Alisdair made the move across the pond to pursue a full-time role with Wildlife Victoria.
Alisdair enjoys his role on a day-to-day basis but highlights getting to meet passionate and caring volunteers, and helping to rescue and rehabilitate the amazingly quirky Australian wildlife as the best parts of being a wildlife vet.
Dr Adrienne Robins
Adrienne graduated from vet school in 2015 and has worked in mixed veterinary practice in both Australia and New Zealand.
Living and working in a number of different areas has provided Adrienne the opportunity to see and treat a wide range of species, including wildlife. The opportunity to work in a full-time wildlife role was an opportunity she didn’t want to miss out on. Being out on the road each day and working alongside wildlife rehabilitators to provide a veterinary service to wildlife is challenging, but one that can be very rewarding.
Adrienne has a strong interest in conservation and is hoping to contribute to the efforts alongside many others to aid with the preservation of Australia’s native flora and fauna.
Dr Hannah Prestwood
Hannah graduated from university in the UK and started off her career as a Large Animal Veterinarian.
She then did a one year Rotating Internship at a Small Animal Referral hospital followed by a year working as a Small Animal Vet at a Charity Shelter Practice. She has always had a strong interest in wildlife and volunteered at wildlife rescues growing up and is an active Marine Mammal Medic in the UK responding to marine strandings.
After spending a month in Costa Rica as a Wildlife Veterinarian she decided to travel further to experience more wildlife and moved over to Australia to join Wildlife Victoria. She is looking forward to getting to know the volunteers and work with them to provide the best care and rehabilitation for the Australian Wildlife.
Ash has been working as a vet nurse since 2013 and has worked in both small and mixed animal practice.
While working as a nurse Ash also volunteered at a koala rescue and has a special interest in the rehabilitation and protection of koalas. Ash has always been drawn to caring for Australia’s native animals and enjoys contributing to their protection and care through her role at Wildlife Victoria.
Ash is from Gippsland and in her spare time enjoys roller skating, camping, hiking and adventuring with her Labrador Nala.
How you can help
Wildlife Victoria are currently seeking support to fund the roll out of two additional Travelling Vet Service hubs. This increase will allow for more regions of the state to be serviced as well as reduce response time to wildlife emergencies.
Each TVS vehicle costs Wildlife Victoria upwards of $200,000 to equip and deploy, with annual operating costs close to $500,000. To ensure each unit is adequately prepared for all wildlife scenarios, vehicles are equipped with a:
- Mobile X-Ray machine
This provides our vets access to high quality X-Ray images in the field.
- Mobile Anaesthetic Machines, Centrifuges and IV Fluid Pumps
These are essential pieces of equipment for carrying out assessment and triage in the field. This enables veterinarians to appropriately sedate wildlife to reduce stress and undertake diagnostic work and a range of procedures including debridement of wounds and stitches. Veterinarians are also enabled with this equipment to administer lifesaving fluid therapy in field by placing injured wildlife on drips, and to conduct basic blood work.
- Supply of medications and consumables
Our vets use a significant amount of prescription and other medications for wildlife in need and are able to dispense prescription pain relief, antibiotics and other medications to combat infection and treat each individual wildlife patient with the care and respect each creature deserves and to give each to best chance of recovery.