Vernon vet clinic goes beyond the call of duty to help animals in need

Dr. Sietske Rijnen and Dr. Murray Flock with the resident Creekside Clinic cat, Eugene.

VERNON - The Creekside Animal Clinic in Vernon has been giving back to the community almost as long as it’s been operating — which is getting close to 30 years now.

Founding partner Dr. Murray Flock says it’s just the clinic’s culture to have a charitable side, and at Creekside, that means emergency surgeries for animals brought in by the SPCA, assisting with animal cruelty cases, and hosting spay and neuter days for low-income pet owners. The clinic doesn’t have to do it, and certainly doesn’t make money from it. The vets, and the staff, do it because they care, and that commitment to animal welfare is what earned them the B.C. SPCA’s Veterinarian of the Year award this year. 

“It’s a business and there are of course economic constraints, but it’s also a humane, compassionate profession, and we try to find a balance,” Flock says humbly. “There’s an aspect where animals need attention, and the finances may not be there, but we try to give back.”

The clinic offers treatment for sick and injured animals in the SPCA’s care while providing significant discounts, which helps ensure as many animals as possible receive the lifesaving care they need. It also sponsors SPCA events, aids in the rescue of animals during cruelty investigations, and assists in reducing overpopulation through spay/neuter programs. The B.C. SPCA says the clinic can always be counted on to go beyond the call of duty, and has been instrumental in saving the lives of hundreds of abused and neglected animals in Vernon.

It can be challenging and emotional work at times. Some of the animals that come in are in pretty rough shape, Creekside vet Dr. Sietske Rijnen says.

“It’s hard, some animals are abused or neglected, or found on the side of the road. It can be tough sometimes,” she says.

As vets, the job is to minimize the animal's suffering as best as possible, Flock says. 

“It’s not the animal’s fault if it’s in some kind of dire straits,” he says. 

Vernon SPCA branch manager Chelsea Taylor says without the clinic’s support, many animals would be left without the care they need. The organization receives no government funding and relies entirely on donations and community support.

“We deal with (Creekside) daily, the vets and their support staff are incredible,” Taylor says. “We were pretty excited (about the award). We were really happy we could thank them in that way because they do so much for us.”

While clinic staff deeply appreciate the SPCA award, there are other rewards that reaffirm the work they’re doing, and those are the happy endings.

“If the animals get adopted and find homes, sometime’s they’ll be back. That can be really fun,” Rijnen says.

To contact the reporter for this story, email Charlotte Helston at or call 250-309-5230. To contact the editor, email or call 250-718-2724.


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