A puppy dies in distress on the way to Amsterdam, and no emergency doctor can be found in Den Helder

Anyone who has to go to the vet at night or on weekends in Den Helder is increasingly relying on Amsterdam. This is too far for an emergency: an 8-month-old puppy dies in the car en route to Amsterdam. By anaphylactic shock, it turned out later. “I don’t dare have a pet anymore,” the puppy’s owner wrote in a Facebook post. The petition was signed more than 700 times in two days.


For Karen Van Best, the deceased puppy was the last straw. She is the treasurer of Dierenambulance Den Helder, Hollands Kroon, and The petition has begun. “It made me so angry. He should be your pet.” And the Animal Ambulance, which is run entirely by volunteers, increasingly doesn’t know where to turn for emergencies.

Van Best didn’t have time to think about what exactly she wanted to achieve with the petition: “I want to take it into politics. I think they can do more with it. There’s a huge shortage of vets and I understand that. But it’s getting more and more difficult, you have to too.” Dealing with frustration from the public.”

The eight-month-old puppy’s owner shared her story on Facebook (text continues):

Shouldn’t something be done about it? the puppy’s owner also wonders in the Facebook post. The many comments below her post suggest that it is.

There is a lot of confusion about where owners can take their pets. Animal Ambulance also noticed it. Van Best: “Sometimes we get stuck in line for half an hour before we know if we can go somewhere with an animal. It would be nice if they at least let the animal ambulance know when they close that we are not in front of a closed door.

The comments below the Facebook post also discuss where to find an emergency vet at night. Not in Den Helder – this is critical. The next option that has been suggested is Schagen Veterinary Practice. Reactions to this are mixed: some say the practice is within everyone’s reach, 24/7; Others say that this is only the case for clients who are registered for the practice. A final group reported that even clients now hear the answering machine at night. They also have to go to Amsterdam from 23:00.

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“That’s right,” confirms veterinarian Gertie Spielman of Chagen Veterinary Clinic. The practice is scheduled with 5 other practices in the area. It is the only emergency service that can still be reached outside office hours, but it is no longer accessible at night. “Until June 2022, this service was available 24/7. Unfortunately, we had to stop this because we had a lot of pressure and had a lot of calls from patients from other out-of-service clinics. We were woken up a lot in the night.”

“People start connecting. You can’t have that with her.”

Gertie Spellman – Schagen Veterinary Practice

They still run emergency services in the evenings, weekends and holidays. This involves alternating between the six affiliated practices, none of which are in Den Helder. “We welcome any practice that wants to participate in this service structure, but we expect that if you want to participate, you will, too.”

As long as this is not the case, practices within the association cannot help pets from other practices outside of business hours. Spellman: “These shifts are already filled from early morning until late at night. I notice people are starting to call. You can’t have that, because your hands are full.”

The disappearance of the Den Helder emergency service

There are four veterinary practices in Den Helder and Julianadorp. A few years ago, there were five people, and then they alternated evening and weekend shifts. Until the veterinary clinic chain Stad & Land took over the practice in Binnenhaven in Den Helder.

“They indicated they wanted to take over the emergency services,” says Sajak Salt of Sally’s Veterinary Clinic in Julianadorp. His practice is one of five carried out by the emergency services. “The other parties from Den Helder also found this post attractive.” Sallett says the current contingency schedule has been discontinued and Stad & Land will take over.

But the practice in Den Helder run by Stad & Land has now closed. The emergency service is still in Stad & Land, so animals in emergency situations have to go to the nearest emergency clinic, which is in Alkmaar. But that was no longer possible, says Salett: “It turned out that Alkmaar and the country couldn’t keep up with the demand either, so now I’ve moved to Amsterdam.” So pet owners in Den Helder are urgently counting on the long flight to Amsterdam.

Stad & Land was contacted to respond, but was not available due to busy times.

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