The Alberta Farm Animal Care (AFAC) ALERT Line is a 24-hour, seven-day a week confidential line that is available to assist producers who are experiencing problems in caring for their animals, or for anyone who is concerned animals might be in stress.
Once a call is received at 1-800-506-2273, AFAC responds. “We have a resource team for every different commodity all across Alberta. We have on-call vets. We also have a number of industry personnel who look into concerns that have been called in,” says Pam Miller, ALERT Line co-ordinator.
The on-call veterinary service is unique to Alberta. Miller explains the role of on-call vets is not to go in and provide care for sickness but to provide advice and recommendations for management problems. Also unique is the working relationship with the Alberta SPCA . They provide livestock protection and enforcement throughout the province. The AFAC resource team and on-call veterinarians provide the SPCA with additional expertise and experience.
There is no reason for any livestock owner to feel that help isn’t readily available, emphasizes Miller. “We, at AFAC, would like to intervene before the animals reach a stressful situation. If we can get our people in there to provide counsel to the producer who is having problems then it doesn’t have to go the SPCA for enforcement.
Perception leads to many unfounded calls. Miller says that’s because people don’t understand what they are seeing. “They may see animals out in a pasture and they don’t see apparent water and food, yet the animals can go into a corral for their water and feed. Anytime we have really cold or really hot weather, the calls to the ALERT Line increase dramatically. We always let the caller know the results of our investigation.”