Canada’s veterinarians said Monday they’re willing to join in the nationwide efforts to address the COVID-19 pandemic even as they fight to ensure they’re allowed to keep providing care to the country’s animals.

The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association said several members have come forward offering to make their ventilators available for human use in order to ease the strain on the country’s overtaxed medical system.

The association said it’s currently in the process of surveying its members to get a feel for how much spare equipment could be pressed into service if required.

But veterinarians are also hoping to persuade governments across the country to declare them an essential service, saying such a designation would provide greater security during a time of increasing upheaval.

2:02B.C.’s provincial health officer on enforcing social-distance rules and keeping essential services going

B.C.’s provincial health officer on enforcing social-distance rules and keeping essential services going

Their efforts come as a growing number of provinces declare states of emergency or implement other measures meant to curb the spread of the novel coronavirus. Quebec and Ontario announced Monday that all non-essential business would close within the next 24 hours.

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“Veterinarians are an essential service,” said Dr. Ian Sandler, a practising animal doctor and a member of the association’s national issues committee. “We are the health care provider for thousands of animals across Canada,

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