A Caithness vet will try to help a cat that has potentially been poisoned by lilies and a sheepdog whose unborn pups might be in trouble in a new series of The Highland Vet.
The documentary is back on the screens this week and will also show how car park consultations and two different treatment teams have become the Covid norm.
The documentary series showcases the inner workings of vets, vet nurses and staff at DS McGregor and Partners in Thurso and Wick as they care for a variety of animals in the far north.
The latest six-part series, returning to 5 Select on Monday, showcases the team’s dedication in delivering care amidst the Covid-19 pandemic, despite a reduced workforce and restrictions.
Practice director Guy Gordon reflected on the last year and how continuing to deliver their essential care gave staff “something to get up for in the morning”.
He said: “We have been trying to keep our veterinary services going as best we can within the guidelines.
“We have done a lot of car park consulting, having to keep clients out of the building; we’ve been wearing masks which we all eventually got used to and there have been occasional periods where we haven’t been doing routine work.
“We’ve pulled through and I think from a veterinary point of view, coped very well. We have not had any disasters, problems or issues relating to the treatment or welfare of animals. We have always managed to do our best by them.”
He added “I think what has helped us was the fact that we have had a job to carry on doing in providing an essential service and having a focus which takes your mind off the Covid situation. It gives you something to do, makes you feel useful and gives you something to get up for in the morning.
“I think that has helped with the anxiety. We haven’t just been sitting around wondering what is going on with the virus and actually getting on with what we actually do; albeit in a different and more controlled environment.
Trials and tribulations of filming amidst a pandemic
Footage for the upcoming episodes gives viewers an insight into how staff navigated restrictions to maintain their vital services.
Due to stringent lockdown measures, routine and non-emergency work was curtailed at the surgery for some time, before staff were able to return to a new ‘business as usual’ approach, delivering car park consultations.
Mr Gordon spoke of the logistical challenges they faced in helping bring the latest Highland Vet series to the screen.
“There were differences to filming,” he said.
“We had to split the teams here within the surgery and function with two teams of people as best we could whilst trying to keep separate. This was so if one team went down with Covid we still had people to carry on the veterinary work.
“When the camera crews arrived we had a camera crew per team so that there was minimum cross pollination.
“It did make life a little bit tricky and stressful at times but it was necessary. We have to abide by regulations and not put ourselves at risk.”
What can viewers expect from the first episode?
In episode one of the latest series of The Highland Vet, the surgery director has an emergency case to tackle when six-year-old cat Jess is brought in by her owner after she was spotted eating lilies from a flower vase.
The incident is a potentially life threatening one because lily pollen is highly toxic for cats.
Mr Gordon must work out how to extract the poison before Jess’ internal organs are damaged.
Vets are also faced with a nervous labour situation of a local Border Collie.
Shepherdess Billie arrives at the surgery with her jittery pregnant Border Collie Bo. Bo is in labour but things are not progressing as expected with signs her unborn pups might be in distress.
Vet Margaret and her team of vet nurses do what they can to help as an increasingly agitated Bo looks like she may face surgery to resolve the issue.
Mr Gordon says he hopes the series will give viewers a rare insight into life behind the scenes of the surgery.
He said: “I hope that viewers see that the veterinary profession have been trying their best just to get on with doing the best for their animals under the restrictions and I think it will give the public an insight into how we have managed to do that.
“They also, just like with the previous series, will get that insight behind the scenes. They often leave their pets with us for the day and I think it will be quite interesting for the public to see the other angle, the bits they don’t see behind the scenes; for instance how their pets are handled, treated and the going’s on in the veterinary surgery.”
It is narrated by Downtown Abbey star Phyllis Logan, and follows in the footsteps of Channel 5’s sister show The Yorkshire Vet.
Viewers can tune into episode one on 5 Select at 9pm on Monday.