'Tails of Help' at CanWest Veterinary Conference 2014

CanWest Veterinary Conference – Phone Interview with Dr. Jen Willans (DJW) by Katie Disher (K)

The 2014 CanWest Conference was held October 25-28 (Saturday -Tuesday) at the Fairmont Banff Springs Hotel with an additional Trade Fair taking place during the weekend dates. Tails of Help was at the Trade Fair with our booth staffed by volunteers to provide information to visitors. Tails of Help president Dr. Jen Willans was a participant and spent a few minutes discussing the conference with our Communications team.  Below is her interview.  

View of Canwest 2014 veterinary conference trade show area

Katie: Can you give me some background / history of the CanWest Conference?

Dr. Jennifer Willans: Veterinarians, in order to maintain registration/licenses need to do continued education hours. The Alberta Veterinary Medical Association (ABVMA) hosts the CanWest conference as a way for veterinarian professionals to earn their continuing education credits and has speakers come in on various topics.  Veterinarians and technologists attend and it tends to be Alberta focused and has a lot of social activities.  

The Trade Fair features a variety of suppliers; including those that sell medical equipment, pet food, and pharmaceutical providers so they can showcase their goods and services.

Besides these suppliers, they also open the floor to non-profits like us, Tails of Help.  We had a booth this year and benefitted from the exposure and foot traffic of Trade Fair goers.

K: Did Tails of Help play any part in this year’s conference?

DJW: Tails of Help (TofH) had a booth in the Trade Fair.   It was a great way to continue to spread the word about Tails of Help.   Participants were happy to see TofH at the Trade Fair.  People in my profession know there is a need for our charity and anyone that is working in the animal healthcare world understands why TofH is here.

Tails of Help booth at CanWest 2014 Conference Trade Fair

At the Trade Fair, people who stopped at our booth had logistical questions such as how do I submit an application, how does this case apply, how the charity is going, and what has been the uptake. Our participation and presence allowed us to continue to share information to an interested audience.

Bronze Sculpture generously donated by the ABVMA for silent auction

Bronze Sculpture generously donated by the ABVMA for silent auction

A number of years ago, the ABVMA commissioned an artist to create some bronze sculptures depicting the human animal bond. The ABVMA generously donated one to Tails of Help. We were able to have an auction at the booth as a fundraiser for Tails of Help. This helped draw attention to our booth.

Info sheet for the Bronze Sculpture Silent Auction

K: What was your involvement in this year’s conference?

DJW: I was an attendee for the conference lecture sessions.  During breaks, however, I would take a walk down to the Trade Fair and volunteered at the Tails of Help booth.  We had Board Members and volunteers staffing our table and it was just great to be able to interact with the team.  It was such a change from the Tails of Help booth at last year’s conference; this year people knew who we were! 

K: What did you enjoy the most at this year’s conference?

DJW: I like the social activities that go on throughout the conference. Every year there is a fun hockey tournament.  This year, at the hockey game, a member of the ABVMA suggested the audience provide donations for Tails of Help and it was a huge success!

We are starting to get sponsors in the industry. One of our corporate sponsors, Boehringer Ingelheim, even put our logo on their brochure in their giveaway bag to conference goers.  It was good to see such supportive actions for our organization.

All in all, I enjoyed a combination of things.  Day to day as a vet, I sometimes miss that collaborative learning environment which we gain from participating in the conference. Learning new things keeps me interested and enthusiastic about my profession, as well as directly benefiting my veterinary patients. 

K: What was your overall takeaway from the event?

DJW: We are making improvements with growing awareness of Tails of Help within our profession.  People know who we are now. That feels good. There’s some recognition. The Alberta Association of Animal Health Technologists (AAAHT) continues to be very supportive of our cause.  The AAAHT is a Platinum Donor to our Founders Campaign and they continue to do lots of things to encourage people to volunteer and donate to Tails of Help. 

Founders Campaign Poster at Tails of Help booth