Pan Am Games: Veterinary Service Plans for Toronto 2015 with Mike Pownall, DVM

The Pan Am Games are coming! “Toronto 2015” may be the event’s nickname, but you’ll find the equestrian events outside the city limits, primarily at Caledon Equestrian Park. Today, The Jurga Report shares a special report from Ontario veterinarian Dr. Mike Pownall, Veterinary Services Manager for the Pan Am Games. Imagine the planning that goes into preparing for the possible medical and injury situations that might occur before or during the Games! Dressage horses will be arriving as soon as July 6th, with competition starting on July 11.

Here’s Dr. Pownall’s personal preview of how the horses’ health will be protected.

In less than two weeks, the first dressage horses will be arriving at the Caledon Equestrian Park to participate in the Pan Am Games and the list of things to do to prepare for them continues to grow. 

Dr. Mike Pownall, Veterinary Services Manager for the Pan Am Games

As the Veterinarian Services Manager for the Games, I am responsible for coordinating all of the veterinary care for the competing horses, so this has required working with those responsible for bringing the horses to Canada, preparing biosecurity protocols, arranging for the many veterinary team volunteers and ordering the right medications, supplies and equipment to support the teams and their horses.

I have been very pleased by the generosity of 20 equine veterinarians and 18 veterinary technicians who are willing to volunteer their time to help. The Games have highlighted the close relationships veterinarians in Ontario have with each other. We also have 15 veterinary students from all across Canada who are using the Games as part of their third-year externships. 

We had numerous clients and vet colleagues volunteer to billet the students but one student who lives in Ontario volunteered the nearby family cottage to host all of the students. Fortunately, they won’t all be there at once, but what a great experience for students to meet other students from the other vet colleges.

One of the things I wanted to do when I was selected VSM was to offer as many voluntary opportunities as possible for students. When the Pan Am Games were in Winnipeg in 1999, Dr. McKee (my wife) and I were fortunate to be student volunteers. The exposure to high level competition and the contacts we made with other vets were very useful as we developed our practice. We both wanted to make sure we gave back to students and we are fortunate that we are able to do so.

The vast showgrounds of the community-owned equestrian park in Caledon, Ontario include a huge new indoor stadium, a new FEI Grand Prix arena and FEI-approved warmup rings, permanent spectator seating, improved stabling and high-quality footing in all competition and warmup rings. The equine hospital has been marked with a red circle by The Jurga Report.

In the coming two weeks, I will be arranging to have veterinary equipment set up in our portable vet treatment area before the final security sweep on July 5. Numerous suppliers have generously loaned us equipment so we can offer full medical support to the equine athletes. We will have a full diagnostic laboratory supplied by Idexx for on-site blood and urine analysis, along with expedited analysis of samples that need to be seen at their main laboratory in Markham, Ontario. 

They are also loaning us their latest digital X-ray units so we can offer on-site digital imaging along with a digital ultrasound supplied by Sonosite. We use all these services and equipment in our vet practice so we are comfortable offering them to the equestrian competitors.

I’m also putting together a large order of medications and supplies to treat whatever situation arises. In the biosecurity area, we are using Accelerated Hydrogen Peroxide (AHP) technology products (Accel)for disinfecting and cleaning to maintain the highest biosecurity standards. If we have a major problem or disease outbreak we will be using the Ontario Veterinary College as our referral hospital, but we hope we will be able to handle most situations on site.

I’m also working on the preparations for the cross-country phase of three-day eventing. This is when we will need the most support from our veterinary team so that we can cover all areas of the course. We will also have a temporary veterinary treating area at Will O’ Wind Farm in Mono, Ontario, site of the cross-country event, so we will have to juggle many responsibilities during eventing week.

McKee-Pownall Equine Services made this video to be shown during one of Dr. Pownall’s presentations during the Royal Winter Fair in Toronto. It stresses the partnership between veterinarians and horseowners.

Dr. Pownall and his wife, Dr. Melissa McKee, launched McKee-Pownall Equine Services in Ontario in 2002. It has now grown to four equine hospitals. Dr. Pownall recently completed an Executive MBA degree and also advises other veterinarians on business management through Digital Pulse Consulting and his blog at

Thanks, Dr. Pownall, for sharing this information. Thanks to all the veterinarians who have volunteered to staff the hospital and the cross-country course during the Games.




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