Cooing gentle language into a two-year-old feline’s ear, Dr. Michelle Oakley and her vet technician spread the cat out on either end of the table to X-ray his injured left paw. After three tries, they finally get a clear image by carefully taping the right paw out of the way so it doesn’t obstruct the X-ray. The verdict: no broken bones.

Oakley, who runs a satellite veterinary practice out of the American Bald Eagle Foundation in Haines about three days a week, is in her sixth season of filming “Yukon Vet,” a reality TV show produced by Nat Geo WILD that follows her all-species vet practice between Haines and Haines Junction, YT and around the globe. The mobile, digital X-ray used on Ben was delivered last week, as part of a roughly $100,000 equipment package loaned to the show as part of a trade-deal from various companies in exchange for free advertising and expert testing.

The new technology has saved many Haines residents a trip to Juneau for pet treatment, an opportunity that had not been afforded to the community in the past. Most recently, the X-ray equipment has been used on dogs, cats and ponies in Haines.

This is the second year of having a portable X-ray and Oakley describes the newest version as top-of-the-line.

“This one is like the Cadillac of veterinary equipment. I mean, it’s not the Cadillac, it’s the Jaguar,” she said. “I don’t know much about cars.”

Oakley was able to bring her clinic to Harriet Brouillette’s barn to help her lame pony in October.

“She had this wonderful machine that she was able to take X-rays in the barn,” Brouillette said. From the results, Oakley determined that the pony’s hooves would start growing in again if trimmed in a specific way, and that she was not permanently crippled.

“If we hadn’t been able to do that X-ray, I probably would have had to put my pony down,” Brouillette said.

Longtime Haines resident and pet owner James Alborough said that for two decades, emergency pet service meant flying to Juneau or fixing the problem yourself.

“For 22 years, there’s never been a vet that lived here all the time. So you got lucky or you didn’t, and if you didn’t, you y or you take care of it yourself,” he said.

On Friday, Alborough got lucky. His malinois-boxer, Nala, was experiencing breathing problems and Alborough said he knew it “wasn’t good.” At the clinic, Oakley X-rayed Nala and found she had “severe pneumonia” which the dog wasn’t showing any other signs of.

“If we hadn’t taken that X-ray my advice would not be as good based on her symptoms,” the vet said. “She didn’t look that sick, so the X-ray just really helped.”

Oakley credits the show as the single reason she’s able to run her business and live primarily in Haines, where her youngest daughter goes to high school.

According to Oakley a typical vet practice needs a town of either ten thousand people, or about three to five thousand patients to float.

“We’re nowhere near that,” Oakley said of Haines, which has a population of about 2,500 people. “Without the show, I don’t know that I could afford to be here,” she said. “I couldn’t afford it because my clients couldn’t afford it.” Her vet bills would be higher because of all the overhead, she said.

In addition to the portable X-ray equipment, the network made trade-deals for an ultrasound machine, a laser unit to help speed healing in animals suffering from arthritis, and a thermal camera used to locate wildlife in the eld and to pick up areas of injury or inflammation, which show up as heat.

Last February, Kim Phillips and her five-pound pregnant Yorkshire terrier, Dixie, benefited from Oakley’s ultrasound equipment. When Dixie went into labor, “it was snowing like mad and there was no way I was going to be able to get out,” Phillips said. Oakley was able to do an X-ray to assess the size of the puppies, and whether or not Dixie could have a natural birth. It was determined that a C-section was necessary, which Oakley was able to perform in Haines.

The equipment hasn’t been a benefit to just Haines’ pets and the raptors at ABEF, but wildlife all over Alaska, Canada, and the world. Oakley’s professional experience includes working for the Yukon government as a wildlife vet and biologist, at the Calgary Zoo, Fortress of the Bear in Sitka, Alaska Wildlife Conservation Centre in Girdwood, and a reindeer farm in Palmer. A large part of the show covers wildlife species, which Oakley said she is more comfortable treating than dogs and cats.

“If you work on a wolf, you can work on a dog,” she said “I’m just doing it in reverse from how most people have learned it.”

Oakley used the same ultrasound equipment to diagnose Dixie as she did on ibex in France.

“Ultrasounds even 20 years ago were these huge things,” she said “Now I have one that is smaller than a laptop, goes in a backpack, it’s waterproof, and it has glasses that allow me to see the screen easily in bright light, like when working in blinding snow.” The vet said that having equipment that’s resistant to the weather is crucial for her job, which often involves fieldwork.

“In general in veterinary medicine, equipment is designed for people but they adapt (it) for animals and use in a vet clinic,” she said. “Then I have to take it and adapt it for the field.”

In winter, Oakley carries coolers to insulate from the cold and keep batteries alive and warm, and keeps most of the equipment swaddled in blankets when she’s not using it, she said.

The downside to Oakley’s growing popularity from the show, which began filming in 2013, is that she’s not always available to treat pets in Haines, despite new equipment and improved capability.

Oakley said that filming often takes her on the road and away from Haines, where she’d rather be settled.

“The traveling sounds kind of fun and exciting, but I’m telling you, I’m so sick of it,” she said. “People are like ‘that’s so exciting’ and I’m like ‘I just want to go home!’”

However, she said, “It’s because of the show that I’m able to be here. I appreciate that people are patient with me in terms of availability.” Oakley adds that she also tries to squeeze in clients who don’t want to be on camera, “which is totally understandable and respected.”

When Alborough and Nala walked out the doors and off set on Friday, supervising producer Eric Stalzer took his cue. Speaking into a headset, he told camera crew to pack everything up before lunch at Sarah J’s. “Remember,” he said, “We’re going to the Yukon and we won’t be back until Monday.”

In February, Oakley is traveling to Sri Lanka for the third time to teach a wildlife capture course and help treat elephants, sun bears and leopards.