According to one national survey, more than 11 million pets went into new homes during the pandemic.
While this is great news, it’s led to veterinarian offices around the country being overwhelmed by new patients while dealing with a staffing shortage. In some cases ... hospitals are even having to turn pets away.
This is Charlie. He’s here to see Dr. Mark Will.
Charlie is having a routine examination done by Dr. Will at Glove Cities Veterinary Hospital. Dr. Will has been here for 13 years, 30 years total as a veterinarian, making sure animals like Charlie are staying healthy.
“Maybe a quarter of our day are urgent things, things that need to be seen today, not tomorrow,” Dr. will said.
For most of the pandemic, it’s been curbside services here. In June, Dr. Will says patient visits inside the animal hospital resumed. However, getting a routine appointment right now will take three to four weeks.
Across the state and country, veterinary hospitals are all facing this backlog.
As president of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society, Dr. Will says several factors are contributing to this - more people getting pets during the pandemic, as well as individuals investing more in their animals.
“They can’t spend their dollars going somewhere, vacation and what not, they start spending their resources on their pets for pet care,” he said.
In addition, Dr. Will says staffing shortages, which was already underway before the pandemic, is now creating the perfect storm.
At his hospital, he says they’re doing okay but still in need of another doctor, technician, and assistants.
“It’s been coming for over a decade now. There’s been a veterinarian shortage but it has really come ahead during the pandemic,” he said.
For now, he’s recommending people to plan and call ahead as early as possible. He’s also asking them to please be kind and patient with the staff as they work through these challenges.
“I think every practice is trying to get people in, trying to triage what’s more urgent than other things, and hopefully we can get it all done and get through this together,” he said.
Vets say the best advice is to plan ahead and book visits for routine appointments at least a month out. They also say there are telehealth options now for pet owners.