NORTH BROOKFIELD, Mass. - Second Chance Animal Services is prioritizing critical and emergency care services amid a national shortage of veterinarians.

Second Chance CEO Sheryl Blancato says it's estimated the national shortage is between 7,000 and 10,000 veterinarians between retirements or people leaving the profession. She says fortunately their hospitals are staffed near capacity and they are taking as many patients as possible with the overwhelming demand right now.

One step they've taken at their North Brookfield hospital is cutting back on their spay/neuter services to help the most critical patients.

"If those (critical patients) don't get taken care of, those animal will most likely die," Blancato said. "Spay/neuter, as important as it is and how much of a passion we have for it, it is an elective surgery we are pushing off a little bit so there's longer waits for that. And we try to have people hopefully understand that. That if it was your pet in critical care, you would want us to do that too."

Second Chance will be opening another hospital within the next couple of weeks, starting with three days a week until they have all staff hired there they need.