NEVADA— People who adopted pets during the shutdown or worked from home and observed problems with their pets may have realized that obtaining an appointment with a veterinarian can take weeks.
It is estimated that the United States will require almost 41,000 extra veterinarians over the next eight years.
“During COVID times things became very different for us as a profession,” said Dr. Dave Mason, Chief of Staff at the Las Vegas Veterinary Specialty Center.
During the COVID -19 pandemic, the need for specialized services increased in line with the number of pets adopted. Staffing issues in veterinary medicine have been a problem for years, but the pandemic exacerbated the situation.
Due to staffing shortages, hospitals, clinics, and veterinary offices all around the valley have shortened their hours and turned away animals. This crisis has touched all levels of care, from general practice to specialists, but animal emergency rooms have been hit the hardest.
“There are people verbally abused, threatened with physical abuse because their animal can’t be seen fast enough or not regarded as a priority,” Dr. Mason explained.
Owners like Briana Moger understand that seeing their trusted veterinarian may now take some time.
“I have a young puppy due for spay and I’m scheduling two to three months out just to get into surgery for a basic spay,” Moger explained.
Dr. Susie Costa, owner of Spencer Springs Animal Hospital, says her practice has grown by 30%, but she has had difficulty finding and maintaining doctors.
“You walk into a clinic and you’re expected to see at least 20-25 patients a day, that can be overwhelming. You also have walk-ins, you have emergencies, ” Dr. Costa explained.
Doctors like Costa compete with corporate hospitals, which may pay more or even offer sign-on bonuses to new graduates.
“We have some that wanna work three days a week and that’s all they can give us and that’s fine,” Dr. Costa explained.
While more Americans are having pets, the number of workers entering the pet industry is not keeping up.
According to Mars Veterinary Health, over 41,000 extra veterinarians would be required by 2030 to address the needs of companion animal healthcare.
“We are all trying and we all want to help you, there’s only so much we can do,” Dr. Mason said.
People may begin to consider telehealth for animals as a short-term solution. As a long-term solution, Nevada should consider recruiting more veterinarian students and opening veterinary colleges.
There is also a mental health toll, with veterinarians having the highest suicide rate of any industry, according to the CDC.
Credits: 8 News Now
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