More pets, fewer vets: veterinary clinics face backlog

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) – Local vets recommend that pet owners book health checkups for their pets well in advance as they face a backlog of appointments.

The industry, like many others, faces the continuing impacts of COVID-19. Some offices say their calendars are booked for next month. They say before the pandemic they say they would be able to have an animal for an appointment within days of receiving a call from the animal’s owner.

“As of around June 2020, veterinary practice has been relentless – and what I mean by that is that the number of pets owners have had during the pandemic has increased dramatically,” Dr Richard said. Siegle with the Cascade Animal Hospital.

Siegle is helping many of their clients adopt during the pandemic, and people who already owned pets have had the opportunity to spend more time with them and may have noticed their health more. Together, these two factors have resulted in a higher number of nominations.

This problem is compounded by the labor shortage, which has made it difficult to keep up with the surge in demand.

“Because the demand for our services has been so high, working overtime, working over lunch has become commonplace. (There is) staff exhaustion. Many staff are leaving the profession or reducing their hours, ”said Siegle.

Veterinary clinics added that the talent pool to replace people when they leave is shrinking.

The Grand Rapids Veterinary Clinic on 3 Mile Road and Fuller Avenue says he currently has about three full-time vets who see 30 to 50 animals a day. Normally he would have five or more.

“The staff were certainly something difficult to follow. Obtaining new doctors has been surprisingly difficult over the past year and a half, ”said office manager Alex Deruiter.

Deruiter said that due to the heavy workload, some animal care must be delayed or referred to another facility.

“We try to integrate everyone as best we can. There are certainly cases where urgent care is needed and we must refer them to BluPearl (Pet Hospital in Grand Rapids) or emergency animal hospitals, ”said Deruiter.

Doctors say the best thing people can do right now is prepare. If pet owners know their pet will need an exam or an appointment for a vaccine in the next few months, book it now. If you think your pet needs to be seen sooner, contact your veterinarian or go to an emergency care center.

” Do not be too long. If the animal is not feeling well, the longer you delay, the sicker the animal will be and the more care it will take to heal it, ”said Siegle.

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