‘We are slammed’: Veterinarian clinics, animal hospitals busier during pandemic

National News

A dog looks on as a veterinarian technician gives a canine influenza immunization in Los Gatos, California. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo.– With more people getting pets during the coronavirus pandemic, veterinarians across the country have been swamped.

At County Animal Hospital in Manchester, Missouri, most appointments are curbside drop-offs, which are more time-consuming, and it’s harder to get appointments.

“We’ve been seeing a lot of new clients. It just seems like it never calms down,” said front desk supervisor Ashley Sands. “It has been extremely crazy, more so than before COVID hit. Since everybody is home now seems like they’re getting puppies and kittens.”

The hospital says it fields over a hundred calls a day.

“Oh my gosh, we are slammed, double books,” said Dr. Michael Vitucci. “We have seven to eight drop-offs each day, we have four vets working full time.”

The New York Times reported last month that much of the increase in vet care appears to be for wellness visits and vaccinations. Conversely, human primary care spending at the time was estimated to have dropped by $15 billion during the pandemic.

“We’re probably seeing 25 percent more new pets than what we would normally. It feels busier, and we’re seeing increased revenue,” Dr. Margot Vahrenwald, a veterinarian in Denver, told the Times.

Though there is a monetary benefit to the uptick, there is also a mental toll.

“Veterinary medicine has the highest suicide rate of all professions. We have compassion fatigue,” Vitucci said. “It’s been extremely busy and overwhelming, and we kind of just have to take it day-by-day.”

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