COVID-19 Pandemic Leaves Veterinarians Overwhelmed After Pet Adoption Surge
In some locations, new client appointments have skyrocketed 200%, and the hospitals are seeing 60 pets a day.
Early on, pandemic lockdowns brought on a wave of pet adoptions from people looking to be a little less lonely inside. Fast-forward 18 months, and that same surge is now affecting veterinarians.
Take, for instance, California's Newport Mesa Animal Hospital, where the staff is overwhelmed caring for pets.
"I have never seen a surge like this. I've been in this industry since 2002," Eric Irwin, a Newport Mesa Animal Hospital administrator, reveals.
"This morning, within 60 minutes of opening, I announced to my staff we are at 125 percent capacity. No more today."
New client appointments have skyrocketed 200%, and the hospital is seeing 60 pets a day. About a half dozen of them come in for surgery. There are also animals who can't be fit in, which is far from ordinary.
"When that happens, we have to refer them out to a neighboring veterinary hospital which historically you wouldn't have sent them to a competitor," Irwin adds. "We're sharing patient-load together."
As a result, this is exhausting employees who juggle long, difficult hours. The industry reports 80 percent of vet professionals are burned out.
"We've increased staffing levels to the heaviest they've been in 38 years since we've been open," Irwin notes. "We've had an open position for 18 months. I can't find staff to meet the demand."
For anyone who doesn't want to be stuck in this position, plan for your pet's next vet appointment at least a month ahead, if possible.
Also, thank the health care heroes who are helping furry family members.
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