Niskayuna Animal Hospital recently posted a Facebook post asking pet owners to be patient and understanding in the face of the deluge of demand facing the industry due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The last year and a half has been difficult for all of us,” the post read, explaining the understaffing in emergency clinics. “This has had a particularly hard impact on the veterinary community due to an overabundance of adoptions and a shortage of national staff.”
Another vet, the VCA Animal Health Center in Clifton Park, has also experienced an unprecedented level of backlog, according to Dr Geneviève Morse-Ozols.
“We have booked wellness appointments for at least a month,” said Dr. Morse-Ozols. “Sick appointments are booked for at least two weeks, if not longer, depending on what we have going on. “
Sterilization, sterilization and dental surgeries are reserved until January, “and I have never, never been booked near this in the past,” said Dr. Morse-Ozols.
The reasons have been well documented: that many people adopted pets during the pandemic. By some estimates, one in three people adopted pets during the pandemic.
In addition, many people spend more time at home and therefore more time with their pets.
“That kind of human-animal bond is stronger, so they want better care,” Dr. Morse-Ozols said. “They might notice things that hadn’t been noticed before, and maybe they especially want to do more of that preventative care that was recommended in the past.”
Dr Morse-Ozols said she suspected vets would be busy, if only to catch up with pet owners’ demands after the state exited lockdown mode during the onset of the pandemic.
As the pandemic receded, “wWe felt like we were going to be caught up and everything was going to be back to normal – and it just didn’t happen, ”she said. “If anything, it just gets worse and worse. So absolutely I don’t think it could have been expected.
The problem is compounded by labor shortages in the industry that span across from veterinarians to technicians and assistants.
Across the VCA hospital network, the organization has hired more than 5,400 hospital positions so far this year, from vets to technicians and other support roles – more people than it has hired. for similar positions in 2020. But, he still has hundreds of additional positions to fill.
In New York City, the VCA hospital network has hired more than 250 hospital positions so far this year. During 2020, she hired just over 200 people in New York state, the agency said.
In the greater Schenectady region, the VCA hospital network has three hospitals and around 30 job vacancies at the end of last week.
He asks anyone interested in a career in veterinary medicine to visit VCAcareers.com to positions such as customer service representatives that do not require extensive medical training.
Ideally, the Clifton Park Hospital would have five vets. But he has worked with four veterans and risks losing another next month, bringing it to three.
For this reason, the seven-day-a-week business will close on Sunday in November and cut back its evening hours a bit to deal with its shortage of doctors, said Dr Morse-Ozols, who would only confirm that she is working. more than 40 hours per week.
“It’s a profession of passion. We are here because we love animals and want to be able to take care of them. So really trying to fit in as much as possible throughout the day, every day, ”she said.
There are things that pet owners can do to ease the load on animal hospitals.
Dr. Morse-Ozols recommended that owners establish a relationship with a primary care veterinarian. This would reduce the number of new patients, as many facilities admit new pets.
Owners can also anticipate animal welfare needs and keep up to date with vaccinations.
Owners should also anticipate the financial needs of a sick animal.
“I think pet insurance is a very good thing that everyone should consider getting, or at least having emergency funds available for their needs.”
Across the VCA hospital network, he has seen more than 3.3 million animal patients this year as he tracks nearly the 4.1 million pets he saw last year.
In 2020, the VCA hospital network welcomed more new patients than the three previous years.
Contact Gazette reporter Brian Lee at 518-419-9766, [email protected] or @bleeschenectady on Twitter.
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