Vets and vet techs in short supply as pet care needs rise amid pandemic – Pasadena Star News
We are about to have a huge void that will be difficult to fill at Pasadena Humane. Later this month, our Chief Veterinarian, Dr. Matthew Toscano, his wife and two adorable children will leave sunny SoCal to relocate to Florida to be closer to their loved ones.
I can’t imagine how difficult it has been for Dr. Mat and his wife to care for two babies without the support of family nearby for the past two years. Their son was born in 2019, a few months before the start of the pandemic, and a baby sister arrived in 2021.
While we certainly understand and respect the need to put family first – and would expect no less from Dr Mat – he will be sorely missed. He’s a consummate professional, a loving husband, a devoted father, and a great guy in every way. His leadership and expertise in shelter medicine has increased our team’s ability to help animals most in need with advanced medical care and to treat many highly contagious diseases previously considered incurable in a shelter.
Over the past three years at Pasadena Humane, Dr. Mat has built a team of five full-time veterinarians, along with the licensed veterinary technicians to support them. Given a national shortage of veterinary professionals, this has been an incredible feat.
If you have a pet, you may have noticed how difficult it is to access veterinary care. There simply aren’t enough veterinarians and veterinary technicians to meet the growing demand created as the number of pets continues to rise. The shortage of professionals, coupled with social distancing protocols and supply chain issues during the pandemic, has led to a real care crisis.
I had problems taking my dog Sueshi to her vet when she was sick. I was offered appointments weeks in advance, which does not help for urgent needs. I even had problems getting her into urgent care facilities.
Unfortunately, I know of a person who was turned away by many veterinary hospitals when their beloved pet suddenly went into seizures. The dog tragically died in his car because hospitals simply did not have the capacity to care for one more animal.
At Pasadena Humane, we were fortunate to have Dr. Mat leading our medical team. He has successfully recruited talented vets from as far away as the East Coast. We have also developed a scholarship program to train veterinary technicians, similar to registered nurses, within our organization.
Since we launched the RVT Fellowship Program with the support of generous donors, two members of the Pasadena Humane team have completed their studies, passed the rigorous exam, and become Certified Veterinary Technicians. Four other team members have started their training and we look forward to their graduations in the coming months.
The veterinary profession is tough, which is one of the reasons for the shortage. And I would say the hardest place to be a veterinarian is in an animal shelter. We are lucky to have dedicated professionals like Dr. Mat who dedicate their lives to helping animals most in need.
Dr Mat, we wish you and your family all the best. We will miss you, your expertise and your compassion for the animals and people of our community.
Oh, and by the way, could you please help recruit your replacement before you leave? We can use all the help we can get to find another vet.
Dia DuVernet is President and CEO of Pasadena Humane. pasadenahumane.org