An increase in animal adoptions leads to a shortage of veterinarians and an increase in emergency visits.
Kai Hsieh, from Dorchester, (LR 🙂 Tucker, Bogey and Beau walks in South Boston, Massachusetts November 30, 2015. Jessica Rinaldi / Globe
As people spend more time at home, animal adoptions increased during the pandemic. Veterinary clinics are now feeling the effects of all these new pets, reporting longer waiting times and an increase in emergency visits.
Dr. Kiko Bracker, director of emergency and critical care at MSPCA’s Angell Animal Medical Center in Boston, told Boston.com that the clinic has seen a significant increase in appointment requests, with booking times of weeks and months and longer waiting times on emergency services.
He believes these effects can be attributed in part to less experienced pet owners and in part to the increase in pets, especially younger animals.
“The new pet owner will see their pet differently, they don’t have the experience of saying, ‘It’s okay, I’ll let this go’, where after a year or two of pet ownership you will learn” what is no big deal and what is “, said Bracker. “Younger animals will have more problems than adults, you can see that with humans and you can also see that with dogs and cats. Whether you need vaccinations, heartworm shots, or put yourself at risk … once you get a little older, some of these adolescent problems will be fixed. “
The MSPCA reported a 40 percent increase in emergency visits to the Angell Animal Medical Center and forecast 10,000 new cases this year, WBZ reported. Unfortunately, there really is no solution, said Bracker.
“There are no great, short-term, real solutions to this; I think we will have longer waiting times for a while, ”he said. “Some of the likely solutions are long-term: it will be four to eight years before more vets are created.”
The President of the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), Dr. Douglas Kratt told Boston.com that more research is needed to understand what is driving the rising demand for veterinary care pandemic, increased disposable income, and owners spending more time with pets at home.
“As the number of veterinary visits increases in 2021, it’s important to note that we don’t yet know if these increases are permanent,” he said. “Many COVID restrictions continue to affect the productivity of the clinics, which also leads to additional burdens for the staff. Without knowing if these terms and conditions will continue during the pandemic recovery, clinics need to be careful in making lasting business decisions regarding workers and people. “
AVMA recommends clinics to review practice productivity and ways to increase efficiency, e.g.
Bracker stated that there is no such thing as a silver bullet and that change takes time.
“In the short term, we have unsatisfactory methods of improving this,” he said. “At the customer level, it’s about informing them, imparting the knowledge to them through other methods … things like online resources, poison control numbers, advice from your vet who may know you better than the emergency services.”
In the end, he said, there isn’t a simple button to house all of the new animals, but he assured pet owners that all vets want to provide good veterinary care.
“We’re getting more efficient, new veterinary emergency and emergency facilities are opening up to deal with this, and it’s a bit of a slow road,” he said. “I would like to say that all veterinary practices are committed to solving the problem of improving animals in a way that is satisfactory for the owners. Nobody wants to close and say we don’t have time … that’s why it’s such an uncomfortable position for us, because it’s just not in our nature, we want to help and do things better. “
MSPCA spokesman Rob Halpin told Boston.com that MSPCA placed 2,634 animals in homes last year, nearly 1,000 more than the 1,734 adopted in 2020.
“The acceptance is still high,” he said. “The pandemic and the stay-at-home orders sparked a surge in adoptable animals that continues to this day and shows no signs of subsiding.”
Fortunately, Halpin said that MSPCA’s adoption centers in Boston, Methuen, and Centerville are not seeing any surge in surrenders, and the MSPCA is not expecting one.
An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that AVMA is working to create a job that is the veterinary equivalent of a nurse.
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