Veterinarian shortage: Debate grows over proposed solutions to nationwide vet scarcity

Jessica Chiu is one of the growing numbers of pet owners who adopted a pet during the pandemic.

“I have always grown up loving dogs, never had a dog, I wanted a dog,” said Chiu.

Chius dream came true while working from home full time. It was more difficult to find Twila as a veterinarian in San Francisco.

“In the end, I had to find a veterinarian in Oakland,” said Chiu.

ABC7 News first reported to you about the nationwide veterinarian shortage earlier this month. Now advocates of change are speaking out.

Mark Cushing is the founder and CEO of the Animal Policy Group and the author of Pet Nation.

“We are in a crisis phase because of the impending and ongoing veterinary shortages, but COVID has turned it to steroids,” said Cushing.

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Cushing is a proponent of telemedicine for pets.

The California Veterinary Medical Association, or CVMA, tells ABC7 News that it supports veterinary telemedicine, but a vet-client-patient relationship cannot be established over the phone or any other electronic means.

This is where Cushing’s opinion is divided. He believes that new pet owners or those without a veterinarian should be able to use telemedicine to get started and get basic advice.

“The problem of access to health care is acute for people who don’t have a veterinarian,” said Cushing.

Dr. Karl Jandrey is Associate Dean of Admissions and Student Programs at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

“If this veterinary patient-client relationship doesn’t exist, I don’t think telemedicine can work,” said Jandrey.

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Dr. Jandrey also disagrees with Cushing’s two other proposals to unclog the system, increase the class size of veterinary schools, and give veterinarians more responsibility.

“It would take a whole new school, a whole new accreditation, and a whole new idea of ​​the veterinary profession,” Jandrey said.

It is these differences of opinion that may have prevented the veterinary population from growing at the same pace as pet ownership.

“What a good problem for a job, there is a demand for what we do, we just have to have enough of ourselves to take care of the needs,” said Cushing.

In the meantime, pets and the people they love are waiting for a solution that can’t come soon enough.

“You just don’t sleep if you don’t know what’s going on with your puppy,” said Chiu.

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