GRAND RAPIDS, me. – Veterinary clinics and clinics across the country are seeing a surge in business, which means customers have to wait weeks to make an appointment that can be dangerous in an emergency.
According to many West Michigan vets, the boom is due to a backlog of appointments pushed back at the start of the pandemic. More interestingly, though, this is largely due to the influx of new pets.
“It’s just not Michigan, it’s nationwide,” said Ryan Carpenter, a veterinarian at Family Friends Veterinarian Hospital in Grand Rapids. “Everyone in the veterinary world across the country is feeling the same impact as any veterinary clinic.
Carpenter says there are several factors that led to this boom, but one of the main drivers is a backlog of care that was classified as “not essential” and pushed aside at the beginning of the pandemic.
“It’s been an interesting year, with appointments going from stationary to appointments on the car side last year,” said Carpenter. “We started taking essential and non-essential actions as the state deems necessary in March, April, May and June of last year. Now we are only leading to a huge boom in veterinary medicine. It is difficult with that Demand to keep up. “
Another reason is that people are paying more attention to their animals when working from home.
There has also been a sharp increase in new pet ownership.
“A lot of people have had downtime. So in the past year they bought pets, dogs, cats, and other pets to comfort them. As a result, pet ownership has increased,” Carpenter said. “We had to de-escalate new customers. Unfortunately, we love seeing new customers and meeting new pets. But like many veterinary clinics, we have to somehow look after the customers we currently have. What new pet owners is tough because a lot of veterinary clinics.” switch to this model. “
According to Carpenter, patients at Family Friends Veterinarian Hospital can expect to wait weeks, sometimes even more than a month, for an appointment.
For animals that are sick and need to be looked after on the same day, the team provides more than a dozen appointments for these situations, but that is often not enough.
“It’s not uncommon for us to get a call and we have to send someone to an emergency clinic that also has exponential waiting. Some people wait eight to 12 hours in emergency hospitals,” Carpenter said.
The waiting time is just as long at the Cascade Animal Hospital.
“It was relentless,” said Richard Siegle, hospital director for the Cascade Hospital for Animals. “I’ve been a vet for over 40 years and I’ll say the past nine months have been probably the busiest ever.”
Siegle says so many people have acquired pets that animal shelters have very few pets available for adoption.
“In fact, many animal shelters across the country have very few pets available for adoption, there has been a tremendous increase. And because of that, there has been a backlog,” said Siegle.
In 2020, the Bissell Pet Foundation reported more than 8,000 more adoptions than in 2019.
And there is more than just veterinary care, snow groomers are also overwhelmed with appointments.
“We can only do so much if we’re trying to quote people, to squeeze people, there really is no room to squeeze anyone,” said Alli McDonough, owner of Fido & Stitch.
Ali McDonough, owner of Fido & Stitch, a grooming salon and pet store in Grand Rapids, says her grooming appointments are booked more than two months in advance.
“Some grooming salons have closed, likely due to the pandemic,” said McDonough. “We got a lot of referrals from these snow groomers that are closed. Plus, there aren’t a lot of snow groomers out there. They I know, especially with the pandemic, they can’t get the training. So we can’t find any snow groomers.”
There is also a shortage of support staff in the veterinary industry.
“It’s exhausting. Our staff, the nurses all over the country, are burned out, you know, we run so fast,” said Carpenter. “We’re really trying to make the owners happy. And when you can’t meet everyone’s needs, it’s difficult.”
Currently, veterinarians across the country are doing their best to urge their patient’s owners to plan ahead and not delay the call if they discover that something is wrong with your pet.
If the situation permits, consider a telemedicine visit for your furry friend as well.
“We also rely on telemedicine. Like many other veterinarians,” Carpenter said. “The bigger thing is that we as pet owners can’t wait until the last minute. So if your pet gets sick, think about that appointment and see if you can see them.”
It has been recommended by the American Veterinary Medical Association that veterinary clinics and hospitals adhere to the current model of car visits, and about 85% across the country are now doing so.
It takes longer, but protects employees and patients.
However, veterinarians assume that in-house care will be available again soon.
In the meantime, be sure to say thank you to your vet and the vets.
SEE MORE: West Michigan woman is switching careers to provide affordable veterinary care to animals
SEE MORE: Kansas widower faces setback in battle over deceased woman’s service dog