October 20, 2021

Many veterinary hospitals in our area, including Brook-Falls, are booking out several weeks for routine care. Emergency veterinary hospital wait times can be up to 4-5 hours or more (that’s a long time waiting in the car with your pet as many are still curbside). Specialist visits, like cardiology, are booking out 4-6 months for new patients. Somedays the local ERs and the veterinary school in Madison are reaching capacity and referring cases to other ERs and also to Brook-Falls. The local ERs have sent letters to our practice asking us to see more of our own emergencies during the day. This is making your local veterinarian very busy and often late for their regularly scheduled appointments

Why is this happening?

Increase in number of patients at veterinary hospitals

  • Influx of new pets during the pandemic
  • People at home have time to spend with animals and get a new pet
  • Owners have more disposable income (everything else closed during the pandemic!)
  • Catch up care for owners who did not come to their veterinarian during lock downs -Increased owner awareness of problems in their pets from spending more time with them

Veterinarians 25% less efficient according to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) due to pandemic factors

  • Extra sanitizing procedures
  • Curbside visits very inefficient
  • most ERs still curbside
  • Workplace illness protocols have changed, and employees out sick more now
  • need to stay home until covid tests results with every cold
  • school and daycare closings due to covid cases
  • very challenging to staff veterinary hospitals for full capacity

Veterinarian labor shortage

  • More baby boomer veterinarians are retiring than are being replaced by new graduates
  • Baby boomers worked 50-60 hours/week after graduating. New graduates are working 30-40 hours to gain a work/life balance

What can you do as a pet owner to provide the best care for your pet?

BE PROACTIVE

  • As veterinary facilities reach capacity, realize we cannot always provide same day service
  • Schedule routine care and exams well in advance- it maybe several weeks!
  • Don’t wait until the day before you leave on vacation to get your dog updated on vaccines required for boarding
  • Schedule new pet exam appointments before you pick up your pet from the shelter, store or breeder
  • If your pet is sick, don’t wait several days to see if they will get better on their own. Call your veterinarian at the first sign of illness so they can possibly offer things to try at home before you can bring your pet in for an exam.

BE PATIENT

  • You may need to wait while your veterinarian deals with emergencies, these will throw off their schedule all day.
  • Accept “alternative appointments” You may be asked to drop off your pet and your veterinarian will see them in between other scheduled appointments as soon as they can. At our hospital during these “flex” appointments your pet is triaged by our technician staff and monitored and cared for until they can be examined.
  • It may take your veterinarian several days to get back to you for nonemergent phone calls and emails.

MOST IMPORTANTLY- PLEASE BE KIND

  • Several times a month a team member is in tears after dealing with unkind owners. In general, it seems covid has made people less patient and more demanding. How many times have you seen a notice on a restaurant menu asking you to be kind to the servers?
  • It does not matter how much money you have spent at that veterinary hospital or how long your pet has been a patient there
  • It's easy to say- its just one more patient- why can’t you squeeze me in today? Your veterinary staff has already done that 10 times today. You may be referred to the ER for care if your veterinary hospital is at capacity.

What has not changed during Covid?

Your veterinary team’s dedication to the health of your pet. They are not there for the money. They work in this field because they love your pet as much as you do! Your veterinary team is overworked and just as stressed out by covid as you are, and they are doing the best they can to provide the best care possible for your pet!