Another veterinarian talks about challenges of past year and a half


IMAGE DISTRIBUTED FOR THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES – 46 dogs and 11 other animals were rescued from a suspected Warm Springs, Arkansas puppy mill. The Humane Society of the United States and other area organizations assisted the Randolph County Sheriff’s office in the rescue of mostly Great Pyrenees dogs. Many of the dogs were found outdoors, without any protection from the freezing cold, while others were living on piles of feces and urine inside the home. Some were suffering so severely they needed immediate medical care. Others were emaciated and so matted they couldn’t move. All of the dogs were removed from the property and thoroughly examined by a team of veterinarians. They received any needed immediate medical treatment at the Humane Society of Saline County. In this image, two dogs wait to be rescued. (Lance Murphey/AP Images for The Humane Society of the United States)

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BALLSTON SPA, N.Y. (NEWS10)- A veterinarian based in Ballston Spa has stepped forward to talk about the challenges her clinic has faced since early 2020. Another veterinary hospital in Troy brought the plight of some veterinary clinics to light in a Facebook post last Thursday.

Initially, Dr. Stephanie Todd said she thought clients were simply catching up with routine appointments. But, a year later she said it’s been non-stop busy for her and her staff.

Dr. Todd, the owner of Harmony Veterinary Clinic, said she and her staff thought once the pandemic subsided business would calm down. Like many anomalies that have happened since early 2020, Dr. Todd said in 35 years of practice she has not seen anything akin to what’s been occurring.

“I’m not sure we fully understand what’s happened,” she said. “We’re not sure that it has anything to do with pet ownership.”

The lengthy Facebook post from Brunswick Veterinary Clinic asked for their clients to be understanding regarding long wait times for appointments, calls back, and medication refills. “WE ARE DROWNING,” it said in the post.

The clinic asked for patience from its clients and discussed the many issues it has been contending with including high stress, caregiver fatigue, long hours, and staffing shortages. It also talked about having to contend with unhappy clients and being unable to leave worry at the office at the end of the day.

“We work through lunch breaks almost daily, stay hours after closing, call owners on our days off for patient updates, and miss countless hours of family time because this job is NOT just a job -it’s a way of life. We can’t go home and turn off the worry that your pet still isn’t eating, or his cough isn’t improving,” it said in the post.

Dr. Todd said she’s read Brunswick Veterinary Clinic’s Facebook post and she agrees with everything in it when she spoke to NEWS10 on Friday.

She and her staff thought that clients were getting caught up with routine visits after the practice closed to only emergency services at the very beginning of the COVID pandemic. However, business didn’t let up and Harmony Veterinary stopped accepting new patients at the end of 2020. They just started accepting a limited number of new patients beginning July 1.

According to the American Pet Products Association (APPA) between 2-18% of people who responded to a survey got a new pet because of COVID. It goes against the idea that there were significant increases in pet ownership during the pandemic.

Dr. Todd said she did see existing clients bring in new pets but it didn’t totally account for the change in business. Additionally, instead of waiting to get sick or injured pet’s medical care or scheduling appointments for preventative care, people were taking action quicker, something positive that has come out of the COVID pandemic, said Dr. Todd.

It could be that pet owners were more in tune with their animals’ health because they were spending more time with them, based on the APPA report. Time at home during the pandemic helped 64% of pet owners feel more bonded with their pets and 73% said spending time with their pets helped ease stress.

Despite being the busiest Dr. Todd has been in more than three decades, she said it’s a trend she hopes continues because waiting for treatment has the potential to complicate treatments and the overall wellbeing of pets. Staying up to date on preventative care can also help catch potential health issues.

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