Veterinary clinics struggle with staffing shortages

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CAPITAL REGION, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Many industries are struggling with staffing shortages, and veterinary clinics are no different.

These days the staff at Central Veterinary Hospital in Albany is feeling a bit overwhelmed.

Veterinarian Dr. Michel Hardaker says, much like other industries, vet clinics are also short staffed, resulting in delayed appointments.

“It can be anywhere I’d say from three weeks to three months,” said Hardaker.

And once you do get an appointment, Hardaker say the visit can take a while.

“And many of the things we are seeing are far more serious and urgent than a simple vaccine update.”

And Dr. Hardaker is not alone. Many other clinics are asking for patience from pet owners as they grapple with shortages.

“I think it is a perfect storm of a lot of things coming together all at once,” said Dr. Mark Will.

Will is a veterinarian based in Gloversville, and he’s also the president of the New York State Veterinary Medical Society. He says the nationwide shortage of veterinarians and technicians began more than a decade ago. He believes the biggest issue is financial.

“Our profession is lower paid than other professions, both medically and for technicians. They can go onto a different field and probably make more than in this profession,” said Dr. Will.

He says Covid-19 made things worse when clinics were temporarily shut down, delaying well visits.

But the problem was unintentionally compounded with a surge in pandemic-era pet purchases and adoptions, says Ashley Jeffrey Bouck, CEO of Mohawk Hudson Humane Society.

“We have noticed that it’s been harder and harder for people who have been adopting either through here or elsewhere to get their appointments within a couple of weeks after adopting.”

Dr. Hardaker officers some advice to pet owners:

  • Anticipate your pets needs. For example, don’t wait until your cat is down to his last pill to call for a prescription refill.
  • Assess an emergency. Google symptoms or contact a medical triage call center. They can be helpful, but do charge for the service.
  • Be patient.

“We have to be very patient with our pet clients, and they have to be the same with what we are all trying to accomplish,” said Hardaker.

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