LAS VEGAS (FOX5) – Several veterinary centers in the Las Vegas Valley have been forced to adjust the way they deal with curbside service or have closed completely, resulting in an influx of patients to other clinics.
A demand for more pet care and fewer providers is part of a nationwide shortage.
Veterinarian specializing in animals has two day clinics in Henderson and an emergency hospital on Charleston Boulevard.
Ronnie Lee, director of business development, said there were extended wait times throughout the valley.
“Vegas, Henderson, Valley has about 205 veterinary surgeries, night and Sunday, or about 2 or 3 that provide emergency services,” Lee said.
He said of the estimated 2 million people in the valley, an estimated 49% are pet owners, leaving a million animals in the care of 205 centers.
Dr Joe Owens, co-owner of Animal Focus-Vet Horizon, said he noticed an influx of patients when some clinics closed. They are currently paving the way to ensure the safety of their staff.
“We have been essential workers, we haven’t had a break, we can’t do it at home,” Dr Owens said.
Retention is difficult in the field. Dr Owens said the mental and emotional toll is not something vets and other veterinary staff are prepared for in medical school. Dr Owens used to speak quarterly at different vet schools before the pandemic to raise this reality.
“I was in the same position as them. But what they don’t tell you, you know they teach you to practice medicine, they teach you to read blood tests, to read x-rays, to fix an animal, but they don’t teach you – you can only do what the pet owner lets you do, ”said Dr Owens.
In addition to the challenges of supply and demand, mental health is a test on the ground.
“The stress runs deep, people don’t understand what we’re going through, we’re humans too and not only are we humans who care, I’m not a mechanic, I’m a vet. It was eight years of school, ”said Dr Owens.
According to the Veterinary Hope Foundation, veterinarians are about three times more likely than the general population to kill themselves.
“It’s very common and you know I know a few colleagues who have been there, who have been there, we have lost them,” Dr Owens said.
He said having thick skin is important.
“You see a lot of stuff, a lot of abuse, a lot of neglect, and it gets worse with overtime,” Dr. Owens said. Her mantra is that you don’t care more than the owner of the animal.
The biggest challenge according to Dr. Owens is the misconception that a rabies vaccine is a seal of approval for pet health care and that nothing else needs to be done. He stresses the importance of being an animal advocate and said reassurance is vital from the start.
He hopes pet parents will remember being patient with their local vets and staff.
“You don’t agree with an estimate or a treatment plan or whatever we say, just be respectful. Okay, because I am also a human being, ”said Dr Owens.