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Veterinary hospitals swamped during pandemic, booking appointments months out

Coronavirus

SCOTTSVILLE, N.Y. (WROC) — Veterinary hospitals have been swamped during the pandemic, some having to book out appointments months in advance. Vets at Riverside Veterinary Hospital said with people staying home with their pets during the pandemic, they started noticing smaller issues they may not have picked up on before. This is causing them to come into the vet more often.

Dr. Kirsten Mueller is the co-owner of Riverside. She said when COVID first hit, they were doing curbside service which backed up appointments.

“Everything took longer so it just felt like we were seeing more or if it was a factor of that people were home more with their pets and picking up on more problems or people were stressed and worried and putting that on their pets as well,” said Dr. Mueller. “There’s more puppy and kitten appointments, people are home more and have cancelled vacations and such so thinking it’s a good time to be home with a new puppy or kitten.”

She said during the summer they were booking appointments two or three months out. Things have improved, now it’s more like two weeks.

“It’s still busier than we’ve been. I think we’re still playing catch up a little bit the other thing is it’s been harder to get in with specialists too so we’re having to manage more cases longer term which takes a little bit more time.”

Dr. Mueller said they just hired two new people and staff members are working extra hard to keep up. She said some staff members have left during COVID due to stress.

“Other owners I know who have ads out for new vets are having trouble hiring new vets just finding good, qualified new vets coming out of school so people are sometimes looking for years to find a new vet.”

She said for people having trouble getting appointments quickly, if you think your pet’s issue is urgent make that clear on the phone. She said they allow drop-off appointments in these cases and it helps to not overload the emergency hospital.

She also said they were using telemedicine a lot during the pandemic and still use it when appropriate.

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