IRONDEQUOIT, N.Y. (WROC) — There are growing concerns in the local pet care industry after it was announced the only emergency veterinary hospital in our region, VSES, would be cutting its hours.
The parent company for VSES, Thrive Pet Health Care, cited the changes over staffing shortages seen locally and nationwide.
Earlier this week, Thrive Pet Health Care announced Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Services (VSES) in Brighton would be open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.
In early 2022, the hospital stopped serving patients overnight due to a lack of doctors’ availability on site.
One owner of a local dog boarding business says he is already seeing the effects.
Mark Forrest Patrick has been in the pet care industry for a decade, taking care of dogs day of and on an extended basis at Tuxedo’s K9 Training Camp in Irondequoit.
“I see the ripple effect as more pressure being put on our individual clinics that are already understaffed. Something has to break. We’ve had a huge influx of dogs since the pandemic, and now we’re cutting services in our veterinary industry. That’s concerning to me,” said Forrest Patrick.
The nearest ER vet facilities to Rochester are located in Buffalo and Syracuse.
For Forrest Patrick, clients of his are already reporting being turned away over reaching capacity.
He shares concern for elderly pet owners, who may not be able to drive their pets far in an emergency, and also speaks to the pet care industry as a whole.
“The compassion fatigue and the burnout is really intense. We see it in the training community as well. What we have to do is give the vets and vet techs some balance,” said Forrest Patrick, “Something needs to change, and we as a community need to be the voice for our pets. We’ve got to step up and have to request change because this is only going to get worse. It’s not going to get better.”
A spokesperson for Thrive Pet Health Care did not return our request for comment Friday, but did share the following statement earlier this week:
“We recognize the need for emergency veterinary services to support pets in the Rochester community. Starting August 5, VSES welcomes patients Monday through Sunday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. The new hours are based on the doctors’ availability on-site. The team will continue to accept drop-offs for scheduled specialty & surgery appointments every day from 6 to 8 a.m.
Unfortunately, we no longer have emergency medical coverage to support cases after operating hours. It means that VSES is no longer able to hospitalize pets overnight. Backfilling those positions will take time due to the nationwide shortage of veterinary staff, which we are also experiencing in the Rochester area.
We’ll continue referring patients we don’t have the capacity to serve from 10 p.m. to 8 a.m. to other 24/7 ER veterinary locations. The nearest 24/7 hospitals that provide emergency care are in Buffalo and Syracuse. Also, Pittsford Animal Hospital offers Urgent Care on an appointment basis.”