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Pet clinics across the country struggling with veterinarian shortage

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Posted at 6:08 PM, Nov 10, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-10 22:47:37-05

Another day, another shortage.

“There’s a massive shortage of veterinarians across the country, about 7,000 estimated vets that are missing in action,” said Neil Trent, Woods Humane Society CEO.

Woods Humane Society provides low-cost spay and neuter surgeries for pets at both their San Luis Obispo and Atascadero locations.

“It’s much more affordable than a private practice because we are strictly just a spay/neuter clinic,” said Janell Matthies, Woods Humane Society Veterinary Services Manager.

Meaning they don’t offer outpatient services or diagnostics — allowing them to keep costs low.

…but providing care at a low cost has its own set of challenges.

Attracting new veterinary grads to perform surgeries can be a struggle.

“They don’t necessarily think to come into an animal shelter facility. They’re looking for the corporate facility that will perhaps allow them to pay their tuition and their student loans back," said Trent.

Trent says another factor contributing to the shortage is vet schools not having the capacity to increase class sizes. Those issues combined with the shortage make hiring vets extremely difficult.

“We will take any veterinary skill that we can," said Trent.

Woods says by hiring additional vets they will be able to provide more services.

“The demand for affordable vet care is just exponential, especially all over California, so we would like to be able to offer those services to the community and having more staff, having more support staff as well as veterinarians we would be able to expand our services,” said Matthies.

Woods is actively recruiting vets and says they are hoping anyone with an interest in coming out of retirement will consider doing so in light of the shortage.

“Anybody that has a relation, that is retired, please let us know because there’s no question that we do need to be prepared. The shortage will impact us at some point,” said Trent.

Some community members have had trouble making appointments for their pets in San Luis Obispo.

“I have a dog who has cancer so it’s really hard to have access to a vet that is, I mean local is hard because I’m from Washington state, so it is hard to find a vet to take time with that,” said San Luis Obispo resident, Kaci Watkins.

“I had an emergency with him. He fell out of a 2 story window over the summer,” said San Luis Obispo resident, Kaya Brown.

Brown called the vet and was told they could not provide emergency care.

“So I had to drive him out to Atascadero, the pet emergency in Atascadero, and like wait for like an hour or two," said Brown.

…But others have been more fortunate.

“No, they go in for their annual checkups pretty regularly. I haven’t had any concerns or any impacts for my pet yet,” said San Luis Obispo resident, Gabriel Hinojosa.

If you or someone you know is a vet who is interested in working for woods you can call or email them or even stop by one of their locations in person.

Woods says they are always accepting donations and if you are interested in donating you can visit their website.