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Veterinarians work through appointment backlog as more become pet owners during pandemic

Posted at 5:39 PM, May 22, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-23 02:33:01-04

Veterinary hospitals and clinics have experienced an influx of appointments since the start of the pandemic.

San Luis Obispo County Veterinarians said they’re having to backlog appointments because there has been an increase of new pet owners during the pandemic.

At Animal Care Clinic in San Luis Obispo, they’re seeing a 50% increase in pet owners coming in for appointments as people pay more attention to the health of their animals while working form home.

“What we’re seeing even more than an increased number of visits is clients wanting to do more for their pets. They’re wanting to go further with diagnostics and treatment,” Medical Director of Animal Care Clinic Dr. Bonnie Markoff said.

“They’re more in tune with their animals so they’re going to be more likely to bring them in,” Bear Valley Animal Clinic Dr. Chelsea Dauer said.

However, the increase in demand is also in part due to an influx of new pet ownership.

“People are home and able to be around their pets and this is a good chance for people to adopt or have an animal." Dr. Dauer added. “I think even the adoption agencies, they’re having a hard time keeping up with the amount of pets that are in demand.”

According to the American Pet Products Association, approximately 12.6 million U.S. households got a new pet last year after the pandemic was declared in March 2020.

For animals that need same-day care, veterinarian clinics set aside time slots for those situations, but that’s often still not enough.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have the capacity to take on more clients than we already are. We work at 100% capacity everyday,” Dr. Markoff said.

Many veterinarian clinics shifted to curbside appointments, where vet support nurses bring the animals inside and owners wait in their cars until the appointment is complete.

“Sometimes we’re even doing exams on dogs outside in the parking lot and a lot of dogs really prefer that and they’re happier to not come into the building,” Dr. Markoff said.

San Luis Obispo County veterinarians said they’ll be able to bring in more patients and owners inside the facilities in the coming weeks as covid restrictions alleviate. For now, they’re trying to save space for urgent care appointments, so pet owners can expect to wait two weeks before they can get in.

Both Animal Care Clinic and Bear Valley Animal Clinic added if you have an annual appointment coming up for your pet, it’s a good idea to call a month in advance to set that up.