Increase in adoptions causes longer waits for pet care

Animal hospitals and veterinarians are seeing an influx of new patients while catching up on older patients
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 4:00 PM CDT
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WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) - According to the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, 23 million American households acquired a pet during the COVID-19 pandemic.

With an influx of new pets and pet owners, veterinarians and animal hospitals are becoming increasingly more busy, trying to find time for all their patients, old and new alike.

Dr. Jamie Gifford is a veterinarian and owner of Wausau Animal Hospital. She says the business began back at the start of the pandemic.

“We stayed open through the entire pandemic,” said Dr, Gifford. “However, we had periods of time where we were doing what’s called curbside where the patients came in but the owners of the patients did not come in.”

These curbside appointments were necessary to remain open during the heat of the pandemic, but they also created longer appointments through more phone conversations and less in-person communication.

“With the appointments taking a longer time, we had to book out further than we normally do,” said Dr. Giddord. “We couldn’t get as many appointments done in a day.”

One owner per pet is allowed in the hospital at a time now, but they’re still catching up on previous appointments.

“There are so many new patients, as well as existing patients,” said Dr. Gifford. “It takes us time to get through things.”

The staff at Wausau Animal Hospital is seeing an average of 50-60 patients per day. An average wait time to be seen is four to six weeks.

Dr. Gifford says waiting to schedule an appointment could see you waiting a while.

“If you know you’re going to be getting a new pet, schedule your appointment before you even have the pet in your house,” said Dr. Gifford. “We are booking up so far so when you do get them home, you can get them in pretty quick.”

Another piece of advice from Dr. Gifford is to schedule an appointment before the pet gets sick. Not only is this a good preemptive measure, but it also gets the pet’s foot in the door to becoming an established patient.

Dr. Gifford also points to general staff shortages contributing to the long waits as well. With as busy as she and her staff are, she asks those waiting to be patient and understanding as they work hard to treat the animals with the best care possible.

“We know it can be really frustrating and it can be really hard if your pet is sick and we do understand,” said Dr. Gifford. “Just please understand we’re doing the best we can too. We’re trying to get everyone in we can. Kind words can go a long way.”

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