“You’re the 5th clinic I’ve called today, they’re all booked. Do you have any openings to see my dog today?”
This is not an exaggeration and we’re getting numerous phone calls like this per day.
Pre COVID-19 there was already a shortage of veterinarians. We know this because for every new grad there are about 3 job openings.
Post COVID-19, is where we saw the huge influx. People have been home with their pets so they’re noticing a lot more things that weren’t noticed before. There’s also been a surge of puppies and kittens being adopted! Many people used quarantined time as the perfect time to get their newest family members because they were home to train them.
What’s the current situation? Our schedule is currently booked about 2-3 weeks in advance and we’re not the only ones. This is a pattern amongst the entire veterinary industry. We have implemented protocols in place to help alleviate this. If the on-call list has helped you, then you’ve already first-hand experienced some of our amazing protocols at work! Here’s what else you can do to help your pet during this surge of craziness:
- Do not wait until the last minute. If your pet is experiencing something that is unusual, call and make an appt. DO NOT WAIT TO SEE IF IT RESOLVES ON ITS OWN. All you’re doing is creating an emergency situation. We’ve definitely heard the words “This is an emergency; my dog has had an ear infection for 3 weeks and he is miserable.” Had that person scheduled an appt 3 weeks ago though, their dog would be much more likely to have had an appt scheduled. You CAN always cancel your appt 24 hours before the appt should the issue resolve on its own.
- Schedule your pet’s preventative care (wellness and vaccines) well in advance. When the dentistry industry saw this surge, they started pre-booking dental cleanings 6 months in advance. We have no problem with you doing that too! If you know that your pet’s vaccines are due in May, June, July, or whenever, schedule that visit now.
- Do not wait until the last minute to get vaccinations updated. We’ve seen quite a few clients ignore our vaccine reminders until they need to board or groom their pets. We can’t double book our schedule for preventative care visits when we have so many sick patients to take care of. Please remember that bordetella takes about 2 weeks to develop full immunity. If you know you are traveling this year or taking your pet to the groomer, schedule those vaccines well in advance so that you don’t run into those situations. It should also be noted that an animal emergency room will not see your pets for preventative care vaccines.
- Make sure your pet has been examined once a year by his or her regular veterinarian. Veterinarians are still doctoring which means they still have to follow laws and regulations. One of the biggest ones is that they have to examine their patients at least once a year in order to provide veterinary advice or prescribe any medications. If your pet is sick, and can’t get in right away, we legally cannot give you advice unless our doctors have examined your pet within the last 12 months. It’s super important that you don’t let that wellness visit lapse over a year. You can check when your pet’s last wellness visit was by using our PetDesk app or just send us a quick text to confirm!
- Please utilize our on-call system. What is it? Essentially, if you need your pet to be seen sooner, you can be put on our waitlist. We’ve seen an increased number of cancellations and no-shows during the pandemic, which we get. It could also be because many people are calling around and making appointments, then go to the earliest one so they either cancel or no show to the other appointments. We reserve specific times every day, for each doctor, for “same day bookings” so there’s a good chance we can get you in sooner but in order to help as many animals as possible, we need to stay organized to do so. We do triage this list, which means that patients with more severe symptoms (vomiting, diarrhea, anorexia, seizures) get called first, then the less severe symptoms (masses, ears, skin, etc.), then those preventative care visits.
- Do NOT be one of those clients that just doesn’t show up for his/her pet’s vet visit. If you need to cancel for ANY reason, we completely understand. Give us a call or send us a text to let us know as soon as you know you can’t make it. This allows us to be able to offer this slot to another sick patient that may need to be seen sooner. I should also note that clients who frequently miss their appointments without actually canceling will be required to leave a non-refundable deposit for the cost of the exam.
- Know where the nearest animal emergency clinic is located. We’re not an emergency clinic and we’re not equipped to handle every single emergency. We know, it’s more expensive to go to the ER but please know that if we recommend going to the ER it’s because we don’t have the room to see your pet. That’s not because “we want our lunch breaks” or “to leave on time” or because “we don’t care about animals” or any of those reasons. It’s because the more we “squeeze in” or try to add to our plates, the more our level of care drops. It’s because we DO care that we have to refer to the ER. The nearest local emergency rooms are Premier Vet Group, Blue Pearl, and Veterinary Specialty Center.
We absolutely appreciate your patience and understanding during this entire craziness. It really feels like veterinary medicine is moving in the same direction as human medicine in a lot of ways and this is just one of them. If our protocols have helped you get your pet seen sooner rather than later, please let us know. We love to hear feedback and we are constantly working on improving our services.
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Call or email us today to schedule an appointment for your furry friend! Our client care reps are happy to assist you!