By Jessica Freni
We are in the midst of a crisis. Veterinary services remain strained and in disarray. It is a frustrating situation from all angles, client/ breeder and veterinary staff alike.
Nothing is more stressful than an impending litter and fear for accessibility of veterinary services, especially reproductive services, especially in emergencies. More and more veterinary offices, once locally owned, are being scooped up and bought out by the corporate structures. This changes staff, procedural and availability (and often at the cost of close interpersonal relationships between breeder/veterinarians). Many clinics are refusing any c- sections that are not scheduled and an alarming amount of emergency clinics are mandating spay at time of c- sections (call your local emergency veterinarians before they’re needed and verify their policies). Breeder friendly veterinarians and knowledgeable, accessible reproductive services are becoming frighteningly scarce. Fewer and fewer veterinarians have the skills or willingness to do services for breeders like cropping and docking.
Cost of services and medications have surged. The situation is precarious and not only worrying many breeders, but forcing some to quit or seriously re- evaluate if they will be able to continue breeding as their veterinarians retire, close up, go corporate or are just expensive/unavailable.
Veterinary clinics are over-strained. The effects of an influx of pets during the pandemic surge are still being felt. Routine care or wellness appointments are still booking months out and emergency room waits are still in many areas 6-8 hours or more (if they are not deferring emergencies to other hospitals). Support staff and veterinarians are often mistreated, overworked and understaffed with high turnover, lack of available hiring and suffering mental health across the industry.
Is there a solution? Will the situation improve? How can we as individuals support our veterinary resources, including their support staff and mental health? How as a community can we bridge the seemingly widening gap between breeders/veterinarians? I’m not sure if or what the solution is, but we need to have a serious dialog.