Vet clinics dealing with backup from increased pandemic demand

Vet clinics dealing with backup from increased pandemic demand

“There seemed to be a backup that we never really got ahead of,” a veterinarian in Bangor said.

BANGOR, Maine — The pandemic was a time when many people found themselves at home and in a position to adopt new pets. As the demand for veterinarian grew during the pandemic, veterinarian clinics are still dealing with staffing shortages and an influx of appointments.

Dr. Abby Arena, a veterinarian at Penobscot Veterinary Services, has been in the business since 2014. She said being a vet is always a busy job; however, as more people got new pets, an influx of appointments came with it.

“There seemed to be a backup that we never really got ahead of,” Arena said.

It’s the combination of staffing shortfalls and getting animals up for adoption vaccinated and sterilized.

Veterinarians are just a quarter of the equation — each vet also needs a support staff of three to four people in order to provide quality care, according to Arena. When those numbers aren’t in the office, it makes it tough to do the job.

“Sometimes we get something all worked up and ready to go for a surgery and we just don’t have enough people to be able to monitor it and support that surgery well,” Arena said.

Animal shelters across Maine are feeling the effects of the backlog as many animals need medical care prior to finding a forever home.

Some shelters, like the Bangor Humane Society, are full and can no longer take more animals due to the sheer amount they have waiting to get the necessary medical care before being available for adoption.

“It’s not that we don’t want to take your animals, we just don’t have the space for them,” Kathryn Ravenscraft, Bangor Humane Society’s director of development and communications, said. “It’s not that we don’t want to send your animals home, but we can’t until we check all the boxes.”

Ravenscraft said the shelter has seen an increase in animals’ length of stay due to the lack of access to veterinarian care.

The issue is posing a problem to new pet owners around Maine, too. Arena said her office is booking about a month-and-a-half out for a new client appointment.

“I really wish I could help more people and more pets and it has been challenging to do that,” Arena said.

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