Bay Area veterinarian offices see increased demand during pandemic


CONTRA COSTA, Calif. (KRON) – The wait time to see a veterinarian is a bit longer these days. 

The COVID-19 effect is one reason. However, trying to schedule an appointment with the vet may be a problem long after the pandemic.

If the wait time to see your local veterinarian seems a lot longer than usual, it is not your imagination, there are several reasons. 

“We know that we had more people bringing pets into their households during the pandemic,” Contra Costa Animal Spokesperson Steve Burdo said.

More pets mean increased demand for animal health services during the pandemic.

“It was generally a little bit of a wait. So, now if you’re looking to get a spay or neuter appointment, you’re looking at anywhere from three to six months in some cases even longer depending on where you go,” Burdo said.

Also, prolonging the wait time to see a vet is an impact COVID is having on staffing levels at pet clinics, says the president of the San Francisco SPCA Dr. Jennifer Scarlett.

“Every day is different because you don’t know who is going to be quarantined or sick. When you work short-staffed for long periods of time guess what happens? People start to burn out at even at a higher rate,” Dr. Scarlett said.

This leads to the overarching reason you have to wait so long to schedule an appointment with veterinarians. There are just not enough of them.

“It’s not just whether people can make an appointment at their local vet, it’s just that there is a huge shortage of vets in this country and that there so many people who cannot afford veterinary care,” Oakland Animal Services Director Ann Dunn said. 

Knowing that there is a long wait period, the best advice is to plan your pet’s wellness care visits far in advance. 

“The other thing is if you are worried that your animal might have an emergency, we strongly calling ahead seeing if you can get a tele-triage service to discern whether or not you need to go sit in the emergency line or something that can be treated through an urgent care appointment or even treated at home,” Dr. Scarlett said.

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