Okanagan Vet Shortage Creates Appointment Backlog – Okanagan

A current shortage of veterinarians in the Okanagan is forcing veterinary clinics to change the way they offer their services. With too few veterinarians to go around, pet patients in many cases have to wait months for an appointment.

For five years, this region has faced a shortage of veterinarians. The long hours, demand and small number of veterinary students have all played a role in the current shortage. The pandemic has also had an impact on the functioning of veterinary clinics and hospitals.

“The pandemic definitely made it worse because everyone got their pandemic puppy or kitten, which added to the workload,” said Dr. Marco Veenis of the Okanagan Veterinary Hospital.

“In addition, the pandemic measures have also taken a toll on veterinarians. Regularly you will lose staff because they have to self isolate because they are stuck with covid.

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Carrington Animal Hospital in West Kelowna recently lost its full-time veterinarian, leaving only one part-time. They had to modify their daily services and were forced to send pets elsewhere.

“We would all like to help them, but we just can’t. We have no resources on days when we don’t have a vet. And when we have the vet, he’s so full and busy and we definitely try to leave those spaces open for sick animals, but they fill up too quickly, so yeah, it’s difficult,” said Holly Oaks, head of the practice of the Carrington Animal. Hospital.

Oaks says angry calls from pet owners are becoming more frequent. They tell customers they’re doing their best to accommodate, but they don’t want that to become an excuse.

“It sounds like that when you say that all the time. Ultimately, if we had the choice to have another vet here right now, we would,” Oaks said.

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Fewer vets means fewer appointments. Clinics don’t have many appointments available and some places are already booking clients in October.

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“A lot of clinics now have waiting lists for regular appointments, non-urgent appointments can sometimes take a few weeks before people can get in,” Veenis said.

“I know of clinics that have actually stopped accepting new clients and that of course causes a lot of problems for people who are desperate for help with their pets.”

Veenis says BC veterinarians are working with the provincial government to create more educational opportunities. If they can increase the number of places available for students, more vets will enter the workforce in the next few years.

© 2022 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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