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COVID-19 pet boom has veterinarians backlogged, burned out

Katarzyna Ferry, Wendy
Posted at 9:07 PM, May 13, 2021

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. (AP) — Veterinarians nationwide are dealing with a COVID-19 pet boom.

They are so backlogged they can't take new patients, even when extending hours and hiring additional staff.

The American Pet Products Association estimates roughly 12.6 million households acquired a new pet last year after the pandemic began.

Meanwhile, fewer people have given up their pets, and more people working from home are finding ailments in their animals that might otherwise go untreated.

Banfield Pet Hospital, one of the largest national providers of preventive veterinary medicine, had approximately half a million more pet visits in 2020 than in 2019. And its telehealth service more than doubled in volume from March through the end of last year.

Thrive, another veterinary hospital primary care group, with 110 facilities across the U.S., reported a 20% increase in demand during the pandemic. Both repeated a common refrain — as humans spent more time with their pets, they were more in tune with their ailments — big and small.

Many vets have complained of burnout and compassion fatigue.

Veterinary schools can't produce graduates quickly enough, with jobs for veterinarians and vet techs projected to grow faster than other occupations for years to come.