June 02, 2021 – 7:00 a.m.
Due to the unprecedented number of animals in need of care and a shortage of veterinarians, one veterinary clinic in Kelowna now offers only emergency services.
Jennifer Watt, a veterinarian and co-owner of Fairfield Animal Hospital, said the clinic was only offering emergency services as of this month and would close its day clinic.
It is the only animal hospital with a 24-hour emergency center in the Okanagan.
During the pandemic, pet owners are not allowed to enter the building, which has slowed down reception and appointments, Watt said.
“Along with the people at home, there has been an explosion of pets in the city. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but everyone has a dog or a cat now. People don’t travel, so they’re a lot more active with their pets here and we’re seeing a lot more sick animals, trauma, accidents, things like that, ”Watt said. “Our emergency practice has gone crazy.”
She couldn’t quantify the exact increase, but last summer they saw 25% revenue from 2019.
“This summer, it seems to be coming together (again),” she said.
Okanagan puppy sales and pet store supplies are soaring off shelves amid COVID-19. The owners also buy “top notch” veterinary care.
“They want the gold standard for their pets… they’re very well cared for,” Watt said.
The average pet owner in British Columbia will spend around $ 2,560 on their pet in 2021, according to Hellosafe.ca, a insurance data analysis company. Nationally, Canadians will spend $ 2,430, a 1.5% increase from 2020.
READ MORE: Okanagan puppy sales and pet store supplies rise amid pandemic
Another challenge for the clinic is finding vets to meet the demand. Watt said at one point they had 11 vets in the emergency department, but now only have seven.
“Because we’re so busy, other clinics don’t see their patients in a timely manner, so they are overflowing on us. So we’re getting busier and busier, and there’s a shortage of doctors in BC and across the province, so we’re really feeling it, ”she said. “We have to give up our daytime practice and send clients to other practices. we have in the group.
There are only a few veterinary schools in Canada. The Western College of Veterinary Medicine in Saskatchewan has about 80 places per year for veterinarians for its four-year subsidized program, with a number of places available for residents of British Columbia, Watt said. Alberta withdrew from the interprovincial agreement in 2017 to channel its $ 8 million contribution into a new University of Calgary veterinary school.
The BC SPCA has launched a pledge campaign asking the provincial government to fund 20 more places for BC students at the Western College of Veterinary Medicine.
A labor market study conducted by the BC Ministry of Advanced Education, Skills and Training in 2019 indicated that BC would run out of 100 vets per year for each of the following five years. , resulting in a shortage of 500 vets by 2024, according to the SPCA.
“Most of the (new vets) go to the coast, to the mainland and other places,” Watt said.
Recruitment is also difficult during the pandemic, as travel has been limited so vets may not be able to see the clinic and the city, she said.
Fairfield might consider reopening the daytime practice, but now all staff should focus on emergency care, Watt said.
Annual pet prescriptions will continue to be filled until the pet’s next annual exam at the center. Sales of pet food will also continue, but all routine appointments, vaccines, annual check-ups and surgeries will be directed to one of the other five clinics in central Okanagan, according to a statement on the clinic’s Facebook page.
To contact a reporter for this story, email Carli Berry or call 250-864-7494 or email the editor. You can also submit photos, videos, or news tips to the newsroom and enter a monthly raffle.
We appreciate your comments and opinions on our stories, but let’s play well. We will not censor or remove comments unless they contain irrelevant statements or links, unnecessary vulgarity, false facts, spam, or clearly false profiles. If you have any concerns about what you see in the comments, email the editor through the link above.
News from © iINFOnews, 2021