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Veterinarians reporting increase in demand for service as pet adoptions sky rocket during pandemic

"There's been so many new puppies, kittens and adult pets that have been adopted," says Patti Christie. "That decreases the amount of appointment slots available."

MINNEAPOLIS — As pet adoptions sky rocketed in 2020, veterinarians across the country are now feeling the impact, including vets in Minnesota.

"We have seen close to a four-fold increase in demand for our services," says Patti Christie, a Practice Manager with Minnehaha Animal Hospital.

Christie says the clinic is still limited in staffing and space - due to prior COVID-19 restrictions, along with an influx in new pets in need of care.

"There's been so many new puppies, kittens and even adult, pets that have been adopted," she says. "That decreases the amount of appointment slots available."

But it's not just happening here. Veterinary practices across the country are experiencing backlog.

"We're booking out three or four weeks and it's kind of a shock," says Christie.

Approximately 12.6 million U.S. households got a new pet last year after the pandemic was declared in March 2020, according to a study by the American Pet Products Association.

"We have had to say no to new clients a few different times," Christie says.

While veterinarians are working long hours to meet the demand, Christie has advice for new pet owners searching for a clinic to care for their pets.

"Even if they're two months away from being old enough to be spayed or neutered, go ahead and book your surgery," she says.

The American Veterinary Medical Association issued a statement in response to the backlog saying,

"Many companion animal veterinarians across the country saw spikes in demand over the past year, often the result of new patients, a backlog of visits that needed to be rescheduled due to the pandemic, and lower productivity due to COVID-related changes in care, such as curbside drop off and increased cleanings between visits. The national data we have, however, shows that veterinary visits were actually relatively flat in 2020 compared to 2019.

Certainly some clinics are currently seeing large increases in demand, but in general these are most likely temporary surges and not the result of too few veterinarians available to care for pets.

If your pets need care, they should be able to receive it. Don’t hesitate to reach out to your veterinarian if you have questions or concerns. If they can’t see you at the clinic, there may be other options, including telemedicine for established patients."

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