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The Great Veterinary Shortage of 2022. How Does it Affect You and Your Pet?

Story by Scottie McGowan, Powered by Rescue A Golden of Arizona

CVID-19 wreaked havoc on human lives throughout the world.  Life, as we knew it, found a new norm by changing and improvising everyday life, some to our dismay.  The impact on the already struggling veterinary profession is profound. Studies predict that by 2030, 75 million pets will be without access to care.  What does this mean for you and your pet?

Veterinarian and vet tech numbers were steadily declining, with some clinics refusing new patients for several years before 2020. When COVID-19 confined people to home, pet adoptions increased while the number of veterinarians nationwide decreased, resulting in a shortage of 7,000 veterinarians. The 3,200 graduates from veterinary medicine schools a year are insufficient to replace the demand for care.

In 2020, Arizona had 1,430 full-time veterinarians, with 58% of Arizona households owning pets, 43% of which are dogs. Arizona’s population was 6,392,017. Two years later, these numbers have increased dramatically.

The Pandemic forced veterinary clinics to change their operations, causing a significant decrease in income. Precautions like curbside appointments slowed everything down.
Increased supply costs, shipping delays, and a further loss of staff levied a high emotional price on veterinarians.

The number one reason veterinarians leave the profession since COVID19 is the constant verbal abuse by stressed and angry pet owners for things out of their control. It’s difficult to explain what is wrong with an animal while being yelled at by the owner.

The suicide rate is high for veterinarians due to the demands of practice, such as long work hours, work overload, practice management responsibilities, ever-increasing educational debt-to-income ratio, and a poor work-life balance.

What does this mean for you and your pet?

  • Difficulty finding a vet accepting new patients
  • Two or more months wait for appointments
  • No immediate appointments for sick or injured pets
  • Long waits at pet emergency hospitals
  • Higher vet bills

Arizona is Taking Proactive Steps

There is no quick fix, but Nationwide, some universities are launching new degree programs.  The University of Arizona College of Veterinary Medicine became the first public institution to offer veterinary medical degrees in the fall of 2020.

Arizona passed SB1271. The bill is enacted and funded as part of next year’s state budget.

  • 58 new veterinarians will come to work in Arizona by the end of 2023
  • Each of them will spend at least two years working at a public shelter or in agricultural practice in a rural area over the next four years.

Arizona Veterinary Loan Assistance Program Requirements

  • Provides student loan reimbursement of up to $100,000 to new veterinarians who obtain a veterinary degree after January 1, 2023.
  • Work in Arizona for at least four years.
  • As part of that four-year agreement, vets must work at least two years at a municipal, county, or nonprofit shelter like A.H.S. or in an agricultural practice designated by the U.S.D.A. as having a shortage.

Protect Your Pets with Preventive Care

To minimize veterinarian appointments and save money, you can reduce the need for urgent or emergency care.

  • Plan routine appointments far enough in advance
  • Keep immunizations up to date
  • Test for Heartworm annually, give prevention medication
  • Prevent tick and flea-borne illnesses with prevention medication
  • Feed high-grade food
  • Control weight and provide regular exercise
  • Annual exam; semiannual for seniors over eight years old
  • Identify alternative resources near you
  • Take a deep breath, and say thank you to your veterinarian

Alternative Resources for Care:

Mobile vets: Search the internet for mobile vets near you
Telehealth: www.vetster.com
Vet school hospital: pets are treated by students supervised by licensed veterinarians

Midwestern University Animal Health Institute Companion Animal Clinic in Glendale: 623-806-7387   www.mwuanimalhealth.com

Rescue A Golden of Arizona 2023 Calendars are now available
www.golden-retriever.org/calendar-order-form

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