Veterinary Medicine in a COVID World

by Dr. Sanjay Jain

This past year has been a trial for us all. We have had to isolate from our friends, coworkers, and our aged family members. The imposed isolation of the virus led us to seek out the company of non-human company by adopting shelter animals. This has increased both demand for veterinary services and the time it takes to get an appointment.

The problem is the number of veterinarians available to fill the demand was already diminished before the pandemic. According to a lecture held in San Diego in December 2019, the unemployment rate of veterinarians was half of the national level. Add the pandemic, and the situation left the remaining staff even more stressed.

To keep the veterinary staff safer, we have had to resort to curbside service. Please understand we WANT to have the face-to-face contact with owners, but if the support staff or veterinarian gets infected, the practice would need to close temporarily to allow heavy disinfection and recovery. My practice has had to close twice in 2020 due to staff getting infected. And if we are re-exposed and remain healthy, we don’t want to infect someone else.

The Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association (WVMA) has been trying to get veterinarians on the list as essential workers so we can get the vaccine. The Department of Human Services (DHS) has turned down the livestock vets twice and just recently allowed teachers in early March. But the companion/small animal vets have been turned down three times, and they won’t be allowed until all people of any age are permitted.

Therefore, I’m asking clients to PLEASE be patient! We want you in the rooms with your fur-babies, but a lot of clinics were not built for the social distancing. If you really feel that your pet needs you present, and you are willing to pay the higher costs, there are a few mobile practices you can call for an appointment. Thank you for your understanding!