SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM)--Patients are experiencing long wait times at hospitals across the country and that delay seems to have trickled down to veterinary offices as well. Western Mass News spoke with a local vet to find out what's behind the issue.
A few months ago, Richard Casey noticed his dog DeeDee had a bad cough, so he decided to take her to the vet. But after driving to Deerfield and being told there was a five-hour wait, he decided to turn around and go home.
"We ended up leaving. We never got it figured out. We did it on our own and we researched," said Casey.
Luckily, DeeDee's cough went away. But Casey told Western Mass News he wonders what the result would have been if her sickness had been more serious.
"It would be tragic. You wouldn't know what to do," said Casey.
After hearing about similar experiences from other pet owners, we reached out to a local veterinary clinic to get some answers.
Dr. Sherry Himmelstein is a veterinarian at Spruce Hill Veterinary Clinic in Springfield.
She said her office has always been extremely busy and the pandemic had only made things worse, creating a backlog of patients.
"There has been an increase in demand since COVID-19 due to a lot of factors...Our shelters emptied out, there were lots and lots of pet adoptions and new pet owners who are very committed to their pets."
Dr. Himmelstein told Western Mass News many people were looking for quarantine companions and adopted animals, leaving local vets swamped with new patients.
This surge in new clients has forced many veterinarian offices to only accept existing ones.
"Unfortunately, open slots often fill up and we find ourselves tripled booked and working through lunch," said Dr. Himmelstein.
New pet owners now have to drive long distances or wait for months to get care. Appointments aren't the only thing that there seems to be a lack of.
"There's also been a shortage of veterinarians to fill those positions. Currently, there are about five job openings for every available veterinarian," said Dr. Himmelstein.