Over the past couple of years, whenever I’ve needed to look up an emergency or specialist vet hospital, I’ve noticed a steady increase in negative reviews by fellow pet owners angry about wait times. Many pet owners somehow interpret being made to wait as vets “not caring” about their patients when the opposite is true.
I’ve also noticed that staff at some vet hospitals now begin phone conversations with “thank you for your patience” and find it sad how grateful they are when they figure out you won’t be yelling at them.
One Sunday morning last fall, we woke up to my sister’s dog suffering vestibular symptoms. While there was a long wait at the ER due to more urgent cases, the emergency vet on duty was thorough and generous with her time when our turn came. After examining him, she spent a half hour on the phone with us discussing her findings, recommendations for the next few days, follow-up with our primary vet, and medications which she said we could purchase for less OTC, but we opted to get from her to save time.
She also thanked us multiple times for driving down to see her, made sure we didn’t have any more questions before hanging up, and sent an email to the radiologist explaining the situation and her recommendation to postpone our radiation appointment for the next day.
I came away from this experience with a greater appreciation for emergency vets working in the pandemic puppy era. We sat in that parking garage for 6-7 hours that day, the line of pets and pet parents never letting up. Despite the pressure of having to triage and treat patients and deal with stressed out pet parents all day, the doctor was nothing by courteous, professional, and patient when she spoke to us at 7:30pm.
Yes, we had waited all day, but we were extremely lucky that our dog was able to be seen at all on that Sunday with the shortage of vets and staff and number of pets needing care.
This visual story attempts to explain the situation in the hopes that pet parents will be more understanding about the wait times at their next vet visit. Reasons covered include:
- the pandemic-induced increase in pet adoptions,
- vet shortage,
- support staff shortage,
- overflows from other hospitals,
- client conversations, and
- pandemic safety protocols.
This story also includes statistics from two newer studies: The 2021 Norvet Study that found 27% of veterinarians in Norway felt life hadn’t been worth living over the previous year, and a 2020 study of vets in Germany that found 32% to have increased risk for suicide.
Preview it below or click here view it in full screen.
The following flyers contain some explanations for longer wait times at the vet these days and may be a good way to introduce the subject to pet parents. Please tag @VetsArePeopleToo or (@VetsArePeople2 on Twitter) on social media to help spread the word about this project.
Reduce client frustration by thanking them for their patience and offering an explanation for wait times. More details in 3-Part Series: The veterinarian mental health crisis, causes & how you can help
A flyer providing pet owners an explanation for the wait time at vet hospitals/clinics. More details in 3-Part Series: The veterinarian mental health crisis, causes & how you can help