North Texas Veterinarians Overwhelmed With Business After Pandemic Adoption Surge

Around North Texas, practices like Paws and Claws in Plano are buried in appointments, with wait times skyrocketing.

Video Transcript

- Business is back. The workforce is not, though. It is starting to create cracks in the veterinarian practice world. They are slammed with appointments trying to manage all the pets adopted during the pandemic. Our Nicole Nielsen with an update on a very real problem.

- There are not enough beds to go around.

NICOLE NIELSEN: You probably heard about the animal adoption surge during the pandemic. You may have even adopted one yourself. It was great for shelters but has placed a strain somewhere else.

STACY ECKMAN: I think that a lot of our practices are overwhelmed right now.

NICOLE NIELSEN: Dr. Stacy Eckman, an expert from A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, says veterinarians are facing an industry-wide shortage.

STACY ECKMAN: We're all exhausted. I mean, not just us, but our staff as well.

NICOLE NIELSEN: Around North Texas, practices like Paws and Claws in Plano are buried in appointments, with wait times skyrocketing since the start of the pandemic.

- We've been, I'm going to say, like, doubly busy. We would be booked a day or two out. Now, us and other veterinarians are booked one to two weeks out.

NICOLE NIELSEN: They attribute the business to the increase in adoptions, as well as the time people have spent at home to notice things about their pets.

- This morning, for example, we had a dental cleaning. We have several more appointments-- an allergy consult, a cancer consult.

NICOLE NIELSEN: And that's not to mention burnout.

- We're down probably 30% on staffing.

NICOLE NIELSEN: Which is why Dr. Eckman says the career is in such high demand.

STACY ECKMAN: In three years, there's going to be a 33% higher demand for veterinarians than there are today. So in three short years, we're even going to be in a worse boat than we are right now.

NICOLE NIELSEN: According to a national pet owner's survey, about 67% of US households own a pet. Last year, those owners collectively spent about $31 billion on vet care. That number is expected to rise another billion this year--

STACY ECKMAN: It's a challenge, and it's a newer one.

NICOLE NIELSEN: --leaving it as a career to take advantage of.

STACY ECKMAN: If you love medicine, and you're compassionate, and you love science, this is the profession for you, and there's certainly a demand for it.

NICOLE NIELSEN: In Plano, Nicole Nielsen, CBS 11 News.

- So much staggering fallout from the last year and a half. Texas A&M currently, by the way, has the only College of Veterinary Medicine in the state. That's going to change next fall. Texas Tech University out in Lubbock, they're going to be opening their veterinary school and will welcome its inaugural class.