PUEBLO — Hilltop Pet Clinic in Pueblo West is one of the few clinics now accepting new patients.
However, the majority of others are still "overwhelmed" with demand, said Brian Crook, Owner and Medical Director at Hilltop.
“It’s a crazy time right now. We have a lot of people that have adopted animals through COVID.. Going to be home... And they started noting health issues with their animals and started bringing them in.”
Hilltop says they usually see roughly 60 animals per day. In Crook's 35 years as a veterinarian, he says he has never seen quite the dilemma that clinics everywhere are now.
"The lists are going way back to like the beginning of the list, so you can’t get in… and if you have an emergency? Well I guess you better have like one-thousand dollars to get into after-hours cause you’re not going to get in," said Delilah Armijo.
Armijo recently had to take one of her three dogs to the emergency vet, and says the upfront charge was $600.00 before any medical care was given.
"There isn’t anywhere for anyone in Pueblo to go without a waiting list,” she says.
Crook says that on top of the increased number of pet owners due to COVID-19, pet clinics are facing the same staff shortage as other industries.
"It's hard to find people, it's hard to find veterinarians, it's hard to find skilled veterinarian technicians."
According to a study done in 2020 by Merck Animal Health and the American Veterinary Medical Association, veterinarians are 2.7xs more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.
“As I’ve always told young veterinarians if you ever get used to a euthanasia, you need to retire. But it’s something we have to deal with and I think a lot of people have a hard time with that.”
In the meantime, Crook says to "be patient" if you are a frustrated vet owner. He believes Hilltop's climax of the demand is on the downturn.
"We are trying It’s not that we don’t want to see you, we really want to take care of your pet, but we don’t want to cut corners. We want to make sure that if you’re coming in, your pet is being treated with the highest level of medicine.”
If you are in need of an emergency vet, click here.