Pandemic affects animal clinics in new ways

Pandemic affects animal clinics in new ways
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Pet owners make adjustments to care routines

Published


As COVID-19 has affected nearly every aspect of humanity, it has also modified the approach to pet health. Veterinary offices in Midland have not seen any new health problems in animals, but rather changes as how to safely care for them.

Dr. David White with Animal Medical Clinic in Midland said with more people working from home, they have been noticing more issues with their pets. This has caused an influx of both regular and new clients that has overwhelmed local offices.

“Most clinics in the area are so busy we’re not taking on new clients,” Dr. White said.

Once the state allowed non-essential dental, medical and veterinary services to resume in May, Animal Medical Clinic began conducting curbside services. Pet owners call the office once they arrive in the parking lot and a staff member will take the animal inside, conferring with the owner at their car if necessary. Once the examination is complete, checkout is conducted over the phone or payment is done inside. If a pet is to be euthanized, most owners opt to have it done in the front yard; visitors are limited to two people if it’s done in the clinic.



The new set-up has been difficult for some owners to adjust to. Barbara Wallace, of Midland, recently took her 13-year-old chihuahua to Animal Medical Center when the dog began showing signs of illness. She made an appointment at the clinic, which she has been attending for the past 40 years, and was asked to wait outside as her dog was checked in.


“They made me stand outside. I had a mask on,” Wallace said.


Pet adoptions remain steady in Midland

While the trend in veterinarian care has increased substantially during the pandemic, the number of adoptions in the area has remained somewhat steady. According to Beth Wellman, shelter director, the Humane Society of Midland County saw a decrease in the number of animals they took in and adopted out. The shelter placed 91 dogs and 57 cats in March, 37 dogs and 13 cats in April, 80 dogs and 38 cats in May, 76 dogs and 80 cats in June and 163 dogs and 126 cats in July.

What has changed is the shelter’s vet is now treating pets belonging to members of the public since the local veterinarian offices are inundated with animals.

“Talking with the clinics, I know they’re overwhelmed,” Wellman said. “COVID-19 has changed how they do everything.”


Since restrictions are being slowly lifted, pet owners are slowly returning to work in their offices, leaving pets at home. Wellman recommends owners take small steps to make sure their animals are comfortable being alone and setting up new patterns before they transition into a new routine.

“Getting your pet used to being alone or crated is important,” she said. “Set them up for success.”

White encourages owners to find a regular vet sooner rather than later so owners don’t have to hop around to different offices. He also asks that owners look after their pets’ mental health.

“Make sure that they’re not getting destructive while you’re gone. It might take some time for them to adjust,” White said.

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