East Texas veterinaries say they need more workers

Local News

TYLER, Texas (KETK) – East Texans may want to start booking their pet’s veterinary appointments weeks in advance. Many East Texas vets are seeing a doctor shortage, causing longer waits to get in.

Patients are seeing anywhere from a few days to a month’s wait before they can get into their vets.

Starnes Animal Clinic along with Spence and White Veterinary Hospital said they both have had issues finding employees. Dr. Gary Spence said many new veterinarians straight out of college are looking for short hours and higher pay.

“Now we are behind at our emergency clinic. The owners, there are 10 of us that owns it, we are having to take up the slack right now because we can’t get anyone permanent to come in,” said Dr. Gary Spence.

Dr. Seth Shirey said he is glad that pet owners are being more proactive in caring for their pets, but they have had to extend their business hours to 7 days a week to keep up with the demand. He says COVID-19 has had a hand in the increase, and many shelters and rescues saw a high demand for adoptions during the pandemic.

“It’s kind of funny with COVID you would think we would have decreased just because everyone is trying to stay inside, but I think that COVID really with people staying home, people started noticing things on their pets more,” said Dr. Seth Shirey.

If your animal needs a routine visit, it is best to try and schedule their appointment weeks in advance. You can not predict emergencies, so doctors say not to give up if you get turned away.

“I’m going to be extending my hours coming up on Sundays just so I can see my overload that’s coming in on Saturdays and that’s something in 30 years I haven’t had to do,” said Dr. Spence.

Many clinics have been stretched to their limits, meaning vet technicians are more important than ever. Veterinarians have less time between appointments so more techs are having to step up. They are doing x-rays and drawing blood so doctors can see more patients.

“Having plenty of technicians staffed, so that when we have to take x-rays or to draw blood or things like that, we have them very well trained so that while they’re doing those things, we can address the needs of another patient at that time,” said Dr. Shirey. 

Vet hospitals are actively searching for employees. They are posting jobs online, visiting job fairs, and even going to the college themselves.

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