“With their current clients, they’re already so late, then 15 people adopt animals and they’re like ‘Oh crud I have to find a vet,’ said Laura Berchem, executive director of the Humane Society of Sheboygan County. “Everyone they’re calling right now is going to say it’s going to be six to eight weeks before I can see you.”
Berchem said her team was fortunate to have in-house veterinary services, but she knows that it is more difficult for their adoptive clients to take care of their pets.
According to veterinary and shelter staff, increasing demand is only half the equation. The industry is also in the grip of a familiar disease: the shortage of labor.
“Our industry is facing the same staff shortages, fatigue and burnout from all the emotions we all feel every day,” said Amanda Reitz of Happily Ever After Animal Sanctuary near Green Bay.
And like other industries facing labor shortages right now, these issues predate the pandemic.
The American Veterinary Medical Association says veterinarians have one of the highest annual turnover rates among the medical professions, just behind registered nurses. The highest turnover rate is in fact among veterinary technicians.
In an ideal staffing model, Forcey said a vet should have four support staff. She has one. And his entire clinic shares a receptionist. They hired two new doctors, but cannot find people to fill their support positions, such as veterinary technicians and receptionists.