Veterinarians, a rare commodity | VIVA MÉDIA Skip to main content

It is increasingly difficult to get a veterinarian appointment for your pet. All over the Suroît, pet owners should be prepared to wait a few weeks, sometimes even nearly 3 months.

For some time now, animal shelters have been raided. It seems that adopting a pet has been the favorite choice of Quebecers in order to break loneliness. But, when speaking of pets, inevitably it means visits to the vet. This is exactly where the problem lies. Already with a shortage of manpower for several years, veterinarians are now overwhelmed.

At the Hôpital Vétérinaire des Trois-Lacs, located in Vaudreuil-Dorion, the receptionist explains that all appointments are scheduled six weeks in advance. “Today we have seven patients on the waiting list in case of a cancellation, said the woman who was contacted on January 28th. We are not able to make emergency appointments.”

Same story at the Clinique Vétérinaire du Vieux-Dorion. The next appointments are available at the end of March.

According to Michel Pépin, spokesperson for the Association des médecins vétérinaires du Québec, several factors can explain why veterinarians are overwhelmed. Among them, it is impossible to ignore the shortage of labor that is affecting the field.

“Every year, there are veterinarians who retire, says Mr. Pépin, who is himself a veterinarian. However, there are approximately 95 new veterinarians that have graduated. Of that number, I would say about 60 will practice with small animals. However, all new veterinarians have multiple job openings but if they all decide to stay in the big cities then there aren’t many left for the regions.”

$ 80,000 per year

Sometimes people mistakenly believe that the veterinary profession is excessively lucrative. The average annual salary for a veterinarian is $ 80,000. “It’s a lot of schooling for the salary, said the spokesperson for the association. Even when a veterinarian buys a clinic, don’t assume that wealth is guaranteed. The operating costs are staggering.”

If the veterinary profession is no longer attractive as in the past, it is the same for animal technicians. “It’s a job that doesn’t pay well, Mr. Pépin confirms. The dropout rate after 5 years is almost 100%. Things really need to change.”

Pandemic and restrictions

COVID-19 is hitting veterinarians hard. As in the health sector, several clinics have to have restrictions. Whether it is to have your animal vaccinated or for scaling, several services are postponed. “The clinics cannot accommodate as many patients as they used to. At this time, between each appointment, all equipment must be disinfected. It is exceedingly long. In addition, the number of calls for consultations has increased. Several people have adopted animals in order to break the isolation. So these are people who call for a consultation. Clinics sometimes have to refer clients to emergency centers. As a result, they too are overwhelmed.”

Do not buy animals

Michel Pépin recommends that people who wish to buy an animal wait. “As soon as people can get back to a normal life, there will be a big wave of abandonments”, he says. “Buying an animal needs to be planned. This should not be done on a whim. Money must be set aside for the care of the animal. Taking proper care of a dog costs $ 1,500 to $ 2,000 a year.”

Mr. Pépin admits that some people will still buy an animal. This is why he insists that established breeders already have reservations into 2022. “Unfortunately, there are people buying animals all over the place. There are even people who buy a dog for $ 500 and advertise it on Facebook or Kijiji for $ 1000. I urge people to be careful.”

Steve Sauvé


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