I opened my email this morning to a very disturbing letter from the emergency veterinary clinic that I use. The letter was addressed to their general clientele pleading for patience with the ongoing challenges of receiving patients due to COVID-19. The letter states “We are unfortunately seeing increasing levels of abuse of our team – shouts, threats, obscenities, etc.”
I think it’s safe to say that we all pretty darn sick of all the inconveniences to our daily routines that the virus has forced upon us; add to that the emotional distress of having a sick and suffering pet and I suppose it’s not all that surprising that people are pushed to their limit of patience.
At many veterinary clinics owners are still handing over their pets at the curb to the veterinary technicians and then waiting for the call on their cell phone from the vet as the examination is performed. This is a necessary precaution because exam rooms in vet offices are very small and safe distancing is impossible. There are typically at least three people in those rooms, the vet, the technician and the pet owner; obviously, it’s not a safe situation for any of them. Many offices are still working in teams in order to avoid losing their entire staff should there be an exposure.
It’s very typical to have long wait times at vet offices, especially those that handle emergency cases. But it’s extremely important that the veterinary team takes time with every animal because pets can’t relay their symptoms verbally. Animals can be very stoic, outward signs of pain or illness can be very subtle and require the exam be thorough and methodical. Not every animal is exactly cooperative with all that poking and prodding which further complicates things. On top of all that, as we sit in our cars waiting, the dollar signs start dancing through our heads; the cost of extensive vet care can be prohibitive and nobody that loves their pet wants to be in that position.
So, mix all these things together – emotional stress due to a pets’ suffering, long wait times pushing the owner’s patience and a pricey bill at the end – it all makes a great recipe for “shouts, threats, obscenities, etc.”
Here at the shelter, we are dealing with our own set of obstacles in providing all of our services under these circumstances but we are working towards safely pulling down some of those barriers. We are awaiting the delivery and installation of shielding across our reception counter after which we will allow visitors back into the building at a reduced capacity. We are already in the process of bringing our volunteers back on a limited basis. Our low-cost vaccine clinics are back up and running and our spay/neuter clinic has been busier than ever. Our outreach program is always available to pet owners in need, just visit our website for resources and guidance.
It’s been a rough year! The pandemic was bad enough but it could be worse, we could live down south with the hurricanes or out west with the wildfires! Anyway, take a deep breath, hug your pet and try to be kind to your family, neighbors and those that you do business with; we’re all stuck in this together.