Wait times for vet appointments skyrocket across Greater Victoria due to COVID-19

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WatchThe pandemic has created a large backlog at Island vet clinics. Procedures that once took a few days are now taking weeks to a month to get done. As Julian Kolsut reports, some clinics have stopped taking new patients altogether.

The pandemic has resulted in a massive backlog at Greater Victoria vet clinics and experts say people should expect the problem to continue.

Some say wait times have shot up to half a month or more.

“Before COVID, we were able to fit people in one to two days. Now it’s more like 14 days for non-urgent things like vaccines, and that’s extremely unusual,” said Joanna Piercy, part-owner and vet at Oaklands Veterinary Hospital.

Piercy brought on a new veterinarian recently and has been putting in 15 hour days, but many are still stuck waiting — a region-wide trend.

“We are desperately trying to get everyone in, but there is only so much time in the day and we do need to sleep at some point,” she said.

The beginning of COVID-19 resulted in a large limitation in what veterinarians could offer, and now many of those waiting to get back on vaccination schedules or get their pets spayed or neutered have piled up.

Other factors are also filling up spaces.

“There is a lot of talk out there of people adopting new pets because of COVID because they have all this time on their hands and they want a partner at home,” said Piercy.

“Sometimes we’ve got people coming in more often because they are noticing things with their pets because they are at home and are watching them more.”

Oaklands Veterinary Hospital says they had to make the difficult decision of putting new patients on a waitlist.

It’s not just owners and vets struggling, organizations like The Victoria Humane Society are also facing roadblocks as they work to find animals their fur-ever homes.

“Normally if a cat comes in, we can keep it for a couple of weeks and get it fixed and get it out, now it will be a month to six weeks to get them out,” said founder and executive director Penny Stone.

She says the furry frustration has been felt for months

“What happened during COVID, everything stopped, they weren’t doing surgeries unless they were emergency, and nothing was happening there were no vaccines, and everybody got backed up, so now that it’s opened up everyone is booked back to back.”

Stone had to rush a kitten up to Nanaimo to have a leg amputated recently.

“We phoned around, we phoned eight different clinics, we phoned everything and no-one could see the kitten and it was in a lot of pain, so I drove it up to Nanaimo, to Central Island Veterinary Emergency Hospital,” she said.

“It’s not the vet’s fault, let me say that.”

Piercy says pets having a medical emergency should rushed to a veterinary hospital. However, she recommends that other issues could be resolved by calling a clinic and sending in photos and information to see how soon an animal needs to be brought in.

As for how long the backlog could last, she says what was first expected to only last a month will likely continue for a year.

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