Too many pets, not enough doctors: Demand for service continues to grow.

Pets are a priority at Juno Veterinary.

But the Toronto clinics hope to accomplish something else: help your professionals fall in love with work again.

To do that, says co-founder and chief veterinarian Dr. Cassandra Vilhacki, the clinics keep regular work hours, ensure adequate office support to avoid burnout, and mental health support for staff. Prefer access to

“Burnout is a big problem for many veterinary care teams,” said Wolhacki.

This is also not a new problem. There have been problems. has been going on for yearssaid Dr. Matthew Richardson, president of the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association (OMVA).

According to the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA), by 2022, there were approximately 5,383 vets working in Ontario – 258 more than in 2020, when there were 5,125 vets in the province.

During the same period, the number of pet dogs nationwide increased from 7.7 million to 7.9 million, while the number of pet cats increased from 400,000 to 8.5 million, according to the Canadian Animal Health Institute.

More pets means more maintenance

More pets means more people needing appointments, which Richardson said “can be a bit of a vicious cycle,” helping an overwhelmed industry and frustrated pet owners. Is.

“We have veterinarians dealing with burnout, compassion fatigue, all of these things,” he said. “Unfortunately, those problems often snowball.”

The CVMA began studying the industry more closely in 2019 as physician clinics reported 90 percent and above capacity. What the association found is that one in five clinics planned to reduce their hours because they did not have enough doctors to fill them, and reported turning away patients “frequently”.

“An eventual veterinarian supply crisis awaits,” the CVMA concluded, urging the development of a long-term recruiting strategy in which colleges hire graduate vets at a rate that only covers retiring veterinarians. is done

Phil Nichols is the CEO of the Toronto Humane Society, which launched a campaign called Toronto in Crisis to appeal for donations to help pet owners in need. (Talia Ricci/CBC)

Toronto Humane Society CEO Phil Nichols said the shortage is affecting people’s ability to access pet care. The non-profit organization offers appointments to those in need of veterinary services with the goal of reducing the financial burden of pet owners – especially preventative care such as spay and neutering, vaccinations and Microchipping.

“What we’re doing in response is trying to evaluate and bring to market new models of care delivery that allow for greater volume of delivery and community needs,” Nichols said. are.”

Between January and September 2023, the Humane Society provided more than $1.3 million in vet services in 7,871 placements, he says. While the services may not have all the bells and whistles of a private clinic, Nichols said they help more people access timely primary care.

Nichols added that the society is helping “significantly more” people than in previous years, noting that the higher cost of living is the driver behind that. The Toronto in Crisis campaign continues.

Measures taken to address malnutrition

The Ontario government also says it is doing its part to address the veterinary shortage.

“We are taking direct and urgent action to address the veterinary shortage through a multi-pronged approach, and the Veterinary Incentive Program is a component of this,” the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said in a statement.

The program gives 100 recent graduates grants of up to $50,000 over five years if they care for large animals and work in underserved areas. The government says the shortage is particularly acute in rural and northern Ontario.

At the same time, the province says it is looking to increase the number of students studying to become doctors, adding 80 new doctor of veterinary medicine seats over the next four years.

Back at Juno Veterinary, they’re using technology to help their part.

“We have TVs in every room to help pet owners see transparent projections of their pet’s potential plans going forward,” said Wolhacki. “Also, we have an app that provides 24/7 access to pet care.”

He said the app could reduce unnecessary clinic visits and allow staff to see more patients.

look Epidemics exacerbated the veterinary shortage.:

Epidemics exacerbated the veterinary shortage.

The shortage of veterinarians in Canada was exacerbated by the pandemic when more pets were being seen and people leaving the profession due to burnout increased.

“I think the problem will get better over time, but it will be a bit of a slow process,” Richardson said. In the meantime, she asked pet owners for their kindness and their patience.

“We are used to seeing all the patients who want to see us on the same day,” he said.

“Unfortunately, current conditions do not allow for this … we are doing our best, and we truly care about your pet’s well-being.”

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