LUBBOCK, Texas — Since the start of the coronavirus shutdown, pets have been flying out of stores and shelters, and this pandemic pet boom has veterinarians saying they’re busier than ever.
“Demand has definitely gone up,” Dr. Jeffrey Ledford, veterinarian at Hub City Veterinary Clinic, said.
Local vets said the demand for their services is the biggest it’s been in years, and they’ve worked around the clock to keep up. It’s all thanks to people trapped inside at home, adopting new furry friends or paying more attention to the ones they already had.
“Now [pet owners] are home all the time, and they’re like, ‘Huh? Well Grace [the dog] didn’t eat her food very well, or she vomited three times today, or yeah, I noticed that limp,'” Ledford said.
As essential workers, vets never had to close their clinics. Some even got creative, turning to “curbside” pet care to reduce virus spread while taking care of all the critters.
But the pet boom also has some feeling burnt out.
“It’s nice to have an increase in business … We’ve been fortunate in that standpoint because there have been a lot of people who have been the opposite, but on the flip side, I think the mental strain has been tough,” Ledford said.
At times, Ledford added, the increased demand over the last year has been overwhelming and taken a toll on his and his staff’s mental health.
“We want to say yes to everybody … but every time we maybe say an additional yes is maybe saying no to our families, saying no to our kids, saying no to our own personal mental health,” Ledford said.
Now, vets are growing concerned that some of the pets people adopted during the pandemic are being abandoned.
“Now that [the owners] are back at school or back at work, they suddenly don’t want that pet anymore,” Dr. Randy Bullard, veterinarian with the Veterinary Clinic of Lubbock, said.
But no matter what, business won’t be slowing down for them anytime soon.
“It’s like that new, warm, fuzzy feeling of having a pet is maybe not quite there anymore, and they have the realities of what it’s like to have an animal,” Ledford said.