Pet owners struggle to book vet appointments as clinic requests surge

WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) – A social media post caught our attention. In it, a dog owner shared concerns about the long waits to get their sick pet seen by a veterinarian, so Western Mass News decided to check back in with the veterinary emergency and specialty hospital for updates on their plans to add a location in West Springfield .

Western Massachusetts veterinary clinics are swamped with appointment requests. Keri Gardent, hospital director of the Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital in South Deerfield, said the pandemic may be to blame. She said COVID-19 has had a huge impact on the veterinary world as a whole since, during quarantine, a lot of people decided to adopt pets.

“We have heard of people who do have trouble finding a place that could see their pets. “Well, there’s a long wait time to get in, some places are unable to accept new patients at this point because there has been such an influx of pet ownership,” Gardent said.

Due to this increase in patients, Western Mass News decided to check back in with Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital and get answers on the status of their new 24-hour emergency pet clinic currently being built in West Springfield. Gardent told us there had been a few delays in the project. She explained that, once again, COVID-19 is to blame for creating both staffing and supply issues. Originally, they were hoping to open in the beginning of 2023, but now, she says it has been pushed back to the spring.

“It’s taking shape…Every time I visit, it’s just really exciting to see. You can actually walk through the various rooms and it’s coming to life,” Gardent noted.

Geography is also a factor for vets and pet owners. As of right now, the only 24-hour emergency animal clinic in western Massachusetts is Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Hospital’s location in South Deerfield. To put that in perspective, it’s about a 35 minute drive from our station on Liberty Street in Springfield and the new location in West Springfield is about 12 minutes.

“Most of them do end up going to our South Deerfield location and that is okay. We’re always here for now and that’s great, but we do understand that it’s a bit of a drive. “I do believe there’s some options down the Connecticut area, but again, that’s not geographically convenient for them,” Gardent explained.

Gardent told us that, as of now, they have no plans on crossing over into the wellness sector of veterinary medicine. However, when it comes to things like infections and other emergencies, their West Springfield facility will be there to ease the burden off other veterinary clinics.

By hadem