How the nationwide vet shortage is impacting San Luis Obispo
A nationwide veterinarian shortage is affecting veterinary clinics in San Luis Obispo, specifically the Woods Humane Society in San Luis Obispo that’s being impacted by the shortage.
“I would comfortably say for over a year we have been on our search for a full time veterinarian here at Woods,” the Woods Humane Society community engagement manager, Robin Coleman said. “We’ve done a lot of contract people who are willing to do short term, do one day here one day there.”
The non-profit private shelter offers spay and neuter services. During the pandemic, approximately 23 million Americans adopted a dog or cat, according to a recent survey conducted by the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
“But unfortunately, post pandemic, lots of animals, lots of animals in need,” Coleman said. “Shelters are full fuller than we’ve been in over a decade.”
This has been dubbed as “the fur baby boom.” More pets are needing care and there are not enough vets to give the care.
Coleman said that people are needing to book services through Woods out in advance.
Animal science senior, Tori Fleming, said her experience working at the Stenner Creek Animal Hospital in San Luis Obispo faced similar obstacles from the shortage.
“Appointments would be booked out months in advance, and then even when you came in to see the doctor, most days he was running late,” said Fleming. “So you could be going in for just a regular vaccine appointment, which should take 10 to 15 minutes, and you could be waiting there for like three hours.”
Fleming doubles as an aspiring veterinarian and a pet owner to her two year old cat Bones.
“It’s just scary when you really have to say, okay, am I going to be able to do this? Am I going to be able to get into a school to learn how to do this and get my certifications,” Fleming said.
California has two accredited schools of veterinary medicine — UC Davis and the Western University of Health Sciences in Pomona — and 32 in the U.S..
This makes getting into veterinary school very competitive.
Many students have been moving abroad to get their vet degrees because of the low acceptance rates.
“So if you get a doctorate of Veterinary Medicine (DVM), which is what you get from vet school, if you get that, say in like England, that’s a different license than you get here,” said Fleming. “So you wouldn’t necessarily be able to practice in the United States with the license from somewhere else.”