HERMITAGE, Pa. (WKBN) — On Aug. 12, a local low to no-cost veterinary clinic will temporarily close its doors due to a medical staffing shortage.

Tails of Hope, a nonprofit clinic providing low-cost care to animals in the area, is experiencing a shortage of certified veterinary technicians. It’s also one of the few nonprofit spay/neuter clinics in Mercer County, which means the community and surrounding areas will feel the impact.

Clinics near and far have seen rising costs, reduced availability and long wait times due to recent years’ veterinary labor shortages, and the pandemic has only exacerbated these problems.

According to executive director Soraya Hejazi in a statement, clinics and offices around the country have had to decrease the number of patients they’re able to serve. Many shelters are unable to accept any more animals.

“Staffing shortages at animal clinics have led to frustrated pet guardians, unwanted litters and added stress to already overburdened veterinary staff, even after their workday is over,” says Hejazi. “Rural areas like ours are hit the hardest.”

This means no more services that are required by shelters before a pet finds its forever home.

“If they cannot get the ones they have in their care already spayed or neutered, then they’re not going to be able to take it anymore. And that just puts a whole nother, you know, stop into this into the cycle in the system of being able to home animals in and bring more into to be saved,” said Hejazi.

According to Mars Veterinary Health reports, some of the issues veterinary technicians face include a high physical, mental and emotional toll, such as burnout and fatigue. The relatively low pay remains an ongoing concern, and the turnover rates are twice that of comparable industries.

“The studies that are coming out now are showing that it’s going to take more than 30 years of graduates to just meet the next ten year demand. So it is not plausible that any one organization is going to solve this. We have to work together,” Hejazi said.

Where does all the animal waste go from the fair?

Tails of Hope urges community leaders, local municipalities and local vet practices to join forces and employ strategic planning methods to combat the staffing shortages, including:

  • effectively applying current veterinary workforce in the community
  • improving current veterinary employee retention rates in the community
  • preparing to employ and retain future veterinary employees
  • improving proactive approaches to pet overpopulation in the community/

“We cannot repair the nationwide crisis, but we can show our community we care enough to work together and make a difference locally,” says Hejazi.