Local veterinary clinics struggle to accept new clients amid staff shortages

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There was a surge of pet adoptions during the pandemic. While this is great for pets who are in need of homes, it is also putting a strain on local veterinary clinics who can’t keep up with the demand.

Northland vets have seen an influx of new patient requests, and and oftentimes do not have enough staff to supply care

Dr. Kelly Powell, who has been a veterinarian for 17 years, works at Dougherty Veterinary clinic in Duluth. She says throughout her career she’s seen it all, but the past two years have been an explosion of need.

"We aren’t seeing new clients currently just because we want to be able to serve the clients that we have in the best way possible," said Dr. Powell. "So we had a temporary restraint on bringing new clients in, but as we add staff then hopefully we’ll be able to reopen our doors soon to new clients and new pets."

Dr. Christine Wickenheiser, a Veterinarian at Cloquet Animal Hospital, says they are experiencing the same struggles.

"I’ve seen double, sometimes triple the amount of appointments on a daily basis than I was seeing 3 or 4 years ago," she said. "We all need staff. We don’t have it available to us."

This inspired Dr. Wickenheiser to provide an alternative for pet parents looking for answers. ‘Ask Vet Christine‘ is an online subscription-based website that allows pet owners to ask her any question they’d like, at any time.

"It’s not just for health emergencies too, it’s for just answering food questions, toy questions, travel questions, behavior questions."

She hopes that answering these questions will alleviate stress on clinics like hers who are already so busy, and help parents who want the best for their four legged friends.

For those still looking to find veterinary care for their pets, Dr. Powell says to keep calling and checking at your local clinics as availability changes nearly day to day.

In the meantime, local emergency animal clinics like Blue Pearl in Duluth are available for immediate care in the case of emergencies.