Manitoba veterinarians are asking pet owners for patience when it comes to balancing providing essential animal services and preventing the spread of COVID-19.
In a statement, the Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) said vets and their staff have been experiencing stress and fatigue as they struggle to meet the surging demand for their services — something that takes longer than usual due to pandemic precautions.
“Veterinary professionals in Manitoba have reported an increase in aggressive, abusive and otherwise unsafe interactions between clients and veterinarians, veterinary technologists, and other clinic staff,” the MVMA said.
“These types of interactions harm not only the veterinary team, but other clients and patients as well.
Veterinary professionals in Manitoba are asking that public practice patience, calmness and compassion when obtaining veterinary services.”
Sandy Weaver, who calls herself “the veterinarian’s champion”, is the author of ‘Happy Vet, Happy Pet’. She told 680 CJOB that when she learned about problems veterinarians face with stress, depression, anxiety — even suicide — she changed her consulting business to focus solely on veterinary clients.
“When I found out about the veterinarian suicide problem — and it is a big problem — I felt I had to do something,” said Weaver.
“Veterinarians don’t really have careers, they have callings — they feel called to do what they do, and then they feel pushed by the clients who aren’t caring for the pets.
“I wanted to write a book to help pet owners like me to understand the damage we are doing to the human beings we count on so much.”
Weaver said over the course of her work with veterinarians, she’s heard countless stories of clients first consulting “Dr. Google” and then criticizing doctors if their pets require different, sometimes more expensive treatments.
“When we, as pet owners, balk at how much it costs, we make our veterinarian feel bad about having to charge.”
Winnipeg vet Dr. Corey Bartley, of Dakota Veterinary Hospital, told 680 CJOB everyone who has worked in an animal clinic has experienced negative responses from clients, mostly surrounding the price . However, she said that despite assumptions, veterinarians don’t get into the business to get rich.
“This is not a money-making business,” said Bartley.
“The overhead on running a clinic — I don’t think anybody has any concept. In a country like Canada, most of our (human) medical care is covered, so we don’t really have a concept of how much does an ultrasound cost, how much does a hysterectomy cost, how much does repairing a wound cost?
“I try to remind people that veterinarians, veterinary staff… we’re the same people who are your neighbours and your family members and friends — there’s no secret kickbacks going on. It can be very hurtful.”