National Veterinary Shortage Threatens Valley Pet Care
Due to a national veterinary shortage, 75 Million U.S. pets could be without veterinary care by 2030.
According to a new study from Banfield Pet Hospital, it is estimated that 75 million pets in the U.S. could be without the veterinary care they need by 2030 due, in part, to staffing shortages in the number of trained professionals to handle the workload. According to Dr. Jim Lloyd, an economist and former University of Florida veterinary college dean, the growing shortage of veterinarians in the field is in the range of 3,000 to 5,000, numbers confirmed by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
One reason for the shortage is that as baby-boomer veterinarians retire (approaching a 2,000-a-year pace), the shortage grows. The same shortage persists for veterinary technicians who are leaving the profession in alarming numbers. The fallout from the staffing shortage is profoundly leading to staff burnout, compassion fatigue, service delays, the potential effect on the quality of care, and limitations on access to care. These same trends are being seen locally here in Arizona in both the private practice sector as well as in animal welfare organizations across the state.
“This industry-wide staffing shortage poses a significant threat to the viability of the Arizona Humane Society’s public veterinary clinics,” said Dr. Melissa Thompson, Arizona Humane Society Vice President of Medical Operations. “We can’t continue to serve our community with affordable veterinary and wellness services if we don’t have the support staff in place to do so.”
These shortages are further exacerbated by the following:
- Veterinary college class sizes: compared to growth in human and pet populations, vet school expansions are not keeping up; since 1978, the U.S. has added just six schools, including Phoenix’s Midwestern University and the University of Arizona’s College of Veterinary Medicine
- Lack of state funding: 25 of 28 schools rely heavily on state funding; state legislatures have refused to commit significant resources to upgrades or expansions of teaching hospitals
Despite those systemic challenges, there are a variety of opportunities available for those who want to put their passion and compassion for pets and people into action. Not only is the Arizona Humane Society looking to hire four veterinarians, a veterinary clinic manager as well as a receptionist, for its public veterinary clinics and the shelter’s Second Chance Animal Trauma Hospital™, but AHS also offers on-the-job training for veterinary technicians as well as a four-day workweek.