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How local Veterinarians are handling a shortage

More pets and fewer vets has led to crazy hours for local veterinarians.
Dr. Ai Takeuchi of Lucerne Animal Hospital is working double time to keep Maine's pets happy...
Dr. Ai Takeuchi of Lucerne Animal Hospital is working double time to keep Maine's pets happy and healthy, amidst a shortage of veterinarians.(WABI)
Published: Jul. 21, 2021 at 6:17 PM EDT
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DEDHAM, Maine (WABI) - The amount of pet adoptions soared during the COVID-19 pandemic. But what happens when there’s a shortage of veterinarians?

Dr. Ai Takeuchi over at the Lucerne Veterinary Hospital in Dedham is among the dozens of vets working overtime to deal with the increase in demand, amidst a lack of providers.

“We are working as hard as we can during the hours that we are open, and brainstorming when we’re not here on how to meet the veterinary needs in the area,” Takeuchi said. “We’re starting to feel a little burnt out and fatigued at this point.”

Takeuchi and her fellow vets sometimes have to follow up their shifts with another one at Eastern Maine Emergency Medical Center in Brewer. It’s a grueling double shift, but it’s all the more necessary due to the shortage.

“Sometimes in the ER, it’s life or death,” Takeuchi said.

There aren’t very many veterinary schools nationwide, and the toll that the job can take on a vet’s mental health has made new hires scarce. It all means the importance of being a veterinarian has never been greater.

“We’re probably seeing anywhere from a 200-400 percent increase,” Takeuchi said. “There were some nights (before the pandemic) where we only saw 4-8 emergencies a night over at the Emergency Clinic, and now, some evenings we’re seeing 40 before 10 p.m. "

Takeuchi is reminding owners to take preventative care of their pets.

“Get your vaccines. Get your flea and tick medications. Keep your dog on a leash.”

Takeuchi urges owners to be patient during the shortage.

“We’re all here because we love animals. We’re working as hard as we can. Wait times can be long, so patience and kindness is much appreciated.”

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