Pet owners in a bind as Sault veterinarians not taking new patients
SAULT STE. MARIE -- If you're thinking about picking up a new pet, you may want to hold off a little longer.
Several new pet owners in the Sault haven't been able to find a veterinarian throughout the pandemic, with many facing backlogs that are preventing animal clinics from taking on new patients.
"We only just got Ella this week, but I was calling clinics all the way from Wawa to Echo Bay to try and get her vaccinated," said Tiina Niemi, a new pet owner. "No one would take her to vaccinate her, no one is taking any new puppies. Unless you're already a client, you can't get a vet."
Niemi said the ongoing U.S.-Canadian land border shutdown is also contributing to the problem.
"All the people who went across the river to vets there, can no longer do that, so they've flooded our vets in Sault Ste. Marie," she said. "All of us new puppy owners who didn't know this happened are finding out and don't know what to do."
Needs to be neutered
The problem has also extended to current pet owners, as well.
Maria Tremblay recently adopted her third dog, who is already vaccinated but is in need of being neutered.
However, she said even her current veterinarian doesn't have room for him.
"They say it's crazy and it's nuts here," Tremblay said. "They tell me that they will only take my existing pets, that they are unable to take any new pets."
Sault Ste. Marie Animal Clinic, Ableson Veterinary Services, Animal hospital, Northland Animal Hospital and Black Road Veterinary Services either declined or could not be reached for comment.
A statement from the Ontario Veterinary Medical Association confirmed to CTV News the issue is being seen throughout the province.
"The COVID-19 pandemic has presented challenges that have impacted the delivery of service in all sectors, including veterinary medicine," it reads. "For veterinarians across the province, the challenge has been amplified by an increased demand for veterinary services at a time when veterinary hospitals are not able to see as many clients as usual due to COVID-19-related health and safety protocols."
Tremblay said she was able to find room for her dog at another clinic and has booked an appointment for later this summer.
Still, she said a solution is needed for those in more dire situations.
"Having a bunch of unvaccinated animals around, it's not a good thing," she said.