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Animal hospital can't handle flood of patients, diverts ill pets to other facilities

Angell Animal Medical Center in Jamaica Plain reported tonight it had run out of capacity to handle any new ER patients and was diverting all but the absolute sickest to other facilities in the area.

Angell says this isn't the first time it's had to do this of late, and won't be the last:

Due to the unprecedented volume of patients and a nationwide veterinary staffing shortage, on some nights, the Angell Emergency & Critical Care (ECC) service in Boston will be diverting new emergency cases to other emergency or urgent care facilities from 7pm to 7am with the exception of patients experiencing an imminent, life-threatening medical emergency (e.g., cardiac arrest or difficulty breathing).

We urge clients to call 617-522-7282 before visiting our Angell Boston emergency room to confirm patients are being admitted to the ECC service.

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Comments

Angell is great but with the amount of transient Bostonians with pets, this facility is def maxed out.

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A few months ago, after my dog ate a toad, I was talking with Angell in Waltham and they said if I needed emergency care (I didn't - luckily the toads around here aren't that toxic to larger dogs) I'd have to take her into Boston.

It's also tough just getting basic appointments, particularly if your animal is a new patient.

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Yeah it seems like they've been really overwhelmed for some time now. We had to book a surgery consultation for our dog and it was like a 4 month wait.

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A 4-month wait is an awfully long time to have to wait for surgery consultation for your dog, especially if it's not an elective surgery.

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I also have a 4-month wait for a surgery consult. It's not an emergency, but the poor pup needs surgery on his knee. Hopefully the actual surgery won't require so much lead time.

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try ProFormance Canine in Harvard, MA.

while we were waiting for our consult at Angell, i was calling around to find something sooner and that's when i found ProFormance -who got us in under 2 weeks. (guy who runs it was former head of Ortho at Tufts Vet teaching hospital.)

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I've had to take our dumb dog to the Veterinary Emergency Group in Newton (near the old Filene's Basement) twice due to poorly thought out ingestion of foreign objects. Not cheap but then neither is Angell so it's a good option of Angell is backed up.

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Glad that your dog didn't eat a toad that was toxic, and that he was okay.

Even if one's pet has been a patient at Angell Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston for a really long time, getting appointments is still difficult. I've often been unable to get appointments for such things as wellness exams, or even just tech appointments for at least 6-7 weeks afterwards. It's crazy.

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Is your bird doing OK?

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She's as lively, happy, and talkative as can be. She whistles, clicks, clucks, chirps, beeps, and even sings. She's a great companion to have around the house. She has not been ill for a number of years, which is great.

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My cousin is a vet tech on the west coast and she is working long hours. She was thinking of leaving one practice for another, which would have increased her salary substantially (her brother has long said that she was being underpaid), but her current employer woke up and matched the offer.

Turns out there is a nationwide shortage of vet techs. It isn't a line of work that people go into for the money, and there is limited space in training programs. The surge in people keeping pets has not been matched by a surge in vet staff to care for them, and COVID protocols are reducing the number who can be seen.

Last August when my cat was howling and not using her back leg I had some issues finding emergency care for her. She had had recent dental work, so that made it easier to get a slot in Woburn because they didn't have to repeat bloodwork and so they squeezed her into a 9pm appointment. Thankfully just a badly sprained back leg and not a break or bone tumor, and rest and muscle relaxants worked.

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It's really weird that there is a national shortage of vet techs and veterinarians, because lots and lots of people here in the United States have pets. Glad you were able to finally obtain emergency care for your cat, even though it meant being squeezed in for a later appointment. Glad that your cat had only a sprained back leg, and that rest and muscle relaxants worked for your pet.

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She was howling so badly that our vet neighbor heard her across the street and came running over! We think she jumped off of a stone wall and landed wrong. She still favors that leg, but she is older and has some knee arthritis. She is more cautious about judging her leaps now.

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Glad that your vet neighbor came running over to your place upon hearing your cat howling.

Sorry to hear that she's got knee arthritis, and still needs to favor the leg that she injured. Glad she's still around. Pets are so like and part of the family.

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It used to be harder to get into veterinary college than it was to get into medical school. IDK if that has changed, but if not, it might contribute to a vet tech shortage.

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From what I've heard from vet friends, it's hard to get in, a hard course of study, and most of them barely make a middle-class wage. It's hard work as well, as they deal with a lot of shitty owners, and animal maltreatment pretty much isn't a crime unless it's extreme.

It's apparently hard to find and keep good staff too. The pay sucks even for the credentialed techs who have a degree, and a lot of the entry-level staff are trying to be in the field because they're hoarders or otherwise have shady interests in animals.

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A dear friend of mine was a vet tech at Angell in the 1980s. But I'm not completely sure she was a "vet tech" as it's defined today. She assisted the doctors in some medical procedures and provided care for animals who were recuperating at the hospital. She also did some clerical work, such as accounts payable, and dealt with pet owners about, among other things, continuing care and the potential cost and outcome of surgery. Seemed like she had a pretty good eye for diagnosing or at least making a reasonable guess about a pet's illness (she was apparently the go-to person on her block among neighbors whose dog or cat wasn't well).
Ultimately, she went on maternity leave and decided not to return to her job, for a variety of reasons. But I remember her explaining that, for her to get to the "next level" in terms of employment at Angell, she would've had to go back to school (she had a bachelor's degree) or at least take some courses part-time. So maybe she was a step below the vet-tech level? At any rate, her days (and nights) at Angell were rarely dull.

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Roughly ten years ago, when Aziza, my pet female Congo African Grey Parrot was just a year old, and was really feeling out of sorts, I took her to Angell Animal Memorial Animal Hospital here in Boston, for emergency care. As it turned out, most of the exotic bird veterans in the general area, including my own exotic birds veterinarian, were attending some sort of conference.

Aziza was taken in anyway, examined, and a gram stain on her droppings was done. It was found that she had a bacterial infection, and the doctor who examined her prescribed an antibiotic medicine for Aziza that I had to give her for ten days, that covered a wide range of bacterial infections. Since most of the veterinarians were away attending a special conference, they were not able to do any blood work on her. I took her home and began giving her the anti-biotic, which I had to administer to her twice a day, every 12 hours. They sent me up to the VCA (Veterinary Centers of America) up in Wakefield, where they took some blood from her and gave her some sort of stuff, because she was dehydrated. I spent a total of 4 hours waiting up in Wakefield for the bloodwork and all on Aziza to be finished.

When I told the veterinarian up at VCA/Wakefield that Aziza was on antibiotics, she told me to cut the antibiotic amount in half. When I called the owner of the pet store where I'd purchased Aziza and told her that, she raised the roof, and warned me not to listen to that vet up in Wakefield's VCA. I listened to the pet store's owner. Fortunately, after all this, Aziza's blood work came up normal, and I continued taking the 10-day antibiotic course that had been prescribed to Aziza at Angell/boston, exactly as it had been prescribed, and Aziza was back to normal.

Veterinary Centers of America is a franchise, and I really don't trust them. The South Shore Animal Hospital is also a part of that Franchise, and they're really not a hell of a lot better. There was a time, however, when Angell Animal Memorial Hospital here in Boston had no exotic bird veterinarians, so I had no choice but to take her to South Shore Animal Hospital for appointments and/or care. Happily, Angell Animal Memorial Animal Hospital in Boston now has three exotic bird veterinarians.

Angell Memorial Animal Hospital here in Boston is pretty good, but the only thing I really don't like about it is the fact that if and when one has to bring their pet in on an emergency basis, they have to pay $170.00 dollars just to walk in the door with their pet, on top of everything else, which, imo, is a rather steep price. I personally think that's highway robbery, but that's how it goes, sometimes.

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My Labrador torn open her "under carriage" while swimming and we took her to Blue Pearl in Waltham at around 5P on a Saturday in June for a repair (14 sutures, several two layer, under anesthesia, thankyouverymuch$). As I was waiting in the lot, another woman pulled in with her sick pup. Blue Pearl informed her they were now closed. She got mad because she said she had called earlier in the day and they said they were open. She had waited because she was trying to decide whether it was serious enough for the cost of an ER visit. Another pet owner also waiting said that she had visited another Angell location in Danvers (she was from the North Shore) and they had turned her away so she came to Blue Pearl.

Considering the sheer number of pet ERs in the Greater Boston area, I just hope that there are enough vets to accommodate the number of pandemic pets.

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There are a limited number of spaces in veterinary and vet tech programs, plus it takes time to get through them. The supply of vets and vet techs cannot increase quickly just because people started buying more pets during the pandemic.

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It sounds like what goes on in human hospital emergency rooms, especially right now.

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I wonder if the Covid-19 pandemic will get more people interested in becoming veterinarians and attending school in order to be vets.

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I don't know any veterinarian who does not actively discourage everyone they can from going to vet school.

Long hours, low pay, huge student loans, no respect.

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The Covid-19 pandemic may very well encourage people to attend Veterinary School and become veterinarians! Enough people own pets so that it's a possibility to look into.

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I'm a local vet, and things are bad. Veterinarians and support staff are quitting the field in droves.

The profession is just not worth the burnout to the point of suicide, the low pay ($100k for 60+ hours vs. 250k+ student loans), the corporate takeover (most vets work for the Mars corporation now...), the angry and abusive clients who tell you what they want you to prescribe and never listen to you anyway, and the poorly-behaved pets who want to kill you.

There was a great increase in demand for veterinary services when the pandemic hit for a number of reasons. As that demand increased, we had to change protocols to curbside service to protect ourselves from COVID. This takes far more time but is necessary for us to stay open. Because vet clinics are typically small and work together very closely and have very little wiggle room for staff shortages, any kind of contagious illness causes havoc.

So, plan ahead for wellness services. If you adopt a new pet, call as soon as possible for those visits and surgery. Be early for your appointment. If you miss it, we cannot fit you in because we are fully / double / triple booked with people calling constantly for appointments.

If you are rude, yell at us, curse at us, or threaten us, we will fire you. Because we are hemorrhaging staff, we can't have them abused. And we will quickly replace you with a client who will be kind and appreciative.

Remember that your veterinarian is a doctor, and like your internist or psychiatrist or pediatrician, you can't expect to get them on the phone to answer your every question. You can't expect to get an appointment that same day just like in human medicine. You can't expect them to prescribe your pet medicine without an examination. You can't expect to tell them what you want them to do because you read it on the internet.

Veterinarians are killing themselves at an astonishing rate. I am suicidal myself, off and on. I just wanted to help pets and the people who love them like I do. I find myself operating at the intersection of emotion and money, with all of the responsibility and none of the control, my opinion less respected than articles on Facebook.

Be kind. Practically every single veterinary professional is there to help. We make no money. We stay awake at night thinking of your pet. We hate this as much as you do.

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