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El Paso vet clinics struggle to provide pet care amid high demand, staff shortages

EL PASO, Texas -- As demand for veterinary services increase and staffing decreases, it spells trouble for pet clinics throughout the city.

“The demand for veterinary services are unprecedented, not only in my clinic, not only in El Paso, not in the state of Texas but nationwide. So it's been higher than it has ever been in the 40 years that I've been practicing,” said Dr. Orlando Garza, East El Paso Animal Hospital's managing veterinarian.

Dr. Marc Silpa, Paw N’ Hooves associate veterinarian, told ABC-7 that the spike in visits can be caused by several factors - such as increasing adoptions and people paying closer attention to their pets due to quarantine.

Garza said that the mix of stress and the pandemic can also be to blame for the lack of staff they are experiencing.

“We have lost more staff members this last 12 months than I have in the previous 20 years combined,” said Garza.

Busy and with limited staff, the Paws N’ Hooves Clinic is forced to make adjustments - like cutting their hours and only taking surgeries on certain days.

“To allow us to see our family, we’re starting to cut back on things, for example cut back on surgeries on those days,” said Silpa.

Even with appointments taking 2 hours or more, Garza said people from Alamogordo and Las Cruces make the trip to El Paso to receive care for their pets, who otherwise would not be seen for close to 3 weeks.

The shortage of medicine and costly supplies are also putting a strain on doctors.

“Even penicillin right now is almost next to impossible to get a hold of, some of the heart medications that we use are unavailable,” said Garza.

Veterinarians remind the community to be patient and kind as they wait.

“We’re working as hard as we can and we're doing as much as we possibly can and we're trying to get everybody and every patient treated, we would just like a little bit of understanding as we go forward,” said Garza.

Brianna Perez

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