Area veterinary clinics are still open but have made changes to how they see your pets and what services are offered because of COIVD-19.
Hillcrest Veterinary Clinic, Paw Prints Veterinary Clinic and Cheat Lake Animal Hospital have all switched to curb-side service.
It would be impossible to maintain the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended six feet of distance inside the waiting room and exam rooms, George Seiler, veterinarian at Paw Prints and president of the West Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, said.
All three clinics are now getting patient information, such as symptoms, by phone, sending a technician out to get the pet and contacting owners by phone to discuss the diagnosis and treatment options.
Paw Prints purchased four extra cell phones in order to keep work flowing after a day of “trial and error,” Seiler said.
The three clinics are also rescheduling non-essential procedures and check-ups.
Jesse Fallon, a partner and vet at Cheat Lake Animal Hospital, said the clinic is postponing spay and neuter surgeries, as those can generally be postponed without ill effect. Annual wellness exams for fully vaccinated animals are also being delayed.
Hillcrest is still performing spay and neuter surgeries in cases of infection and trauma, but is otherwise postponing them, veterinarian Aaron Pollock said.
Seiler said Paw Prints is still offering spay and neuter surgeries. He said that it’s cat breeding season and not spaying females would lead to a lot more unwanted kittens around while spaying dogs before their first heat cycle reduces the chance of breast cancer by 95%.
Pets are probably faring better than humans during the COVID-19 pandemic, Pollock said. They are enjoying the extra attention and having them is good for humans, too.
As a bonus, there is no evidence pets can contract COVID-19 or serve as a transmission point for humans, Fallon said.
“So they can spend as much time with their pets as they want,” he said.
However, it’s important to have a plan in place for someone to take care of your pet if you get sick, Pollock said. He suggested a trusted friend, neighbor, or family member.
Seiler said he’s proud of the way the veterinary community has come together to solve problems and continue to offer services.
“We’re proud to be an essential service and part of the human-animal bond and we’ll be there for your pets,” Pollock said. “But just like us, if it’s not an emergency please stay home.”