We would like to thank everyone for their continued patience and understanding as we navigate through the pandemic. Many things have changed, not only here at Towne & Country Veterinary Hospital, but in veterinary medicine as a whole. There is, and has been, a worldwide veterinarian and vet technician shortage. This has caused several issues from being booked out for well visits to lack of emergency coverage. We will cover these issues, along with others in this email.
We have been doing everything in our power to hire new doctors and techs but, for several years even before the COVID-19 pandemic started, there has been a decline in veterinarians. According to some studies and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics there is “a growing shortage of veterinarians in the range of 3,000 to 5,000” in the United States alone. This is the time to be a veterinarian. Veterinarians can be selective of where they want to work and a small practice in a small town is not generally where they want to be. The pandemic has increased the issue with doctors retiring early, offices closing early, and people adopting new pets to keep them company as they were quarantining. Some of you may know we welcomed Dr. Elizabeth Wilcox to our team in September. While her addition to our staff does help, we are still down two doctors. We are booking out a few months for well visits. To help with this we have changed our reminder settings to allow people to know of upcoming vaccine due dates well in advance and give them the opportunity to schedule those vaccines without becoming overdue. As always, rabies clinics are available for this mandatory vaccine. You can find out about these clinics by contacting your county’s public health department. We are not accepting new clients at this time. This is the first time we have had to do this since we opened over 35 years ago. We are still operating with curbside service and only staff are allowed in the building. We are however, allowing owner present euthanasia. At this time, we do not have an end date set for these restrictions but we are reviewing our options. With the lack of veterinarians in the area we need to keep the ones we do have healthy and in the office.
If you have a sick or injured pet that needs to be seen, please call the office at 7:30 am and speak with a receptionist, do not leave a message with the answering service. Please do not email, text, use the app or pet portal for sick visit requests. The answering service does not send their call list until after 8 am, sometimes as late as 9 am. By the time we get through all of the emails our appointments have been booked for that day. With texting, the app and pet portal, we do not look at the requests until the morning has slowed down and we have the staff available to go through the multitude of messages we get overnight.
Nothing is more frustrating for us than to have someone not show for their appointment. PLEASE, call as soon as you know you cannot keep an appointment so patients on our waiting list can be seen. If you are unable to call during business hours for a next day cancellation, please leave a message with the answering service or text us.
Due to the number of hospitals removing themselves from the Corning-Elmira Veterinary Emergency Group and the dwindling number of doctors in practice in our area, effective October 14, 2021 the group was unfortunately dissolved after providing over 40 years of after hours care to our community. We are still here for emergencies for our clients during regular business hours. After hours the best option for your pet may be emergency care at Cornell University (607-253-3060) or Colonial Hospital (607-527-360) in Ithaca, NY. Vestal Veterinary Hospital (607-754-3933) in Vestal, NY will also see emergencies on a limited basis. Orchard Park Veterinary Medical Center in Orchard Park (716-662-6660) is a 24-hour emergency hospital that is a distance to travel but is also an option. At one of these emergency hospitals your pet will receive the vital care needed. We still have a 24-hour emergency answering service that can direct you to emergency care when you call our regular office number (607-937-8222) after hours. If you do have an emergency, you must call and speak with the emergency hospital before arrival to make sure they are not at capacity and are able to accept your pet. If they are at capacity, they will try to advise you where else to seek veterinary care.
We have increased the number of contactless pick-up lockers since we began using them just over a year ago. Not only do they provide contactless service they also decrease your time waiting to pick up medications as you do not have to call to let us know you are here and wait for someone to bring them to you. They also allow you to pick things up on your schedule, even when we are closed. Once your pet’s medication is paid for it will be placed in an assigned locker. Almost any medication can be put in a locker and every food can be put in the food bin. The areas are lit and under camera surveillance for safety. If you are unable to use the locker system due to cash or check payment or if the medication is unable to be put in a locker, such as a controlled medication or refrigerated item, please remember non-locker pick-up hours are from 7:30 am to 12 pm and 1 pm to 5 pm Monday through Friday and 7:30 am to 12 pm on Saturday. We are closed for non-locker pick-up between 12pm and 1pm.
The holiday season is nearly upon us. We will be closed for Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year’s Day. Please see the schedule below for our holiday schedule. Please do not wait until the last minute for any refills as refill requests may take up to 24 hours. Pets are part of our family and are often included in holiday meals. Remember, they can have issues with all the extra food and treats during the holidays just like we do. Chocolate, grapes, garlic, onions, raisins, macadamia nuts, fat, bones, ham, and spices are all toxic to animals. If you do want to treat your pets this holiday season small amounts of things like skinless white meat turkey or chicken, mashed potatoes or squash before you add the milk, butter and seasonings, celery, carrots, and green beans are all safe options. See our Facebook page for more information on safe Thanksgiving treats.
Upcoming holiday closures:
Thanksgiving: Wednesday 11/24/21, closing at 5 pm reopening Friday 11/26/21 7:30 am
Christmas: Thursday 12/23/21, closing at 5 pm reopening Monday 12/27/21 at 7:30 am
Unfortunately, we will not be having our Open House and Dr. Mike’s reindeer displays will not be happening this year. We wish you all a safe and happy holiday season and if at any time you have an emergency while we are closed, call our main line at 607-937-8222 to speak with the answering service who will direct you to the on-call hospital. They are unable to book appointments or refill any medications. Please call during regular business hours if you are canceling or booking appointments, requesting food or medication refills, or have a non-emergent problem. The answering service does not have any access to medical records or our schedule.
As always, especially during these challenging COVID times,
We wish everyone a safe and happy holiday season.