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Local veterinarians making adjustments during crisis

Local veterinarians making adjustments during crisis

In order to keep patients, clients and staff safe, some veterinary practices have changed procedures during the coronavirus pandemic.

“In the animal healthcare community, it is our duty to serve and take care of them,” said Dr. James St. Clair, a veterinarian at Meriden Animal Hospital.

Meriden Animal Hospital changed its protocols for dropping off pets about four weeks ago. Clients are asked to call when they are in the parking lot. A staff member will then come out to get the pet. Once the pet is in with a veterinarian, the vet will call the owner and speak with them. When the visit is done, a staff member brings the pet back outside to the owner’s vehicle.

The process is similar at North Haven Animal Hospital, said Nancy Howard, veterinarian technician, adding clients cannot enter the building except in the case of a euthanasia.

“People are very understanding about it,” Howard said.

St. Clair said they are asking pet owners to have flexibility and compassion during this time.

He said the initial reaction to the new procedure among owners was mixed. Some were understanding while others thought it was an “overreaction.”

Many veterinarian practices are limiting or prioritizing cases. Emergency appointments, or mandated vaccines like rabies, are still continuing.

St. Clair said they are running on “super zero” for personal protective equipment. He said they started with 50 surgical masks a month ago. Currently the staff member retrieving pets from vehicles is using an N95 mask, which is switched out every two weeks.

Howard and St. Clair said that pet owners should be extra cautious during this time, adding there is a need for further investigation into the possible transmission between humans and animals.

According to a statement Sunday from the American Veterinary Medical Association, there is no current evidence that the virus can spread from pets to people through skin or fur. The most recent case of confirmed animal infection includes a tiger at a zoo in New York that is believed to have contracted the illness from a zookeeper. The association recommends taking preventative measures to avoid person-to-person contact.

“I don’t personally see this changing for awhile,” St. Clair said.

lsellew@record-journal.com203-317-2225Twitter: @LaurenSellewRJ