During the public health crisis, pet ownership rose substantially, and there are a few pitfalls that have come with it such as pet buyers unintentionally supporting irresponsible breeders and unmanaged challenging behaviours emerging in freshly acquired, under-socialized dogs.
Another problem that has reached crisis levels is a lack of veterinary care — and it's not a problem that will be easily solved.
Aside from a growing wave of pet owners in need of a veterinary care, veterinarians and veterinary technicians are also experiencing unprecedented levels of burnout and the number of new professionals entering the industry year-over-year has largely remained flat.
It's a bubble ready to burst, irreversibly damaging the health and well-being of professionals and leaving more and more pets without veterinary care.
With a problem this big, where should someone begin?
Increased personal responsibility as pet owners is a great place to start, and it begins before acquiring a pet. Choosing to adopt a homeless animal is the best way to acquire a pet. Sterilizing a pet ensures they will not contribute to pet overpopulation. Increased attention to pet safety like not leaving them in a hot vehicle, ensuring they are secured on harness and leash whenever outdoors, providing consistent exercise and nutrition, and more reduces the risk of the pet needing emergency medical care.
The OHS does whatever it can to reduce the burden on veterinarians and veterinary technicians. Pets do not become available for adoption until they have been sterilized, vaccinated, health checked, behaviour checked, and had any outstanding medical needs treated or identified. The OHS regularly expands its veterinary services to treat more complex needs in Ottawa's homeless animals and provides essential services like sterilization and microchipping to the community, making these services more affordable and accessible to Ottawa's pet owners.
The OHS is also investing in the future of veterinary technicians by offering work placements for veterinary students of Algonquin College and Collège Boréal. This hands-on experience helps better equip students entering the workforce to meet the challenges of their profession.
Action at a personal and local level can make a difference, but the shortage of veterinary care is an issue across the country. The Canadian Veterinary Medical Association is also exploring ways to alleviate the crisis throughout the country.
Pets will always need regular veterinary care, but there are ways current and future pet owners can help lighten the load and show compassion to those who save animals