Pet adoption boom leads to vet backlog, shortage in Hawaii

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — Families grew in numbers nationwide over the course of the pandemic, but a predicted baby boom was a bust.

Families instead decided to adopt a pet.

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A total of 12.6 million new pet owners are now creating a backlog at veterinary clinics.

The reasons have mostly been spending more free time at home and working from home, according to Dr. Whitney Pressler from Alii Animal Hospital in Kakaako.

“We’ve seen tons of new puppies and kittens, there’s been an incredible number of new adoptions,” Dr. Pressler said.

More adoptions mean a greater need for care at veterinary clinics across the islands.

“We’ve been seeing lots of cases, all of the animal hospitals are busy and I certainly know of many locations in Kailua who are no longer taking any new clients,” Dr. Pressler said.

Alii has been double-booked, which is part of the reason that they are expanding.

“We are opening up a second location to try to facilitate more appointments available for people because it has been so busy,” Dr. Pressler said

Those appointments are needed, especially for young animals.

“It’s so important that puppies and kittens stay on that schedule to prevent our preventable diseases so their early vaccinations are critical for maintaining their health,” Dr. Pressler said.

With so many adoptions over the past year, Hawaii has not seen a wave of pet returns when compared to places on the continent.

“It’s not been an issue for us thus far. Fortunately, we are at a very good place,” said the Hawaiian Humane Society.

Dr. Pressler says that is also true for Alii Animal Hospital.

“We always worry any time there are a lot of new adoptions that’s a common problem but on my side of things I haven’t heard anything about that,” Dr. Pressler said.

The problem now is finding staff.

“We’re short staffed both with veterinarians as well as veternary technicians, veternary assistants, receptionists, I think all of the hospitals on the island are in need of veterinarians,” Dr. Pressler said.

The adoption boom, and the need to fill spots, has veterinarian and vet tech positions slated to become the fastest growing occupation in the coming years.

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