WEBSTER GROVES, Mo. (KMOV.com) -- A veterinarian shortage is forcing a 24-hour St. Louis County animal hospital in the area to change its hours.

Webster Groves Animal Hospital and Urgent Care Center will be shortening its hours to 7 a.m. - 11 p.m.

They will continue 24-hour care for hospitalized patients and will be open seven days a week.

The hospital released a statement saying,

"This change will allow us to have more veterinarians available during our consolidated hours and better meet the appointment needs during these times."

Officials at the hospital say there is an industry-wide shortage of vets. The biggest cause has been the increase in the number of people who have pets.

The American Pets Products Association says the number of families owning pets has has increased from 56 percent to 68 percent over the last few decades.

However, there does not appear to be a shortage of people going to school to be vets. Mizzou says the class sizes of its veterinarian school have doubled; there is also a high demand for graduates.

The hospital says the changes to their hours are temporary.

Rural areas have been among the hardest hit by the shortage.

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