ST. LOUIS COUNTY, Mo. ( - Veterinarians are swamped and scrambling to care for an increasing number of sick pets.

With more and more people getting animals during the pandemic, owners say it's harder to get appointments.

Most appointments are curbside drop offs at County Animal Hospital. Their employees tell News 4 that it takes more time and they're already answering over a hundred calls a day. It's come to the point where sometimes they have to turn people away.

“We've been seeing a lot of new clients, it just seems like it never calms down,” said Front desk supervisor Ashley Sands. She has worked as a receptionist for five years and says the pandemic has the office busier than it's ever been.

 “It has been extremely crazy, more so than before COVID hit. Since everybody is home now seems like they're getting puppies and kittens,” said Sands.

While three receptionists field over a hundred calls a day, Doctor Michael Vitucci is in exams and surgeries for nearly 10 hours, trying to see as many pets as possible.

“Oh my gosh we are slammed, double books, we have 7-8 drop-offs each day, we have four vets working full time,” said Doctor Vitucci.

But because of high stress and burnout, Vitucci says employees are often overwhelmed and the office is short-staffed. Five employees have left since the pandemic started.

“Veterinary medicine has the highest suicide rate of all professions, we have compassion fatigue. It's been extremely busy and overwhelming and we kind of just have to take it day-by-day,” said Doctor Vitucci.

As the employees care for animals and as well as their own mental health, they're reminding pet owners to have patience.

Copyright 2020 KMOV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved

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