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Pandemic pet surge keeping Omaha veterinarians extra busy

As more people stayed home during the pandemic in the past year, shelter animals were adopted in record numbers.
Published: Jul. 7, 2021 at 12:11 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - As more people stayed home during the pandemic in the past year, shelter animals were adopted in record numbers. Caring for all of them has proved a new challenge for Omaha-area vets.

At the Best Care Pet Hospital’s L Street location, they see it all: everything from St. Bernards to Sand Boas, even birds in casts.

Their saying is, ‘If it can fit through the door, they’ll treat it.’

But lately, they’ve been inundated with new animals.

“Since last March, we’ve been extremely busy,” Kelli Belt, a vet tech said.

Dr. Michael Bosilevac has been a veterinarian for 30 years now, he’s never seen anything like it.

“We call it a ‘puppy pandemic,’ ” he said. “A lot of people are home, so a lot of people got new pets — and a lot of puppies.”

While it’s good for business, his office — like many others around town — is struggling to keep up.

“Normally in our business, we have to have a 10% increase in puppies and kittens to survive. So last year was 20%,” the veterinarian explained.

That’s on top of the pets that people already had pre-COVID.

Best Care hired a new vet to help with the demand, but the wait times to get an appointment are longer than Dr. Bosilevac has ever seen.

“We’re out almost three weeks. And we’ve been seeing that with our emergency centers, just overwhelmed with things. We’re hoping to get that down to a week,” he said.

Thankfully, pet owners are understanding.

Dr. Bosilevac is happy that animals in need are finding homes and hopes to use the pandemic as a learning experience.

“You will be seen. It may not be the day that you want to go, but you’ll be seen,” he said.

Even though they’re overwhelmed with new animals, Dr. Bosilevac still recommends people head to the shelter and bring home a new pet.

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