By Kennedey Conaway
Baltimore Watchdog Staff Writer
Animal owners say they’re experiencing separation anxiety as they comply with new drop-off procedures at their local vet clinics.
Veterinary hospitals are instituting social distancing precautions during the COVID-19 pandemic for the protection of the animal owner and veterinary staff. Vet techs now pickup animals from their owner’s car while they wait for them to be treated.
“Some owners have a real hard time letting their babies go without them,” said Rick Paynter, a veterinarian at Owings Mills Veterinary Center. “They have extreme anxiety until we bring them back out to them.”
For some, this new process feels similar to picking up food from the local Chick-fil-A. Pet owners arrive at their appointment, park, and check-in by calling the front desk. The pet owner is identified by the model of their car, and the number pinned at the parking spot. A technician then picks up the pet from the vehicle and takes it inside to be treated by the vet.
Without their owners, some animals get overwhelmed in a new environment without the human they know best.
“Lola has separation anxiety,” said Christa Loving, a pet owner from Old Court Veterinary Hospital. “So it’s recommended she takes trazodone before her appointment.”
Lola is a one-year old German Shepherd who visits the hospital regularly for shots and check-ups. Loving prefers the normal way of visiting the hospital for the emotional safety of her dog.
“I was okay,” Loving said. “I was just nervous she was away from me for so long.”
Animals aren’t the only ones with anxiety, pet owners get anxious waiting for the veterinarian’s diagnosis and results. And curbside may take more time than an ordinary appointment. There are extra steps and more safety guidelines to enforce.
“What normally would take 15 minutes now takes 30, and what normally takes 30 minutes, now takes 45 to 60 minutes,” Paynter said.
Other pet owners like the new changes. Breon Williams, a pet owner from Northwestern Animal Hospital, took his puppy King to the vet for the first time. They had a smooth appointment without any problems. Williams was impressed by the behavior or his six-month-old puppy.
“I have no complaints,” Williams said. “It actually felt faster because I don’t have to get out of my car.”
This new process also calls for new equipment to enforce social distancing.
“We have embraced technology even more than before since COVID-19,” Paynter said. “Our x-ray technology allows us to email images to the client and we can discuss them with them.”
Vet hospitals are video chatting with pet owners using Airvet. This app allows veterinarians to discuss appointments and important information face to face with pet owners. It’s also used for surgeries to keep pet owners updated on how their animals are doing.