You make our job more difficult than it already is.
As veterinarians, our lifework is to look after animals, big and small.
But with you around, it’s harder to do so.
Thankfully, we were considered essential workers during the circuit breaker. But certain vital medical procedures that were considered “elective” couldn’t be done.
Our hands were tied.
Some pet owners misunderstood and thought we refused to see their pets because we didn’t care about their pet’s well-being.
But we were only abiding by the safety measures. Government officials were auditing veterinary clinics; they were making their rounds to make sure we complied with the CB restrictions. There were conditions like mild skin problems and dental issues that we could not attend to.
We understood the rationale and importance of reducing human traffic. The last thing we wanted was for our vet clinic to become a hotspot for COVID-19.
Yet, the frustration was directed at us.
Because of CB, we started doing video consults. I discovered how difficult it was to assess an animal patient properly over a computer screen...
...without using a stethoscope to auscultate the heart and lungs.
...without using an otoscope to check the ear canals.
...without using my hands to examine the body and palpate the abdomen.
…without using my sense of smell even!
On a few video calls, I was looking at the patient through a camera phone. The camera was shaking so badly and the video quality was so poor, I almost burst out laughing.
It was such a comical scene and there was no way I could examine the patient properly.
But that was the compromise we needed to make for “non-urgent” medical conditions.
For me, CB reinforced the importance of checking an unwell pet in person.
Fortunately, during Phase 2, we are allowed to attend to most, if not all, medical conditions. While some pet owners still prefer the convenience of video-calling from their homes, it is better to bring the pet directly to the vet clinic.
Animals are unable to voice their concerns when they are unwell. Their symptoms may be misunderstood by their caregivers. Here are a few sad cases I saw during CB:
- A female dog had pus leaking from the genital area and needed urgent life-saving surgery. Her owner misunderstood the pus as diarrhoea due to tummy upset.
- A cat had a bloated abdomen and her owner thought she was pregnant because she was still eating well daily. Turns out, she had a growing tumour inside the abdomen.
- An elderly dog started to cough and his owner thought it was due to throat irritation. Sadly, the cough was a symptom of congestive heart failure.
Because of you, COVID-19, we also don’t have enough medical supplies. Even until now, some medications are out of stock.
We have a shortage of dog vaccines. Some pet dogs are due for their vaccine boosters but are unable to get them. They need their vaccinations to protect themselves from deadly infections. Hopefully, the next shipment will come soon.
Furthermore, our surgical theatre is almost fully booked every day.
Even during CB, our clinic continued to operate for essential surgeries, such as hip surgeries, tumour removals and many more. But due to sterilisation surgeries being considered “elective” then, there is now a long backlog of sterilisation surgeries to be done.
Because of you, we had to split teams during CB. Each shift was understaffed. Clients had to wait longer for their pets to be seen with frustration and anger often directed at us.
Even in Phase 2, we are still working in split teams. I haven’t seen my colleagues from the other team for the last 3 months. I am starting to miss them! As long as you are still around, this will continue.
Every day, we do our best with the unfortunate restrictions and limitations to ensure our patients get the care they need.
And we will continue to do so, even if you stick around.
A global pandemic may slow us down but it’ll never stop us.
It always warms my heart when our patients recover from illnesses and go home with their families.
This tough period has also brought our team closer together as we embrace the challenges.
Some pet owners even cheer us on by treating us to food and drinks, which I am extremely grateful for!
COVID-19, you make it very difficult for us to do our jobs, but we will continue to give our best.
Because our patients’ lives depend on it.