By Nicole Nielsen

(CBSDFW.COM) – Business may be back, but the workforce isn’t.

It’s starting to create cracks in veterinarian practices, who are slammed with appointments trying to manage all the pets that were adopted during the pandemic.

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“There are not enough vets to go around,” said Dr. Stacy Eckman, an expert from A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine. “I think a lot of our practices are overwhelmed right now.”

Dr. Eckman says the shortages are being seen in both rural and urban areas, including here in Dallas-Fort Worth.

“We are all exhausted, not just us but our staff as well, and so we are seeing shortages industry-wide.”

Around North Texas, practices like Paws and Claws in Plano are buried in appointments, with wait times skyrocketing.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have been doubly busy,” said Dr. Shawn Messonnier, of Paws and Claws. “Prior to the pandemic, we would be booked a day or two out. Now us, and other veterinarians we are booked 1-2 weeks out.”

They attribute the business to the increase in adoptions, as well as the time people have spent at home, noticing things about their pets.

“This morning for example, we had a dental cleaning, several more appointments, an allergy consult, a cancer consult…” Dr. Messonnier said.

On top of the business strain, he says they’re also dealing with burnout.

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“We are down about 30% on staffing.”

That’s why Dr. Eckman says the career is in such high demand.

“In 3 years, there’s going to be a 33% higher demand for vets than there are now. So in 3 years, we are going to be in an even worse boat than we are now.”

According to a National Pet Owners survey about 65% of US households own a pet.

Last year, those owners collectively spent about $31 billion on vet care. That number is expected to rise another billion this year.

Leaving it as a career that Dr. Eckman says you should take advantage of.

“If you love medicine and you are compassionate and you love science, this is the profession for you, and there’s certainly a demand for it.”

Texas A&M currently has the only College of Veterinarian medicine in the state, but that will change next fall.

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Texas Tech University in Lubbock is opening their veterinarian school and will welcome their inaugural class.

Nicole Nielsen