There are about 400 openings for vets across the state of Arizona according to a task force investigating the state’s shortage of animal doctors.
In rural areas alone, Arizona is down 100 veterinarians from last year, creating a pinch felt by both large and small animal owners, as well as the practitioners who serve them.
â€œLarge animal medicine has been hit especially hard by the shortage,â€ said Karter Neal, who serves as the supervising veterinarian for the Humane Society of Southern Arizona and is the stateâ€™s Rural Affairs Task Force coordinator.
Rural practitioners are shutting down the large animal sections of their hospitals because theyâ€™re not finding the vets to staff them. As older practitioners retire, younger vets are showing less interest in large-animal care, an indication of how the industry has changed through the years.
This shortage of vets means that some pet owners across the state have no access to basic care for their animals.
More on the shortage after the jump.
When people in La Paz are hit with an animal-related emergency, some are forced to travel long distances to find the nearest animal doctor, with many crossing into California for veterinary care. For horse owners, it can mean hauling sick or inured animals for three hours or more.
While a frustrating problem for both large and small animal owners, Neal said itâ€™s one that wonâ€™t be going away anytime soon. There is a need for more community practices in rural areas throughout the state, but those regions arenâ€™t drawing the veterinarians.
The problem is not only isolated to the Arizona, but it is also affecting the rest of the nation. The American Veterinary Medical Association estimates there will be a nationwide deficit of 15,000 veterinarians by 2010.