Even in corona times, animals need medical care. We spoke to a veterinarian from the west of the country about his work. He wanted to remain anonymous.
When I arrive at the animal practice, a man is sitting on the wall with his dog. The waiting room is empty. You can hear a dog barking. I am led into a treatment room by the veterinarian (name of the editor known). In the interview we are sitting at a distance from each other. We both wear a face mask. « That is now necessary, » explains the veterinarian. His practice was opened in 1985. « Five people work here, » he says. Only pets are treated. Most patients, about 90 percent, are dogs and cats. The rest are so-called pets such as rabbits, guinea pigs, turtles, etc. “We rarely treat birds. We transfer them to a bird specialist, ”said the animal doctor.
The corona pandemic also affects its area of activity. He was informed by the « Collège vétérinaire » about the new rules of conduct. In any case, he expected changes in connection with the disease, said the veterinarian. Only emergencies are accepted. The appointments, by appointment, are to be reduced to a minimum. Only one person is allowed in the waiting room and in the treatment room. Wearing a mouth guard is mandatory. As of March 16, all safety regulations had already been applied in the practice, says the veterinarian.
How is an emergency defined now? “These are therapies and treatments that are essential to life.” Vaccinations, for example, are not one of them – and accordingly are not currently being carried out. Many animals are currently being treated with bite injuries. But there would also be many animals with foreign bodies (granules) in the upper respiratory tract or eye injuries. Obstetrics continue to run normally, however, as does the treatment of diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease or cancer.
The pet owner usually contacts the practice by phone and describes the problem. The veterinarian then decides whether to make an appointment or not. The practice is open from 8:00 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. Home visits are only made in an absolute emergency and only after consultation. Since only emergencies are accepted, there are significantly fewer customers than usual, explains the specialist. Seniors’ pets, many of whom belong to a coronavirus risk group, would often be put into practice by their children or grandchildren. Two doctors were always present when treating the difficult animals. The presence of the animal owner in the treatment room is permitted, but he must maintain a distance of at least two meters from the other people in the room.
When it comes to hygiene, nothing is left to chance. After each patient, the doorknob, the payment terminal, the keyboard of the PC and all other objects used are disinfected. All employees in the practice also wear face masks and gloves. « We were only supplied shortly before the pandemic and therefore we have enough material. » In addition to the surgical masks, homemade face shields are also used. There is even a face shield available. There are no major delivery problems with the drugs either. Merely disinfectants were rare among wholesalers at the beginning of the health crisis, the veterinarian said. Now the stocks are well filled again. The virus crisis also has personnel consequences: two employees belong to a risk group and now stay at home.
In order to avoid contact between the animals – for example dogs and cats – the furry patients in each treatment room are let into the practice through one door and let out through another. « That helps us now with the corona crisis, » says the veterinarian with a laugh. Contact with customers is normal, he explains. People would show a lot of understanding and accept longer waiting times. The animal doctor believes that the return to normal is still a long way off, since the resumption of all economic activities entails a long list of demands on society and the state. At the same time, he hopes that solutions to the climate crisis and the common good economy will not be neglected.