The veterinary clinics in the Pierre and Fort Pierre area kept busy before the pandemic began, and business continues to increase despite COVID-19’s impact on other industries.
Virginia Trexler-Myren heads the All Creatures Animal Hospital on North Harrison Avenue in Pierre. She currently has three assistants, though that fluctuates between three and four. Trexler-Myren’s business before the pandemic was steady. Since the onset of the pandemic, it has mushroomed.
“Actually, it was busy. And, it is my impression that veterinarians across the country were busy,” Trexler-Myren said. “We’ve been busy, busier, since COVID. Many think it is quite busy. We were worried we would have to lay off staff, and if, anything, we’ve had to hire more.”
Coronavirus not only caused a customer increase but also led to difficulties in getting veterinary supplies.
“If anything, it was kind of hard to keep up with business and getting supplies,” Trexler-Myren said. “At least my supplier is letting me get only two boxes of 100 22-gauge needles per week. Masks, of course, for surgery were hard to get. Most of the drugs veterinarians use are the same as humans use in hospitals. Sometimes they are exactly the same.”
But she isn’t quite sure why veterinary business increased since COVID-19 began. Trexler-Myren found one theory is people had more time with their pets.
“They appreciated, when they couldn’t go out, their pet was still there for them,” she said. “If they were working from home and their pet is right there, they might notice any problems that could be going on. Many times they were catching up on routine care — sometimes, it was illness-related.”
Despite the looser restrictions since the pandemic’s height, business remains high. Trexler-Myren recommended people plan accordingly for pet health care given the increase in business.
“Regular routine care is always good to keep up with — check to see if a condition hasn’t snuck in there,” she said. “Call early. It’s really important. If you need shots in November, call now and get an appointment. Deal with it — a regular thing or an illness — sooner rather than later.”
Trexler-Myren’s practice focuses on companion animals and exotics, such as ferrets and bunnies. She also works with wildlife animals.
“I do a lot of wildlife, from animals being brought in by good samaritans or conservation officers,” Trexler-Myren said. “They find something injured, and they bring it to me. I do more eagles than parrots. It’s difficult but very rewarding — though it doesn’t actually pay for the groceries.”
But COVID-19 isn’t impacting all veterinarians with large increases.
Nancy Ketteler said Ketteler Vet Services, which she and her husband, Murray, run in Fort Pierre, hadn’t seen an increase but had remained busy as they always have. But unlike Trexler-Myren, the Kettelers specialize in large animals on farms, which means making plenty of ranch calls.
“We treat mainly cattle, but some horses,” she said. “We do some small animals, but a limited amount. We don’t have a lot of people coming into the clinic, actually.”
At Bow Wow Meow Pet Clinic in Fort Pierre, Laura Carda said she already has one new person and might need to hire another person. She said her then-only employee retired during the pandemic.
Carda’s one-doctor clinic performs spays and neuters, teeth cleaning, dog and cat shots, euthanasia, microchipping and home delivery of pet food and medication.
“Business got busier. Maybe close to double the patient visits. Probably because people were home more with their pets and had time to bring them in,” Carda said.
Like Trexler-Myren, Carda found owners pay attention to their pets, but they were likely paying even more attention because they were home more. She said many of the visits were for routine work.
But that is only keeping her busy, like other veterinarians around the area.
“Business is still good, robust,” Carda said.