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During pandemic, veterinary clinics cope on a case-by-case basis

The COVID-19 pandemic has changed people’s normal routines, including how they take care of their pets and livestock.

Like medical facilities, Highland Lakes veterinary clinics are following strict guidelines for seeing furry patients.

Burnet Veterinary Clinic office manager Audra Lyon had this advice for pet owners.

“Call in advance,” she said. “We’re asking them to pull up to the office and call us. We’ll come out and take care of pets curbside.”

Dr. Garrett Craig of Horseshoe Bay Veterinary Clinic said he and his staff want to hear from pet owners beforehand to help everyone make a decision that’s right for the animal.

He noted his office is seeing “sick animals, injured animals, things that need immediate attention, if it’s something we feel like could potentially be a big problem.”

That includes rabies vaccinations that might be past due.

“We’re trying to keep all animals current,” he said.

Highland Lakes Veterinary Clinic in Marble Falls sent a letter to its clients explaining its new procedures, including more frequent cleanings. The facility is still open regular business hours but has adjusted operations.

“To ensure the safety of our clients and staff, we are now asking you to call us when you arrive at the clinic,” the letter states. “Upon the call, you will be asked to bring your pet inside the clinic to drop off, one at a time to maintain social distancing.”

The owner will then wait in their vehicle while their pet is checked out. Once the exam is over, the vet will call the owner to discuss the checkup.

Though exams continue, vet clinics are temporarily stopping some services.

The Horseshoe Bay clinic has closed its pet boarding service.

At the Burnet clinic, Lyon noted all elective procedures, such as dental cleanings, spay and neuter surgeries, and non-essential vaccinations are being rescheduled for later dates.

“They should be at home,” she said of the clinic’s clients. “They shouldn’t be at the clinic. If there’s a question on what’s essential, they can call us.”

The Burnet clinic also takes care of livestock and is applying the same standard of care: emergencies only. In one recent emergency, a goat was having trouble giving birth. Veterinarians went to the location to ensure the safety of the mother and the kid.

Stronger guidelines and stricter stay-at-home measures issued from all levels of government also factor into decisions by veterinary clinics.

“Do as they suggest,” Lyon said about government orders.

To ensure social distancing is maintained, the Burnet clinic is being staffed by fewer people, Lyon noted, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t busy.

“It’s a daily thing,” she said. “We work through our bookings slowly but surely.” 

Dr. Craig applauded pet owners who continue to find the balance between keeping their animals healthy and staying safe as everyone adjusts to COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

“Everybody’s been understanding and appreciative that we are available for their pets,” he said. “We’re trying to keep the doors open and trying to take care of their animals.”

Lyon added that, even in difficult times, animals need love, food, and good health.

“They’re like little humans,” she said.

For more on how COVID-19 is affecting the Highland Lakes, visit the coronavirus resources webpage.

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