Canada’s veterinarians are not OK — overwork, pet owners, debt load leading to burnout

By Lyndsay Duncombe · CBC News · Posted: Apr 03, 2022 4:00 AM ET | Last Updated: April 4

Dr. Karissa Mitchell knew something was wrong when work took over everything.

She didn’t have the energy to cook meals, or call her family on the phone. It was the height of the pandemic, and the Nanaimo, B.C.-based veterinarian was not only putting in 12-hour days but absorbing the emotion that comes with treating sick animals and dealing with their often challenging owners.

She couldn’t take it.

“I was not able to be the veterinarian that I wanted to be, and I did burn out,” said Mitchell, 28. “It was just really frustrating to realize that I couldn’t do it anymore.”

Mitchell quit her full-time job as a vet in April 2021 and now fills in at different clinics, where she can control her workload.

“I love my job, but I am nervous for the future of my profession if no changes are made, especially with the vet [technician] and the vet shortages.”

COVID-19 exposed cracks in many parts of the medical system, including animal care, which was on the brink of crisis before the pandemic.

There aren’t enough veterinarians and staff to care for pets and livestock across the country, even as the number of pets — and the intensity of people’s attachment to them — grows.

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