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Greater need for veterinarians as baby boomers retire

As more pet owners have made pet health care a higher priority more veterinarians are needed.

PHOENIX — Let’s be honest, many of us treat our dogs or cats like our children – providing the best care to keep them healthy and happy.

According to the American Veterinary Medical Association, in 2019 Americans spent more than $29 billion on veterinary care.

Now, there is a greater need for veterinarians as more and more baby boomers are retiring.

It takes a special person to fulfill our furry friends’ medical needs. They can’t exactly tell us why they don’t feel good or what happened.

“Have to have that compassion for both the pet and the people,” said Dr. Melissa Thompson, Vice President of Medical Operations for the Arizona Humane Society.

Older veterinarians and vet techs are retiring just as more pet owners put a higher priority on health care.

“All throughout the state and throughout the country are feeling the squeeze of not having enough veterinarians to fill those spots,” said Dr. Thompson.

Filling those spots is not going to be easy. There are only 28 veterinarian schools in the country. Arizona now has two – Midwestern University located in Glendale and University of Arizona’s College of Veterinary Medicine in Tucson.

A four-year doctorate degree in veterinarian medicine can run upwards of $200,000 to $300,000.

“One of the benefits of working at a nonprofit like the Arizona Humane Society is there are some public loan forgiveness programs if you do work for a nonprofit,” said Dr. Thompson.

Dr. Thompson who has worked in private practice says there are plenty of job opportunities in the veterinary profession. AHS is currently looking to hire four veterinarians and support staff. They also offer on-the-job training for those interested in being a vet tech. 

“I think it’s the best profession in the world. Just knowing you make a difference in both a animal and humans life – it’s a fulfilling profession. So, there is nothing like it,” said Dr. Thompson.