Inflation dogs Manitoba vets, shelters, pet owners alike

Inflation isn’t only affecting humans in Manitoba: the cost of food, care and veterinary services is forcing pet owners to make some difficult decisions about their furry companions.

Manitoba Veterinary Medical Association (MVMA) executive director Corey Wilson told 680 CJOB’s The Start that supply-chain issues with animal medicine during the pandemic have had a lingering impact — but the biggest issue is the province’s shortage of veterinary health professionals.

“We did a brief survey about two and half years ago now that said we were short about 70 veterinarians and roughly the same number of veterinary technologists,” Wilson said.

“That number’s quite high — we only have about 450 veterinarians in the province right now.”

The dearth of veterinarians, he said, results in fewer options for care — plus vets are also feeling the financial crunch.

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“These are people that are running businesses that need to invest in the equipment they’re using,” he said.

“When we think about it, when there’s an emergency, that clinic that we’re going to has an X-ray machine, they have anesthetic machines, and all of these other types of things that we see in emergency facilities.

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“So they’re actually each running their own individual little hospital, which is really quite expensive to run.”

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Wilson said there are options out there for pet owners to sign up for pet insurance or subsidized services to help with the burden.

Vet clinics aren’t the only pet-related businesses struggling in 2024.

Carla Martinelli-Irvine of the Winnipeg Pet Rescue Shelter told The Start her organization, which is at capacity and facing rising costs to maintain the shelter, has seen an increase in calls from desperate pet owners.

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“We’ve definitely seen an uptake in phone calls, asking if we could help financially, first of all — which we’re not able to do — and secondly whether we are able to take (pets) in, because they just can’t afford to keep them anymore,” she said.

Martinelli-Irvine said she sees both sides of the issue — the stress on pet owners who aren’t sure whether they’ll be able to care for their pets, and from the vets’ perspective, the price of medicine, food and wages to pay staff are also going up.

“The rising costs of vet fees — definitely it’s impacted our shelter hugely,” Martinelli-Irvine said.

“But I also do give recognition to the vets. They have to raise prices because their prices are being raised on them.”

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