SPRINGDALE, AR (KNWA/FOX24) — An emergency veterinary clinic in Fort Smith has shut down due to COVID-19, and now pet owners are having to go elsewhere and wait hours to have their pets cared for.
“We didn’t really sleep much because we didn’t know what was going on,” said AnneDella Hines, cat mom to a 3-year-old orange tabby named Lioneld.
“Our cat was having some digestive issues and we had an appointment set for Monday with our regular vet,” she said. “Then on Sunday he started this weird twitching stuff and he wasn’t his normal self.”
So Hines decided to take Lioneld to the Animal Emergency Clinic in Springdale, only to find the parking lot full of people.
“When we got in and tried to drop him off, they said that because the Fort Smith location closed, it would be a seven to eight hour wait before the doctor could see him,” she said.
It end up being being about a 10 hour wait. Hines said had Lioneld stay at the clinic overnight. They got a call at 5:30 a.m. that all his tests came back clear, so they picked him up early in the morning.
“I think this weekend we set some personal records for the most triage patients we had ever seen in a shift,” said Stacey Storey, Practice Manager for the clinic in Springdale.
Storey said they are always the busiest on weekends, and they have staff working 24/7 to help pets throughout the night. She said they just ask for patience, understanding and compassion from people.
“I promise that your pet will be triaged and taken care of,” she said. “There may be a longer wait for the less severe cases, but if your pet is in critical condition or has a life threatening illness, we’re going to take care of it immediately.”
Hines said she feels lucky this was just a pet health emergency and not a human one. She doesn’t blame the Springdale clinic for the wait time. She said this situation just goes to show that COVID-19 is impacting health care on all levels.
“I just thought that it was a great representation of how COVID can throw everything off even in an emergency when you need help, you’re going to be looking at longer wait times,” she said.
We reached out to the Fort Smith clinic over Facebook and did not hear back.
Hines said Lioneld is doing better and that they’ll continue to monitor him for any other abnormal behavior.