Critter Crusaders responds to overnight service closure at Blue Pearl Pet Hospital in Cedar Rapids

Published: Mar. 15, 2022 at 5:35 PM CDT
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) - Monday night into Tuesday Blue Pearl Animal Hospital in Cedar Rapids had to close its emergency pet hospital.

They announced the sudden closure on its Facebook page. Leaving pet owners without an option in a time of crisis.

Critter Crusaders said it had to transport some animals to Des Moines to get overnight care. The non-profit that typically serves homeless animals said a shortage of veterinarians and vet techs is a real problem.

Critter Crusaders said it’s seeing a growing trend of less availability for 24/7 pet care.

”What we’re seeing is in Iowa City and emergency clinic closed, in the Quad Cities an emergency clinic went from 24/7 to a day care clinic. Where you have to be out by 5. This is happening all around the region. It’s not isolated to Cedar Rapids,” said Jan Erceg, Critter Crusaders Medical Coordinator.

Erceg said the demands of the job could be taking a toll.

Turnover for veterinarians is twice as high as for physicians, and vet techs have one of the highest turnovers for all health care positions - that’s according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.

”Vets that we’re talking to from all around Iowa basically are saying the same thing. They can’t hire because of the stress of the job. Especially in emergency medicine,” said Erceg.

Jessica Hill is studying to be a Vet Tech at Kirkwood Community College.

She knows that job opportunities will be plentiful when she graduates, but the stress weighing down some animal care workers could also impact her.

”I think that it will be difficult if this doesn’t get remedied soon because it’s going to drive more people out of the profession,” said Hill.

For concerned pet owners... Erceg says her best advice is to plan ahead in case that emergency service isn’t available.

”I would suggest calling Blue Pearl if you live in this area and that is your emergency clinic. Because they’ll have people answering the phone and directing you to where you need to go,” said Erceg.

Erceg said most likely those redirects would go to the Des Moines area.

Officials with Blue Pearl say the Cedar Rapids location will again be closed overnight Tuesday and Wednesday. They said after that starting the 17th they will open at 9 and have no closures, returning to 24/7 until the 31st. On the 31st they will be open from 7 am to 7 pm and then go back to 24/7 after that.

They did not say the reason for the closures.

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