Pet hospital emergency room closures impact animals in crisis

Published: Jan. 31, 2023 at 5:45 PM CST
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CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa (KCRG) -Cedar Rapids only 24/7 pet hospital has been closing it’s emergency room multiple times a month. The closures are having an impact on area pets.

”BluePearl in Cedar Rapids is an absolutely fantastic facility,” said Jan Erceg, Medical Coordinator at Critter Crusaders of Cedar Rapids.

Critter Crusaders helps shelter and rescue dogs in need of advanced medical care. They often take animals to BluePearl in Cedar Rapids. Erceg says when that emergency room closes, they have to drive two hours to the Des Moines location. She believes the closures are due to a lack of veterinarians.

”People are losing their pets for lack of emergency room care,” Erceg explained.

Nicole Lutz of Victor lost her 11-year-old cat Piper last week.

”Took him in and then he was diagnosed with diabetes which in cats is pretty fatal because they don’t show it and then they automatically show it and he already in ketoacidosis at that point,” Lutz said.

Piper needed 24/7 fluids, but BluePearl in Cedar Rapids was set to be closed all weekend. Lutz made the difficult decision to have her pet put down.

”I just couldn’t imagine putting him through that driving two hours with him just needing that emergency care and not being able to get it,” said Lutz.

It’s one of many stories Critter Crusaders has heard. And with each closure pets in emergency care have to relocate, which can be risky. Erceg says something needs to change.

”There is a shortage of doctors but how can we get these veterinarians and vet techs into our area? How can we get them to want to come here and work and live in the community,” Erceg asked.

They’re questions she hopes the community can address together.

We spoke with the Executive Director of the Iowa Veterinary Medical Association about the widespread vet shortage. Dr. Randy Wheeler says there are only 32 colleges of veterinary medicine in the United States and they can only take so many students.