As many of you are already aware, the veterinary profession is in crisis. Companion animal ownership has been steadily increasing over the past number of years, and the COVID pandemic has resulted in an acceleration in the adoption of new pets.

This is occurring while the veterinary profession is already experiencing a deficit in the number of qualified practitioners as well as support staff. To put this in some perspective, for the past two decades, the number of help-wanted ads for licensed veterinarians per year in Ontario has averaged between 300-500. In 2021, that number rose to 1600 while the number of new graduates in the province has remained stagnant at 120.

As a result, many clinics are struggling to maintain adequate staffing, and some after-hours emergency clinics have to close their doors due to a lack of staff.

At Western Animal Clinic, we are also experiencing a veterinary shortage. We look forward to Dr. Allen’s return from maternity leave in September! During this period, we would ask for your patience and understanding as we try to prioritize our most sick and critical patients to ensure that everyone can receive the care they require in a timely manner. Please plan to call several weeks in advance to schedule things such as routine annual vaccinations as there will be longer wait times for these appointments. Please also note that for the time being, Western Animal Clinic will not be accepting new clients so that we may focus our resources on all of our current patients. We will be happy to let you know when we are once again able to welcome some new faces.

Unfortunately, this staffing shortage has significantly affected the London Regional Veterinary Emergency and Referral Hospital. While they plan to remain open 24/7, as of December 6, 2021, they will no longer be accepting any walk-in patients. All patients requiring their care will need to be referred by a licensed veterinarian and will be seen contingent on capacity limits.

Therefore, in order to ensure that all of our Western Animal Clinic clients have access to veterinary care 24/7, we have partnered with Smart.Vet. During our regular business hours, please continue to contact us directly to arrange your pets’ care with us. For after-hours emergencies, please follow the steps below, and SmartVet will be available to ensure your pet receives the care they need.

  • To submit a request, please go to and click “I am a pet owner” and then “register.”
  • Once you’ve created an account, you can decide to send in a message or request a phone/video call. Please note that messages are meant for non-urgent cases and will be responded to within 8 hours of submission. If your concern is of a more urgent nature, please request a phone or video consult. (see below)
  • When you’ve submitted a phone/video request, a veterinarian will reach out to you as soon as they’re available. Please just wait for a call from 289-768-8784 – this may take more than 20 minutes when they’re experiencing high call volumes.
  • Once a request has been submitted, you can add additional notes or add images/videos to the consultation for the veterinarian’s reference.
  • If you have any issues during scheduling, you can send an email to [email protected].

At Western Animal Clinic, we feel that providing health care is both a privilege and a responsibility. We are striving to do everything we can to maintain access to care and to challenge ourselves to ensure that that care remains of the highest quality. We are also looking for innovative ways to meet the challenges currently facing us.

Thank you for entrusting your furry family members’ care to us. We are honoured to be part of their well-being and look forward to meeting these challenges together.

Dr. Rachel Thomas, Dr. Izabela MacDougall, and the staff at Western Animal Clinic

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