LAS VEGAS (KLAS)– People who adopted pets during the shutdown or were working from home and noticed issues with their pets may have discovered making an appointment to see a veterinarian means you may have to wait weeks.

It is predicted that in the next eight years the U.S will need nearly 41,000 additional veterinarians.

8 News Now talked to doctors who are on the frontline of the shortage who said any relief is likely years away.

“During COVID times things became very different for us as a profession,” said Dr. Dave Mason, Chief of Staff at the Las Vegas Veterinary Speciality Center.

The demand for specialty services spiked right along with the number of pets that were adopted during the COVID -19 pandemic. Veterinary medicine struggled with staffing for years, but the pandemic made it even worse.

Across the valley hospitals, clinics, and vet offices have reduced their hours and turned animals away because they are short-staffed. This crisis has affected all levels from general practice to specialists, but animal emergency rooms are the ones who have it the worst.

“There are people verbally abused, threatened with physical abuse because their animal can’t be seen fast enough or not regarded as a priority,” said Dr. Mason.

Owners like Briana Moger understand that getting in to see their favorite vet may now take time.

“I have a young puppy due for spay and I’m scheduling two to three months out just to get into surgery for a basic spay,” said Moger.

Dr. Susie Costa owns Spencer Springs Animal Hospital and says she has seen a 30% increase in her practice, but recruiting and retaining doctors has been difficult.

“You walk into a clinic and you’re expected to see at least 20-25 patients a day, that can be overwhelming. You also have walk-ins, you have emergencies,” said Dr. Costa.

Doctors like Costa are competing with corporate hospitals that may offer more money or even sign bonuses to new graduates.

“We have some that wanna work three days a week and that’s all they can give us and that’s fine,” said Dr. Costa.

While more Americans are getting pets, the number of people going into the profession cannot keep up.

Mars Veterinary Health predicts nearly 41,000 additional veterinarians will be needed to meet the needs of companion animal healthcare by 2030. For the full study, click here.

“We are all trying and we all want to help you, there’s only so much we can do,” said Dr. Mason.

As a short-term solution, people may start to see telehealth for animals. As a long-term solution, recruiting more veterinary students and opening veterinary schools are an option since Nevada does not have any.

According to the CDC, there is also a mental health toll, with veterinarians having the highest suicide rate of any industry.