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Contributed photography / Megan Ferrell, Courtney Burchett, Vanessa Scott, and Dr. Tony Ashley with Jean the snake at Animal Clinic Downtown.

Health care isn't just for humans. Across our community, veterinarians and their staffs are tending to the needs of our furry (and slithering and flying and swimming) friends. When the shutdowns hit, there was no rest for vets.

Dr. Tony Ashley and his team at Animal Clinic Downtown and Animal Clinic East have made big adjustments to their practice, including curbside service for clients and their humans. Animals and their owners roll up, call in, and a member of the staff gets the pet from the car, takes it inside for an exam, and brings it back out when that's done.

"The issue there is it slows you down a ton," Dr. Ashley says. "The phone lines are full, and we tried to do stuff via text, but the phone lines and the front desk, as great a job as they do, is our slowest point."

Dr. Ashley treats "just about any animal you can carry in here," including his recent visit with Jean, a Burmese python who is 14 feet long and weighs 75 pounds. The snakes typically live about 15 to 20 years, so 12-year-old Jean is a mature lady snake, Dr. Ashley says.

The good news for cats and dogs during the pandemic is that, while they're apparently able to catch the virus that causes COVID-19, they don't seem to get sick from it, Dr. Ashley said. The bad news is that, as their humans start leaving home more after quarantine, dogs in particular are feeling pretty sad.

"Dogs love to have their pack around, and some patients had serious issues when their owners went back to work," he says. "They had pretty serious separation anxiety."

Visit the photo gallery of your friends and neighbors on the job at timesfreepress.com/essential to see how workers from across the region make sure business gets done during the pandemic.

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Contributed photography / Alexis Wallace at Animal Clinic East with Jinx the cat.
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Contributed photography / Veterinarian Melissa Mays was 38 weeks pregnant when she worked 13-hour days across the three-day Memorial Day weekend at VCA RIVER on Amnicola Highway.
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Contributed photography / Licensed Veterinary Medical Technicians Nicole McBay and Jake Cooper triage a newborn kitten at Middle Valley Animal Hospital.
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