Fur parents across the Franklin County region know how important access to their veterinarians is in a moment of crisis.

Veterinarians are among those who are considered essential workers during the COVID-19 or coronavirus pandemic, and have made adjustments to their practices to ensure the safety of themselves, their employees, the animals and pet owners.

The Missourian talked to area veterinarians about how their practices have changed and the precautions they are taking in the wake of the virus outbreak. Here is what they had to say:

Washington Veterinary Clinic

Owner of Washington Veterinary Clinic and the practice’s veterinarian, Dr. John Stoltz, said the practice is still operational, but running a little differently.

“Recently, the decision was made to not allow pet owners in the building for appointments,” he said. “We also are taking credit card payments over the phone or checks to limit public access in the building . . . Like a curbside vet service.”

There are special circumstances when pet owners will be allowed in the building for an appointment, such as when an animal has to be euthanized.

The practice is still seeing patients, but Stoltz is planning to delay routine appointments when possible. He is still doing surgeries.

“Other practices have started to cancel surgeries due to the tightening supply of gloves,” Stoltz explained. “I have an adequate supply (of gloves) to do them.”

Other precautions have been taken in addition to the decrease of foot traffic in the office. Stoltz said the office is being regularly and thoroughly disinfected and sanitized. Staff, along with Stoltz, are washing their hands often.

Dorothy H. Brinker, DVM

Dr. Dorothy Brinker said she is still seeing patients, but is not allowing pet owners in the office.

“We are requiring pet owners to stay in the car for their pet’s appointment,” she said.

With these ever-changing times, Brinker pointed out that every day “might be different” in how the practice operates.

Brinker is offering curbside-style vet appointments as much as possible.

She is not doing elective surgeries, such as spaying and neutering, at this time due to the shortage of gloves.

Brinker is taking extra precautions with disinfecting and sanitizing the office and has increased handwashing within the practice.

John R.

Kansteiner, DVM

Dorothy Kansteiner, office manger for Dr. John Kansteiner, explained that business has been a little slow since the outbreak, but precautions are being taken to help prevent the spread of coronavirus.

Pet owners are being allowed in the building, according to Kansteiner, but they do have to stay in the lobby for their pet’s appointments.

“We are doing one-on-one service with the animal,” Kansteiner said. “To help try and limit the exposure from the public in the office.”

All surgeries are still being done by Dr. Kansteiner, at this time.

Small animal visits, according to Kansteiner, have decreased since the outbreak, but the treatment of larger animals, such as horses, has remained the same.

The practice has taken extra cleaning precautions with sanitizing and disinfecting rooms and common areas.

Kansteiner said the practice is still accepting new patients.

Animal Hospital of Washington

Receptionist Chasity Otts stated that Animal Hospital of Washington is open and holding normal hours of operation.

Daniel Smith, DVM, is still allowing pet owners in the building and in exam rooms.

“Our exam rooms are very large and we have been able to maintain the proper social distancing with pet owners in the room,” Otts said.

The practice is now offering curbside service for those who do not wish to come into the building.

“We go and get the animal and bring them inside, and Dr. Smith will call the owner and discuss plans of care for the animal,” Otts explained.

Many people have been using the curbside service, she said

Items such as flea and tick medicine are being mailed.

Smith is still doing all procedures, including elective surgeries, at this time. 

Otts said the staff has taken cleaning procedures seriously.

“We have always done a lot of cleaning, but we have increased those efforts of sanitation (to prevent the spread of coronavirus),” Otts said.

Editor’s Note: The Missourian was not able to contact all veterinarian practices in the Franklin County area. Practices not included who wish to be should email dragottok@emissourian.com.