Veterinary practices nationwide will endeavour to remain open and operating throughout the COVID-19 national emergency period, according to Veterinary Ireland.
The profession’s national representative organisation issued a statement earlier this afternoon (Monday, March 23rd).
Dr. Conor Geraghty, veterinary surgeon and president of Veterinary Ireland said: “Our primary role is to protect animal health and welfare and also, by ensuring the health of the animals we keep and safety of the food we eat, to protect our nation’s health whilst maintaining the continuation and integrity of the food chain during this emergency.”
He explained that, for this reason, veterinarians are classified as ‘Essential Workers’ by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) and the World Veterinary Association (WVA).
He gave assurances that measures have been put in place to keep Irish veterinary services available to as near normal as possible whilst protecting the health of clients and staff.
“Many practices have split their teams into two or three core groups, with no physical contact between them, to ensure that if a member of one group contracts the virus and is isolating, then others can step in to ensure the practice remains operating.”
“Additionally, on a local level, veterinary practices are working with each other to ensure that if one has to close or reduce capacity for a period, then others nearby can and will step in.”
This, he added, may mean prioritising emergencies.
New strict rules
Veterinary practices have introduced new strict rules to comply with governmental advice regarding personal distancing.
Dr. Alan Rossiter, veterinary surgeon and past-president of Veterinary Ireland, said: “Our government and the health authorities are showing excellent and decisive leadership and the advice we are given must be adhered to by all of society in all places at all times.”
He outlined the Veterinary Ireland rules regarding attendance at companion animal practices which he described as simple but effective:
- All visits are by appointment only;
- Only one person should attend with their animal;
- Wait outside or in the car with your pet until called to avoid close contact in the waiting room;
- No handshakes – do not touch anyone;
- Card payments – where possible;
- If possible, owners are not to hold the animals when the vet examines them;
- Keep 2 metres distance;
- Wash your hands correctly.
“Before you go to your local veterinary practice, even if for medications or pet food, you should call first so that appropriate personal distancing can be observed in the reception and waiting areas.”
“These rules may be onerous but they are proportionate and necessary and they are to protect you, your families and our staff so that we can remain open. Don’t forget, a sick vet means no vet.”