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The COVID Nineteen


Key insights from leaders in the veterinary industryBowman ReportDecember 2020
The COVID Nineteen

1. Growing pet care market.

Any business with a role in the care of pets has an opportunity to expand earnings – everyone from veterinary practices, to pharmaceutical companies that provide products and services that support animal health and well-being, to the pet care industry that supplies food and toys. Distributors also play a large part because they help the flow of goods and services.

Matthew Salois, PhD, Chief Economist, AVMA

2. Care over cost.

The calls to our facility never really stopped. They went down a little bit at first, but it was like nobody really cared too much about how COVID might affect their finances. They just wanted their dog vaccinated or spayed or neutered.

Michelle Rivera, CEO, Pet Resource Center of Kansas City

3. Me, myself and you.

Now more than ever veterinary hospitals must embrace individual self-care, self-worth and self-confidence. We must surround ourselves with colleagues who understand why this is valuable, so the vision of team wellness will permeate the hospital.

Rebecca Rose, CVT, President, CATALYST VetPC

4. Marketable digital skills.

Now is a great time for veterinary professionals to increase their technology skills. Attend the technology sessions at educational conferences. Invite existing and potential technology vendors to conduct educational sessions via Zoom if they can't physically visit your practice.

Stacy Pursell, CEO, The Vet Recruiter

5. Caring for the food supply.

Acknowledging the veterinarians who take care of farm animals is crucial. People always have to eat. So, even in economic downturns, the importance of maintaining the health and welfare of our cattle and swine herds, poultry flocks and other farm animals never goes away.

Matthew Salois, PhD, Chief Economist, AVMA

6. Simplify telemedicine.

Many people incorrectly define telemedicine as video, when in reality, 95 percent of telemedicine is still going to be asynchronous two-way messaging and chat. If you look at human health, they've been doing telemedicine a lot longer and, outside of the pandemic, video telemedicine is still not over 5 percent of use cases.

Taylor Cavanah, CEO, PetDesk

7. Positive policy change.

Rescue groups tend to have strict criteria for who can adopt, but the requirements are a big obstacle for some people. Many organizations relaxed their fostering criteria during the pandemic and, anecdotally, about half intend to keep those relaxed criteria.

David Meyer, CEO, Adopt-a-Pet.com

8. Zoom (and doom?) interviews.

For veterinary practices, conducting in-person interviews nets a better outcome. Candidates will be working in that environment with those people under those protocols on a daily basis. In industry jobs where there's more flexibility and the opportunity to work from home, virtual interviews work well.

Stacy Pursell, CEO, The Vet Recruiter

9. Accelerated change.

In March, activity from our 2,200 veterinary hospitals increased in one week to a level we would expect from 3,500 hospitals. That helped us scale our systems to prepare for growth. Since then, we've added more than 100 hospitals, which underlines how important digital communication has become.

Taylor Cavanah, CEO, PetDesk

10. Tears of joy.

So many pet owners are so thankful for our services during this time. They cry in the parking lot during curbside appointments, saying they don't know what they would have done without us. That's amazing. It's so rewarding that we are fortunate enough to continue helping those most in need, especially now.

Michelle Rivera, CEO, Pet Resource Center of Kansas City

11. Well-being resume builder.

When employers post job listings, some include that they're looking for someone who has the capacity to bring the element of work-life balance to the team. COVID-19 may push us in the direction of more businesses valuing employees who appreciate a culture centered around work-life balance.

Rebecca Rose, CVT, President, CATALYST VetPC

12. Call pets a taxi.

The COVID-19 pet adoption boon continues. There are plenty of adoptable pets in shelters, just not in all shelters. More affluent, urban towns are experiencing a shortage of adoptable pets, while southern states, for example, are not. Our next issue to tackle is distribution of pets – getting adoptable pets out of the saturated areas into the low-availability areas.

David Meyer, CEO, Adopt-a-Pet.com

13. Pet evictions.

Rather than being concerned that more people won't be able to afford their pet's care, I'm more concerned with people being dislocated from their current living situation. People may be increasingly moving into smaller apartments or roommate situations where they're not allowed to keep pets.

David Meyer, CEO, Adopt-a-Pet.com

14. Demand for veterinarians.

Even before the pandemic, practice owners would say their biggest challenge was finding the right veterinarian to fill an open position at their practice. That challenge has certainly been compounded by COVID factors, but the situation is still not what an economist would call a shortage.

Matthew Salois, PhD, Chief Economist, AVMA

15. Maintain practice workflow.

The implementation of more digital services is not going to change a veterinary practice's workflow model. Practices do not need to hire a veterinarian who's just doing video chat calls all day long, for example.

Taylor Cavanah, CEO, PetDesk

16. Collaborate for higher employment.

As more pet owners face layoffs, the veterinary profession would benefit from focusing less on competition and more on elevating the industry as a whole. This will provide better access to pet care and keep veterinary employment rates high.

Stacy Pursell, CEO, The Vet Recruiter

17. Shut down, spruce up.

We've been planning to remodel our surgery unit but couldn't see how we could stop services to get it done. One silver lining of the pandemic is that we were able to use grant money to take on the remodel while services were suspended. With the revamped suite, our goal is a minimum of 70 surgeries per day.

Michelle Rivera, CEO, Pet Resource Center of Kansas City

18. Looming pet relinquishment?

When the shutdown started, fewer people were adding pets into our Rehome program, which facilitates peer-to-peer rehoming. Meeting people for pet introductions just wasn't safe. The Rehome numbers are back, and we expect them to continue growing.

David Meyer, CEO, Adopt-a-Pet.com

19. Ready for round 2.

The hard-hitting, fast-morphing COVID-related mandates have leveled out for veterinary practices; however, practice managers may need to anticipate that veterinary practices might be curbside for much longer than originally thought. Anticipate a marathon, not a sprint.

Rebecca Rose, CVT, President, CATALYST VetPC