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Sick pet? Most veterinarians are still seeing furballs during COVID-19, coronavirus pandemic

Veterinary practices have been deemed an essential business during the coronavirus pandemic, and are taking precautions to keep pets and their owners safe.

SCARBOROUGH, Maine — The silver-lining while staying at home during the coronavirus, COVID-19 pandemic is much more time with your pet. In some cases, your furbabies have not received this much attention since you brought them home, let's be honest. Even during the stress of unemployment or concerns over staying healthy to continue to rise, make sure your animal is still receiving the care it needs.

Dr. Kate Domenico is an emergency clinician at Maine Veterinary Medical Center in Scarborough. Dr. Domenico tells NEWS CENTER Maine many clients are confused about whether clinics or emergency care animal hospitals are open during COVID-19 disruptions. She believes about 95 percent in Maine are working in some capacity.

"They may have limited hours and are trying to limit the number of staff in their buildings because of the new mandates,” said Domenico.

Maine Veterinary Medical Center changed many of its protocols because of the mandates. It starts with a phone call to a client about possible exposure to someone with the new coronavirus, similar to visiting a physician.

If someone does show symptoms or is concerned about their health, a friend is recommended to bring the pet in. Like many other industries coping with change, veterinarians are offering curbside pickup, so to speak.

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“When they arrive in their car they contact us again, we have a technician go out and grab the patients and bring them into the hospital," said Domenico. "The client remains in the car. The doctor examines their pet and makes up a medical plan. We either do the treatment necessary, whether it be outpatient or inpatient then the pet will go home.”

For visits that require you to be there, they are allowing limited family, wearing personal protective equipment, to say their final goodbyes.

Maine Veterinary Medical Center has given its ventilator to Maine Medical Center to assist healthcare workers to treat patients with COVID-19. Staff also wears homemade masks to keep disposable equipment ready for donation. Even though veterinarians are seen as helping animals, their actions now, and throughout history, are mainly to protect humans.

"Veterinarians have always played an integral part in keeping humans healthy from zoonotic disease. We’ve always played a role that in helping pets stay healthy, but also helping prevent the spread of disease to human beings too," said Domenico.

If you have a sick pet, call your veterinarian for help, and if it is after hours reach out to a 24-hour emergency or specialty care hospital.

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At NEWS CENTER Maine, we're focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the illness. To see our full coverage, visit our coronavirus section, here: /coronavirus

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