Ark Veterinary Hospital expanding urgent care hours to address need

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Pet owners are still dealing with the Greater Rochester Area’s lack of late-night emergency care.

News10NBC has talked about staffing shortages affecting animal care, but there’s some good news. Ark Veterinary Hospital is keeping its urgent care open for an extra two to seven hours on certain days to help fill a gap that’s desperately needed.

Due to the pandemic and a shortage of local veterinarians, some pet care centers had to cancel most of their late evening, or even their overnight hours forcing pet owners to travel out of town for emergency urgent care.

"I think it’s a wonderful idea because it’s very difficult to get veterinary care lately," said Patricia Devos, a pet owner, when she heard the news.

Practice Manager Tammy Byers-Smith said the extension starts on April 18.

"By extending our hours we’re gonna allow for more patients to come in. More clients to be able to call in and have their pets be seen for the day" Byers-Smith said.

Ark’s expanding its hours to 10 p.m. on Mondays, Friday, and Saturdays, and by seven hours on Sundays.

"Particularly because you know the other emergency clinic in Rochester is no longer open overnight so it’s allowing more evening appointments because we do see urgent care in the evening," Byers-Smith said.

Back in January, Veterinary Specialist and Emergency Services (VSES), which was the only 24-hour animal hospital in Rochester at the time, cut back its hours and started closing at 10 p.m. Although Ark isn’t equipped like VSES, Ark’s doctors will still play an important role.

"It will allow us to stabilize a lot of things, and do a lot of emergency care that they might not be able to see," Byers-Smith said.

The extended hours will also mean more doctors, including ones for exotic pets are available.

"We have hired another doctor who will be starting in the summer," Byers-Smith said. "So you know that’s going to increase our ability to provide more urgent care, and that person will be working those evening hours for us."

Lifting some of the worries for pet owners in the Rochester area.

"You never know what these guys can get into in the night and know that there’s somewhere you can take them that they’ll be cared for… is really important," said Elijah Fletcher as he was leaving following his dog’s quick visit at Ark.

Before you bring in your pet for emergency urgent care, Ark Veterinary Hospital suggests that you first call ahead to book an appointment. For now, it will not accept any walk-ins, and will, unfortunately, turn you away.