Veterinary Specialists & Emergency Services cutting overnight hours

BRIGHTON, N.Y. (WHEC) — Starting Monday, the only 24-hour animal emergency hospital in the Rochester area will cut back its hours. It will close at 10 p.m. and re-open at 6 a.m. So if something happens to your pet overnight, you’re out of luck.

News10NBC took a look at what’s behind the sudden decision and talked to one pet parent to find out how she feels about the announcement.

This news doesn’t sit well with pet owners, because in an emergency, their only alternative is to either wait all night or drive more than an hour away for treatment.

When your pet needs medical care in the middle of the night, pet owners have turned to Veterinary Specialist and Emergency Services (VSES). For more than two decades it’s been treating cats and dogs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Late Wednesday afternoon, News10NBC learned that VSES will no longer keep overnight hours. Starting Monday, they will open at 6 a.m and close at 10 p.m.

We caught up with Mary Larkin, who had just rushed her diabetic dog there for an insulin attack.

"I’m here a lot, and it’s upsetting to know that I have to wait all night long to get up, to get to a vet in the morning. I think it’s tragic for animal lovers in the Rochester area," Larkin said.

Besides her dog, Larkin also has four cats. She’s relied on these vets for years.

"They’ve been the only option so you know I’ve had several dogs and several cats, and have all had to come here, and most of the time it’s not during the day. during the day I can take them to my own vet, but at night there’s no place to go," Larkin said.

The reason for the reduced hours? Lack of staff. The animal hospital released a statement saying in part, "Like many other hospitals across the nation, VSES had to change available hours starting January 17th due to a staff shortage, and growing demand for services. This is an industry challenge that is being felt in this community."

Larkin added, "It’s very upsetting to the animal community that they’re not going to be open. I hope something turns around soon."

If an animal needs emergency care, the nearest 24-hour animal hospital will soon be more than 60 miles away. There’s one in Orchard Park right outside of Buffalo. If you head east, VSES has hospitals in Syracuse and Cornell.

"It’s going to be a long drive especially if there’s snow, rain, bad weather, and of course, you’re upset anyways because your animal is sick," Larkin said. "So that will make it even harder."

VSES did say they hope to expand their hours back to normal operating hours, once they can do so.