Pet owners seek alternatives for emergency care amid VSES closure; telehealth among the options

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There may be a new option for pets that need emergency care.

Veterinary Specialists and Emergency Services in Brighton used to be open 24/7.

It’s been scaling back its hours over the last year and recently announced it’s closing for good on Nov. 27.

News10NBC’s Bekka Fifield spoke with pet owners who are now looking for alternatives.

It’s hard to know what to do with when your pet isn’t feeling their best – especially when it’s outside of business hours. But an online company may help fill that gap.

Jodi’s got a lot of medical issues. They sometimes flare up and she needs to be seen by the vet.

“Three legs, no sight, no lower jaw, no teeth. And as time has gone on, Jodi has developed other issues as well. She has a very enlarged heart, she’s in kidney failure, she has glaucoma in her left eye, she has edema,” owner Laurie Lomonaco Newman said.

Just two weeks ago, ,Jodi started gasping for air, and Lomonaco Newman took her straight to the vet, which was open.

But what if this happened in the middle of the night?

“I would have been in the car driving to Orchard Park. I don’t know if Jodi would have made it to Orchard Park and that’s a huge concern,” Lomonaco Newman said.

One day, another dog, Lucy was lethargic and vomiting, and Lisa White’s vet wasn’t open.

So they had to take her to the 24-hour emergency vet, where she got better — but White questions what she’ll do when VSES is gone.

“It’s pretty scary, it’s like not having a hospital that’s open for your kid or for you if you were to need it,” she said.

That’s where Dr. Shadi Ireifej’s VetTriage can help.

“If we can have veterinarians available for their pet owners at their convenience wherever they’re located — no matter what time or species, all around the world. That will help with access and spectrum of care,” Ireifej said.

VetTriage is an online tele-vet service that pet owners can access anytime, anywhere for an emergency telehealth vet visit.

“VetTriage is able to decide which case warrants that level of emergency care, which we find 80% do not; we can help give pet parents peace of mind, advice and monitoring instructions to stay home and avoid that emergency visit,” Ireifej said.

Both Laurie and Lisa say they would turn to a service like this because they love their dogs just like their own family, and would do anything it took to make them better again.

“They’re family to us, and they’re going to get the medical care that they need time after time again to help them. Granted, Jodi is sixteen and a half years old but she’s not ready to go yet,” Lomonaco Newman said.

If you’re looking to see what VetTriage is all about, you can check it out here.