Keeping animals healthy seen as underlying key during economic downturn, pros say
Pet care in Grand Junction remains relatively recession-proof, according to local veterinarians and animal industry professionals, but according to one vet, the bubble just might burst.
“I think we all kind of expect it,” said veterinarian Tom Melzer with Orchard Mesa Veterinary Hospital.
Melzer said he hasn’t seen any specific examples at his office of a sagging economy forcing pet owners to neglect their pet’s health.
“I don’t think we’ve seen anything yet,” Melzer said.
“But, from what I hear, in other places people are going to lower quality foods ... not a good idea. Or, giving animals a couple more days to heal on their own or postponing routine vaccines or visits.”
Banfield, The Pet Hospital inside the PetsMart store in Grand Junction, has a steady stream of healthy and sick pets coming in for office visits.
“I think we’re lucky in Grand Junction,” said veterinarian Justin Seely with Banfield. “We’re still seeing lots of pets, and people are enrolling in wellness plans.”
The Optimum Wellness Plans at Banfield are packages of preventive pet health care that include services such as free office calls and exams, physicals and vaccinations.
“Regardless of economic times, you have to keep them healthy,” Seely said.
“They need the same vaccines no matter what’s going on in the world.”
Shawn Rice, owner of HBJ’s Grooming & Doggy Daycare on North Avenue, said she’s still busy grooming dogs but not like she used to be.
“Maybe I was too busy,” she joked.
Recently, she said she had four clients tell her that their husbands groom their dogs in between professional groomings.
“I’ve talked to a lot of people this year,” Rice said. “People love their pets so much, they’re going out of their way for their pets.”
Dog owner Dennie Talbott from New Castle brought her lhasa apso named Noodle to HBJ’s for grooming.
She said how she cares for her dog hasn’t changed during the recession, but in talking to friends and other pet owners, some people are cutting back on what they do for their pets.
“I’ve always been pretty frugal,” Talbott said. “I’m treating my pet this Christmas because I have friends and family coming into town.”
Penny McCarty, director of Mesa County Animal Services, said she has seen an increase over the last six months of people forfeiting their animals because the pets are sick or injured and they can’t afford the care.
Just a week ago, McCarty said an owner brought in more than six dogs because the owners were losing their house.
Animal Services is a last resort for pet owners who can’t afford to care for their animals.
However, McCarty said she wants people to drop off their sick pets early rather than later.
“There might be something we can do if we catch it early on,” she said.
She also stressed the importance of preventive care for dogs and cats to keep the animals from becoming gravely ill and incurring costly vet visits.