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Washtenaw County Needs Veterinary Technicians

It is probably impossible to count the number of pets in Washtenaw County, but it is possible to say that as of Tuesday, Washtenaw County will have one less veterinary emergency room. Ann Arbor Animal Hospital announced on Friday that it will permanently close its emergency room, which it has operated since 2004. The reason? The shortage of veterinarians and veterinary technicians.

If you have a pet, you may be uncomfortably aware of the growing unavailability of emergency animal care here. At one time, Blue Pearl on Packard was open around the clock. Today, it is open from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM, except on Thursdays, when it isn’t open at all. Ann Arbor Animal Hospital will still offer urgent care, as long as your need for care takes place between 8:00 AM and 7:00 PM Monday through Friday, or 8:00 AM – 2:00 PM on weekends.

Emergency Veterinary Hospital on Jackson Road is kind of the “last man standing” in the Ann Arbor area. But even that’s a gamble. When an emergency case comes in, EVH may have to close its doors to other emergencies due to staffing levels. Veterinary Emergency Service West in Plymouth is open 24 hours a day. You could also take your pet to MedVet in Commerce Township, Animal Emergency Center in Novi, or Blue Pearl in Southfield. Four Paws Wellness in Milan is available 24 hours a day, but they specialize in end-of-life care for animals. You may also be able to get overnight help for a veterinary emergency if you’re up for a quick trip to MSU’s Veterinary Hospital.

Why doesn’t WCC offer a real Veterinary Technician program

Veterinary medicine relies on veterinary technicians. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the demand for veterinary technicians is expected to grow by 20% through 2030. That’s astounding growth. It’s also an opportunity to provide badly needed technicians throughout Washtenaw County and the surrounding areas.

If you look at WCC’s course offerings, you will – in fact – find veterinary technician programs. But these aren’t offered on campus or even taught by WCC instructors. They’re part of a canned, self-paced, self-taught training package. If you have questions while you’re trying to work your way through the program, you can call a help desk.

Veterinary technician training is an example of a degree program that is badly needed in our community right now. This is the kind of hands-on, occupational education that our community needs, and our tax dollars could pay for. Instead of having a degree program led by full-time instructors in well-equipped classrooms, we have canned corn and twelve Vice Presidents. I can’t say for certain that this has anything to do with the critical shortage of veterinary technicians in Washtenaw County, but it certainly makes one wonder.

Photo Credit: Marco Verch Professional Photographer , via Flickr