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UT Veterinary Medical Center temporarily cutting back emergency service hours for small animals

The emergency services for the Small Animal Hospital will only be open between 8 a.m. and 10 p.m. daily and limited after hours until further notice.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — The University of Tennessee Veterinary Medical Center in Knoxville announced Friday it is temporarily cutting back its emergency service hours for the small animal hospital due to staffing shortages and high overnight caseloads.

The veterinary center said its emergency services in the Small Animal Hospital will now only be open between the hours of 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. daily. This will not impact the hours of the Equine and Farm Animal hospitals.

"In order to provide the highest possible care for our hospitalized patients, we have made the difficult decision to limit our emergency services overnight," it said.

The vet center said its team will continue to provide medical care for hospitalized animals overnight, but it is limiting new admissions overnight only to those with immediate life-threatening emergencies or critical care needs such as being hit by a car, bloat, or respiratory distress. Animals with urgent but non-life-threatening needs will be triaged at the front door by nursing staff, but will be told to contact their primary veterinarian as soon as possible.

The animal hospital called the situation "temporary."

"This has been a difficult but necessary decision made to provide appropriate patient care for hospitalized animals in our intensive care unit as well as to protect our veterinary medical team who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic to provide for our patients. This is a temporary situation. Thank you for understanding," it said.