The 'huge challenges' faced by vets throughout coronavirus crisis
- Credit: Charlotte Bond
A Suffolk vet has revealed the "huge challenges" of working through the coronavirus pandemic - including having to tragically put down pets in people's cars.
Sally Mitchell, practice director at Melton Veterinary Surgery, only started in her role weeks before the first lockdown last year.
With the surgery having employed more members of staff throughout the pandemic, Covid-19 restrictions have meant she has never seen some of her colleagues without a mask on.
Mrs Mitchell said the service has remained open since last March, but is restricting the number of people that are allowed inside the practice.
That has meant some owners have had to go through the heartbreaking experience of having their beloved pets put to sleep in the boots of their cars.
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However, Mrs Mitchell said the majority of the surgery's clients have been "so understanding" about the need to reduce the risk of spreading Covid-19.
She said: "We have not closed at all as we are an emergency service. We have to provide 24-hour care.
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"For safety, we are trying to encourage people not to come out of their cars. The biggest challenge has been keeping the team safe. If we are not safe, neither are our clients.
"There have been such huge challenges and so many practicalities in keeping the service Covid-safe. It's not how we want to work, but we have to do it.
"We have to be very careful as many of our clients are quite elderly. We have to do what's safest for them, but it's really tough.
"It really makes quite a difference if people can come in and see their pets. We have been so lucky - our clients have been so understanding and been incredibly kind."
Despite the challenges, Mrs Mitchell said the surgery and other practices could learn lessons going forward.
She emphasised the importance of valuing the work of her colleagues, but also said the pandemic has helped her realise how key pets can be to someone's wellbeing - especially if they live alone.
She added: "The first lesson I have learnt throughout coronavirus is to value my staff - they have been amazing.
"Secondly, we have seen how important animals are to their owners. Some of them are isolated, so pets are so important."