Local veterinarians adjust to ‘new normal’ as COVID-19 changes how they work

Tracking Coronavirus

PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — The Tomahawk Animal Hospital in Prairie Village has been deemed an essential business. But they, along with many other clinics, are adjusting to “curbside care.”

It’s the new normal for Dr. Kent Kraus and his team. He or a technician walks out to the client’s car, gets the pet and its history.

Then they make their way inside without the owner.

“We treat it, do whatever we have to do,” Kraus said. “Then either Dr. Bower of myself will go outside, stay 6 feet away, and talk to the owner about what’s going on with their pet.”

Pet owners like Marsha Orrick, who need immediate assistance are grateful.

“It’s really great that he’s found a way to do this,” Kraus said. “It could be our ‘new normal’ for a while, but I’m appreciative of it and I know that all pet lovers have to be.”

Kraus admits the domino affect from COVID-19 has slowed business, but he’s determined to stay open. He has 10 employees and a lot of pets to think about, like O’Reilly — a blind and retired therapy dog.

Places like PetSmart are open to sell pet food and supplies, but voluntarily closed doors to the grooming salon for the next few weeks.

Elkhound Ranch Kennel in the Northland temporarily closed after the Animal Health and Safety Department said it had to shut down due to COVID-19.

Owner Adam Munsterman called the department back with questions and was told he actually can be open for boarding, daycare and grooming.

Even so, they’re only seeing about 15% of normal traffic.

“As an owner, it’s scary,” Kraus said.

Orrick worries money will affect more than just small businesses.

“I just hope people don’t abandon dogs because of finances,” Orrick said. “There are resources out there, and we don’t need more pets in shelters. We need them to stay in their home because it’s a stressful time!”

Kraus also does house visits. At this time, it may be difficult to get away from the clinic, but he said he will do what he can to help.

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