Anthony Segura, a staff member at Animal Care and Services, gets a kiss from Kramer. Kramer and Segura attended the San José City Council meeting Tuesday, where the council gave a commendation to Animal Care and Services for their 'extraordinary work' supporting animals during the pandemic. (Erin Cizan/Animal Care and Services)
San José is increasing the salary range for veterinarians for the second time this year, hoping to fill two months-long vacancies at its Animal Care and Services shelter.
The City Council passed the resolution last week, boosting the pay range for full-time vets by 12.36% and for part-time vets by 4.5%, effective September 4. New full-time hires also will receive a hiring incentive of $20,000, distributed across the span of a year.
Erin Cizan, spokesperson for the city’s Animal Care and Services Division, says the shortage of vets is rough.
“The way this has affected us is that we are prioritizing the care and the welfare of the animals in our care,” she said, “so it’s resulted in us not being able to offer community services such as low-cost spay and neuter.”
The center relies for medical services on many part-time veterinarians, in addition to the two full-time employees. With them the shelter has also cut back on its other services, such as the trap-neuter-release program for cats and its spay and neuter surgeries to prepare cats and dogs for adoption. Turnaround time for these services has slowed without full-time vets.
The problem extends beyond San José. According to the National Institute of Food and Agriculture, there’s a nationwide shortage of vets at a time when they’re in high demand.
“It's being driven by multiple factors,” Cizan said. “One of them has to do with older veterinarians. The baby boomer generation is retiring out of the practice.”
She also says there aren’t enough veterinary schools in the country and there are a limited number of seats in each school.
In February, San José increased salaries by 25% for full-time vets and 18.22% for part-time vets. Still, the only qualified candidate to submit an application then turned down the job because the pay was too low.