Riverland veterinary clinic RivaPetz will close its doors at the end of the month after being unable to recruit a new vet.

Key points:

  • Berri-based RivaPetz will close after being unable to recruit a veterinarian
  • The regional vet attributes a national vet shortage to graduates leaving the profession
  • Dr Trewren remains worried about the industry and pet care as pet ownership grows

Owner and veterinarian Jenni Trewren has been the only vet at the practice since a second vet left unexpectedly before Christmas.

She will close the clinic on February 26 after more than 30 years’ operating in the Riverland.

Dr Trewren said it was a “horrendous decision” to make and felt that she was abandoning the local community.

The Berri practice has more than 5,000 animals on its books and four staff, which includes three nurses and a receptionist.

Dr Trewren has been commuting from Adelaide for the past seven years after moving from Berri to the city for family reasons.

She said while the resignation of a vet late last year was the catalyst for the business to close, it had been getting harder in the past five years to find staff.

“We’ve been actually advertising since June of last year for a new graduate to replace her (another vet) and we haven’t had a single application,” Dr Trewren said.

“There is just unfortunately a really significant shortage of vets everywhere.”

Fewer graduates remain in profession

Dr Trewren said she believed the issue was more about vets leaving the vocation than the number of students who graduated with veterinary degrees.

Pet ownership is growing since the pandemic yet the number of veterarians remaining in the profession is shrinking.(ABC South East SA: Kate Hill)

“We have an issue with retention in the profession — the graduates are not staying as vets in practice for very long,” she said.

“And with older vets in the profession wanting to retire I think we’re going backwards.”

Dr Trewren said there were efforts to address the issue, including the Australian Veterinary Association’s new graduate mentoring program, but she had concerns for the industry and for animal care.

“I fear for the future of the profession,” Dr Trewren said.

“More and more people, especially with COVID, now own pets.

“There are more pet owners than ever and we’ve potentially got fewer vets.”

She said saying goodbye to the animals and their owners would be difficult over the next few weeks, with some clients having used the clinic for their pets for more than 20 years.

She will continue operating and working at her Adelaide-based veterinary practice.