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KNAU and Arizona News

Page’s only animal clinic is closing leaving the city an hour’s drive to the nearest vet

Page Animal Hospital
Page Animal Hospital
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The Page Animal Hospital is set to close at the end of April leaving the city and its surrounding area more than an hour's drive to the nearest vet.

At the end of the month, the only veterinary hospital in Page will close, leaving the city more than an hour away from the closest animal clinic. It highlights a statewide veterinarian shortage especially in rural areas.

The Page Animal hospital will close its doors in the coming weeks marking the first time in a half-century that the city will be without a vet. It’ll force pet owners and ranchers to drive 70 miles to Kanab, Utah, or more two hours to Flagstaff for more involved care or emergency services. A staffing shortage coupled with higher demand is to blame, and it’s most acutely being felt in rural areas of the state along with animal shelters.

Dr. Jerry Roundtree is the former owner of the Page clinic and recently came out of retirement to help.

"Page is large enough to need two full time veterinarians and without having one it’s just a big loss—people are worried. I think it’s on a crisis level," he says.

Roundtree says Baby Boomer vets, like himself, are rapidly retiring and there aren’t enough new graduates to replace them. Another factor is the nearly $200,000 in debt on average that vet school graduates rack up, which often draws them to the higher salaries and amenities of cities.

The Arizona Legislature is considering a bill that would create $100,000 in loan forgiveness for vet school graduates to help close that gap. To qualify, new vets would have to work in the state for four years with half of that spent at a rural practice or nonprofit animal shelter. The state Senate passed the bill with bipartisan support but it’s yet to receive a House vote.