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Rochester's new emergency veterinary hospital urges patience ahead of Thursday opening

ladrador dog laying down while a person in scrubs gives them a vaccine
Stock photo: A labrador getting a vaccine.

Rochester's first nonprofit veterinary hospital is opening this week, with great anticipation among local pet owners who have had no access to overnight emergency service for more than a year.

"It's been really refreshing to see how important people think that something like this is, and how much they want to see us succeed," said Dr. Bruce Ingersoll, one of the co-founders of Rochester Emergency Veterinary Services.

The new venture is scheduled to open Thursday night at 1150 University Ave. near Culver Road. The hospital will be open 24 hours on weekends, and from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. on weekdays. But until more veterinarians are on board, it's possible that a shift or two will go unfilled.

For now, Ingersoll is the hospital's only full-time veterinarian. There are two two-part time vets, and another 6 to 8 local veterinarians have agreed to cover some shifts while still working their own full-time jobs.

Hiring has been slow, with a nationwide shortage of veterinarians — especially those who are qualified to practice emergency medicine.

"We're trying to pull from this extremely small pool," Ingersoll said, "and we're trying to outshine practices and hospitals."

While the hospital isn't offering large signing bonuses like some for-profit practices have, he thinks their core mission will be a greater draw. Ingersoll and his partners are also hoping to build relationships with New York veterinary schools to establish internships and attract future veterinarians to the Rochester area.

Ingersoll expects the nonprofit will be able to add more veterinarians over time. For now, though, he is urging patience.

"There are going to be long waiting periods," Ingersoll said. "We may still be sending you to Buffalo or Syracuse because we cannot handle the capacity, so patience is gonna be the key for everyone to get through this."

As of last week, organizers had received roughly $125,000 in community donations. They anticipate additional, major donations once their nonprofit status is official.

Beth Adams joined WXXI as host of Morning Edition in 2012 after a more than two-decade radio career. She was the longtime host of the WHAM Morning News in Rochester. Her career also took her from radio stations in Elmira, New York, to Miami, Florida.