Animal hospital opening in Onalaska next summer to be first in county in 30 years

ONALASKA, Wis. (WKBT) — A new animal hospital will open in Onalaska next summer — the first in La Crosse County in 30 years.

Animals at homes and in shelters are waiting to be treated as a veterinarian shortage continues.

“They’re waiting two to three weeks for minor procedures, sometimes even an emergency it can be a struggle to get in,” said Erin Olson, community engagement director of Coulee Region Humane Society.

The society requires all pets to be scheduled for a wellness visit within two weeks of adoption. New owners are struggling to find appointments within that timeframe and, more often than not, have to ask for a deadline extension.

“A lot of our adopters are unable to get in within the two-week time frame,” Olson said.

Shelter staff say some new pet owners are unable to find a vet.

“It’s their first animal they’ve adopted, it can be difficult to get in as a first-time client,” Olson said.

Veterinarian Nicole Azene hopes to change this. She’s building a new hospital in Onalaska.

“The goal is to help ease the shortage that we’re seeing in veterinary services in the region,” she said.

Pet adoptions have increased, but animal clinics have not, Azene said.

“Right here in La Crosse County, the number of households with dogs and cats has increased by 29% over the last thirty years,” Azene said.

When it opens next summer, Azene said the Onalaska Animal Hospital will ease the backlog of wellness visits and procedures.

“We can do that without cutting into the operations of other clinics in the area,” said Azene.

The Humane Society says the new clinic will also help the animals at the shelters.

“They get to go home faster which is ideal for them,” said Olson.

Onalaska Animal Hospital will provide a variety of veterinary services including dental and surgical care when it opens.

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