Pet owners across South Carolina are experiencing long wait times, because animal clinics are maxed out as the state struggles with a shortage of veterinarians.
These wait times have ranged from three hours to three weeks for Columbia resident and pet owner, Ella Mattox and her dog, Vego. “We usually have a pretty good experience,” says Mattox, “But there have been times where it’ll be weeks and weeks before you can get an appointment.”
Aila Dow, is a veterinary technician at Rosewood Drive Animal Clinic, just one facility experiencing high volume and limited staffing. “It’s a huge problem,” says Dow, “Our vet owns the building, and she’s the only vet that works here, and she does over 30 cases a day by herself.”
Although this shortage is a nationwide issue, South Carolina is experiencing its effects much more than other states. According to the Charleston Animal Society, South Carolina ranks 46th out of 50 states in the number of veterinarians per capita.
One contributing factor could be that the state does not have a school of veterinary medicine. Dow says this was a problem she personally struggled with when deciding if she should enroll in a veterinary school. “Most peoples’ problem right now, like what mine was, was tuition out of state,” says Dow, “It’s difficult, and it’s further away, and it’s more money.”
Clemson University plans to open its College of Veterinary Medicine in Fall 2026, offering a possible solution to South Carolina’s veterinarian shortage.
“The hope for the college of veterinary medicine and the state is that we will keep those students in state rather than going to outside universities,” says Steve Marks, Dean of the Clemson University College of Veterinary Medicine, “That is one of the goals is for us to produce veterinarians to remain in the state.”
The colleges first class of veterinarians will graduate in 2030 and Marks hopes that these veterinarians will choose to stay in South Carolina to help fill the statewide vacancies.