GRAFTON — Pet owners in Central Massachusetts should no longer expect to walk into the Lois Foster Hospital for Small Animals at Cummings Veterinary Medical Center at Tufts University when their pet is having an emergency.

The hospital is not taking new, critical patients, according to an announcement made last week.

The facility is now almost always filled to capacity with sick or injured animals, and in a statement on social media, hospital officials wrote, “Effective immediately, the Foster Hospital for Small Animals is not able to accept new patients in our critical care unit. If your pet is having an immediate life-threatening emergency, and we are the closest facility, please call 508-839-5395 prior to presenting.”

The move is impacting the pet-loving community and officials said they knew that would be the case. Since they are already at capacity, adding more sick pets would not allow them to focus on the patients they already have.

While the problem isn’t caused by a single factor, the ongoing pandemic hasn’t helped matters.

“The situation we are facing in veterinary practices across the country is the result of many inter-related factors, with the consequences being exacerbated because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Dr. Alastair Cribb, dean of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, said Friday.

The Tufts Hospital for Large Animals still provides the full suite of veterinary services for horses, small ruminants, and other farm animals, and is facing similar issues with a much larger caseload than normal because of the increased need in Massachusetts.

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