COLUMBIA, S.C. — Clemson University is planning to build South Carolina's first-ever veterinarian school in hopes of preventing students from leaving the state to become elsewhere.
Lawmakers could give the school $75 million in the budget to help build it.
At Doko Animal Hospital in Blythewood, owner Dr. Brian Gallery doesn't get much downtime.
“Depending on how many doctors are here, we'll see anywhere from 20 to 40 pets a day," said Gallery.
He said it took 18 months to find enough vets to serve all the four-legged friends that walk through the door.
“Couple increased in pet ownership with COVID plus the worker shortage led to real fierce competition for veterinarians," said Gallery.
Vet Shortages are happening across the country.
Clemson Veterinary College steering committee chairman and retired veterinarian Dr. Boyd Parr said there could be a shortage of 15,000 veterinarians nationwide by 2030.
"If all of them were doing companion animal care that would represent 75 million pets that wouldn't have care if they weren’t there," said Parr.
Beyond care for family pets, Parr said vets play a vital role in the agriculture industry, performing meat inspection and food safety protocols.
"Without access to veterinary care, that whole sector is going to fail. They're important in disease prevention and management and food safety," said Parr.
Part of the problem, according to Parr, is that South Carolina doesn't have a vet school. The state spends $6 million each year to provide in-state tuition for South Carolinians who have no option but to study veterinary medicine in other states.
Gallery was one of those students. He attended the University of Georgia.
If Gallery could have stayed in-state for Vet school, the Columbia Native said he probably would have.
“I think that having an in-state school just helps not only keep your instate talent there, but you can recruit from other states, too," said Gallery.
Parr said the school will place fourth-year students into the field rather than a teaching hospital. He said the school could graduate students by 2030.
New veterinary schools are proposed in Arkansas, New Jersey, Utah and West Virginia.