Animal care professionals are calling for patience and kindness as they struggle with reduced staff numbers thanks to COVID. One NSW country town practice, Wauchope Veterinary Clinic near Port Macquarie on the NSW Mid-North Coast, is feeling the pinch. Staff numbers had been impacted by the virus, Dr Michael Ferguson said, as two nurses are isolating after returning positive COVID-19 tests. "We now have to prioritise what services we can offer and provide," he said. The Australian Veterinary Association issued a statement which outlined COVID-19 is stretching veterinary services to breaking point. READ MORE: "We know that there are around 125,000 doctors to look after almost 26 million Australians, compared to only 13,500 vets to look after the 30.4 million pets - let alone all the other animals that vets look after," it said. "Staff shortages due to the Omicron variant are making it very difficult for veterinary teams to provide care to all of their patients." Dr Ferguson described the environment as challenging and are currently just taking emergency cases, while rescheduling elective surgeries where possible. "It's very hard to know what we're going to be faced with each day and also having enough staff on hand to do it," he said. Dr Ferguson said the pandemic is also adding the mental health pressures people are experiencing. "There are a lot more people who are stressed and worried, and that often comes to the surface when they have to deal with an emotional situation with their pet," he said. Dr Ferguson is calling for patience and kindness, given the sector is already under strain.