An urgent recruitment appeal for qualified vets has been issued in Wales as animals needlessly die due to a lack of staff.
Eville & Jones, a provider of outsourced veterinary controls in England and Wales, says there has been an eight per cent drop in qualified vets applying for positions within Wales.
This has led to animals dying from their illnesses or injuries because they have not been able to receive professional care.
Caroline Smith, clinical director of Summerhill Vets, has recalled an emergency where owners rushed their chocking puppy to their closest vets - but when they arrived, there was no vet to be found.
She added: "By the time the puppy got to me, it was dead."
It comes as 66 per cent of vets in small animal practices received abuse from clients over the past year.
Charles Hartwell, chief executive of Eville & Jones commented: “Since Brexit, like many other industries we have struggled to plug the skills gap of workers following rule changes, and we are seeing that Wales is one of the worst affected areas for this.”
About 900 students graduate with veterinary degrees from approved universities each year - and vets from the UK would usually step in to help plug the gap in the UK.
However, new rules on English fluency, brought in since Brexit, have caused a significant drop in the numbers applying for work visas, as the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons now requires vets to meet level seven English, rather than the previous 4.1 requirement.
There's currently more than 30 vacancies for veterinary roles in Wales with Eville & Jones, including area managers, export veterinarians, certification support officers and meat hygiene inspectors.
Mr Hartwell added: “We are calling for qualified vets to seriously think about applying for a role within veterinary public health in Wales, which arguably provides a greater work life balance than working with companion animals and plays a crucial role in ensuring food production levels can be maintained and checked safely.”
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