Our First Responders: Delaney Sweeney

Delaney Sweeney works with just one other veterinarian at Wilkinson Veterinary Clinic in Alice.

When the pandemic arrived, all other veterinary clinics in the area shut to all but emergencies, leaving Sweeney and her fellow vet to see what felt like all the animals in the county. For two to three months, their daily pet intake more than doubled.

“We were two vets doing the work of 10,” Sweeney says. “There were six days in a row when neither of us sat down or ate.”

Apart from sheer volume, the clinic faced other challenges. As the health care world was thrown into crisis, animal health supplies were diverted to help human patients. The clinic had to stop spaying and neutering due to lack of oxygen supply.

“Oxygen was getting shunted to human medicine, along with masks, surgical equipment, and disinfectants,” Sweeney says. “It was a struggle to keep things like bleach and essential items. We were limited on the amount of things we could do. We saved our oxygen for important surgeries and emergencies. Luckily, we didn’t ever run out and were able to start back up quickly.”

Trevor Paulhus

In the face of so much human loss and hardship, animal health has taken a back seat. But these beloved creatures are still of paramount importance to pet owners and the veterinarians dedicating their lives to helping them.

Luckily, none of Sweeney’s patients have tested positive for COVID-19 — although cats and dogs can contract the virus.

The vet clinic has taken safety precautions to protect themselves, their patients, and their clients. “We clean constantly anyway, because, well, pets,” Sweeney says. “We also wear masks in front of clients.”

“We’re a little family.”

As for the clinic employees, “we’re a little family, we’re around each other all the time” — so they’ve formed a bubble as they work to protect the many pets of Alice. These range from cats and dogs to iguanas and chameleons to bobcats and raccoons. “You’d be surprised how many people have raccoons as pets,” Sweeney says.

Sweeney has her fair share of pets, including six dogs, a cat, a horse, and a mini donkey who’s “attached at the hip” to her 2-year-old son, Houston. Add five dogs her husband, Patric, is training; he manages the dog boarding and training facility Wilkinson Veterinary Clinic is opening next door.

From her Orange Grove home to her clinic, Sweeney and her co-workers have managed to not only weather the pandemic but also get Alice’s pets through it too.

Delaney Sweeney is a Texas Farm Bureau member. Kari Hendricks, a Texas Farm Bureau Insurance agency manager in Jim Wells County, nominated her for this series. Read about our other first responders, Samuel Askins, Kirk Burnett, Nicole Michels, Ryan Michels, Brigette Munoz, and Brent Tymrak.

© 2020 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance