RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — Our pets are part of our family. That means those who care for our pets are also essential workers during this pandemic.

At the Richmond SPCA’s Susan M. Markel Veterinary Hospital, it is not business as usual right now.

“It’s definitely a new way of doing things,” said Associate Veterinarian Dr. Courtney Bowers.

Despite COVID-19, caring for animals must go on. Instead of a waiting room for owners, animals are arriving for curbside service.

“We’ll come meet them at the front door and take their pet inside,” Bowers explained.

Once inside, Bowers says pets are typically the only ones to see the other COVID-19 changes.

“We’re staying 6 feet apart as best we can but in our field that impossible a lot of the time so we’re wearing masks, wearing gloves, we’re washing hands, we’re disinfecting,” Bowers told 8News.

Bowers is even providing care through telemedicine, similar to how human doctors are adapting to social distancing.

“We’re doing a lot of phone calls, a lot of emails, owners sending us pictures and videos,” Bowers said. “If it’s something we need to physically touch and see, we want them to come in and of course if it’s an emergency.”

A pet mom herself, Dr. Bowers agrees her patients are vital parts of our families. It’s why she knows her job is important.

“Pets are invaluable right now,” she said. “Ya know we can’t go out and be social with people so pets are our therapy right now.”

While this animal hospital is still open, just like other hospitals, they are also delaying routine visits to make way for animals needing emergency medical care.