Senior veterinarians in south and north Iceland say there is a lack of veterinarians in their regions and that foreign veterinarians are often hired to supervise operations in slaughterhouses. The Agricultural Authority of Iceland says this is not a serious problem.
“When we can’t get veterinarians to work in flourishing agricultural regions like Eyjafjördur and southern Iceland the situation has become very serious,” Ólafur Jónsson, senior veterinarian for Skagafjördur and Eyjafjördur, told Fréttabladid.
According to Jónsson, it is especially difficult to find veterinarians for jobs involving public supervision, which he blames on low salary. “We have to hire foreign veterinarians to work in slaughterhouses this fall. No Icelanders want these jobs.”
Katrín Andrésdóttir, the senior veterinarian in south Iceland, agrees. “I don’t know how to explain this [lack of veterinarians]. Many study to become veterinarians, but it appears that those who study abroad don’t return. We often offer veterinary students who study abroad to come back and work for us, but there is not much interest.”
Jónsson explained most students want to work in urban regions with pets or stable horses and that not many are interested in working in the countryside.
Jón Gíslason, the director of the Agricultural Authority, dismisses the problem as not serious. “It is correct that we don’t receive many applications when we advertise vacancies, especially when we are looking for substitute veterinarians or veterinarians for public supervision,” Gíslason told Fréttabladid. “But it is not a big problem.”