Friday, November 13, 2009

Why subsidised veterinary care is part of our work

Occasionally people complain that we spend lots of money helping people who really ought to have thought whether they could afford pets, or at least whether they could afford to have so many of them. There are several reasons why this service is essential:
  • It's much better to help otherwise good and caring owners to keep their pets than to force them to give them up for rehoming—particularly in the case of older animals who would spend a long time in kennels. There is no point spending even more money just to punish the owners.
  • If there is no source of help then people may panic and do irrational things. They may abandon animals, or simply hope that the problem will go away if they ignore it. This can sometimes result in extreme suffering, for example if the animal has broken bones.
  • A major part of the "law enforcement" side of the RSPCA involves prosecuting owners who didn't seek veterinary treatment for their animals, or who allowed their animals to breed until they had far more than they could look after. If we are to be tough about enforcing owners' "duty to care" we have a corresponding obligation to make it possible for them to care.
But... I would like to see some of the people we help recognise that our funds are not a bottomless pit. Many of them do take on more animals from a genuine desire to rescue them, but it does put more and more strain on us.

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