Saturday, January 23, 2010

Welfare assistance at private vets

With great regret Cambridge branch committee have decided there is no realistic alternative to suspending help with the cost of veterinary treatment at private vets for owned animals.

This does not affect branch help with first aid for strays whose owner is not known.

Over the past five years the demand for emergency financial help at private vets has more than quadrupled, and the amounts of money required for each treatment has more than doubled. This is just not sustainable without a gigantic increase in our income, which has not been possible in spite of our best efforts.

Treatment at a private vet is enormously less cost effective than using our branch animal clinic, and most of the time there is no good reason why the animal's owner could not have got their pet registered there. The vets who contract to provide services to our clinic will treat out of hours emergencies provided the individual animal involved has been registered at the clinic previously. Animals can be registered provided that the person who owns them is on a means-tested state benefit (which includes working tax credit, job-seeker's allowance and state pension and carer's allowance, but not child tax credit on its own).

Our animal clinic is at 1 Pool Way, Whitehill Road, Cambridge CB5 8NT and it is open on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday (8.30 am - 10.30 pm). To register an animal you need to bring proof of current benefits and a £7 consultation fee, and the animal must attend to be checked over. Sick or injured animals can be seen for the first time on these days, and they will then be treated as registered. Animals must be brought to the clinic at least once every two years to keep their registration current.

We have not come to this decision lightly, but the only possible alternative would have been to put a strict limit to cover the vet's consultation fee only. This would still strain our funds and it would mean that we would frequently be achieving nothing beyond reimbursing the vet for part of the cost of putting the animal to sleep. The number of animals put to sleep using RSPCA funds is frequently used in campaigns to discourage donations to the RSPCA, so in the interest of our overall ability to help animals it would be preferable to stop help at private vets entirely rather than continue at a low level.

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