Monday, May 10, 2010

Dereliction of duty?

I wasn't planning to blog about the media criticism of the way we have to prioritise need when deciding which animals we can or can't accept for rehoming, but something that happened yesterday annoyed me so much I felt I had to mention it.

At present our branch funds are too low for us to afford to run our animal clinic, care for injured strays and other animals taken in via the inspectors and help owners with the cost of veterinary treatment at private vets. Paying part of the cost at private vets is the least cost-effective way of getting animals treated, so, sadly, we have had to decide that we can only help low-income owners via our clinic. This has open sessions on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday mornings, and, after an animal has been registered at one of these, our service provider will treat him/her outside normal hours in an emergency provided registration is kept up by annual visits to the clinic for booster vaccinations.

Of course, this leaves the insoluble problem of animals whose owners have absolutely no money and haven't been registered. Vets are supposed to have a professional duty to relieve pain and suffering, so, in theory, it should at least be possible for any owner to have their animal put to sleep rather than live on in misery. Veterinary surgeries are businesses (and have to be), so it's not reasonable to expect them to go beyond this at their own expense, because they'd simply go bust, which would help no-one in the long term.

Anyway, to cut a long story short, yesterday morning I had a phone call from a tearful owner whose pet needed to be put to sleep. The veterinary practice concerned wouldn't see her at all unless someone was prepared to put up some money. In the circumstances, as someone who's not being paid by anyone, it makes me very cross to have talk about "dereliction of duty" when the RSPCA, which is after all a charity, tries to stretch funds so that they cover the cases of most need.

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