Thursday, May 27, 2010

Why we help people with veterinary treatment costs

I'm sometimes asked why we spend money helping people with the cost of veterinary treatment; the implication being that we're really just enabling owners to have more money to spend on themselves. Frankly I sometimes feel that way myself when I have conversations with owners who can't manage appointments we've set up for them because they've got holidays booked (what are those? I seem to remember having one sometime in 1982).

Unfortunately the fact that owners ought to have put at least some money aside for emergencies doesn't help an animal who needs a vet now. Most of the people we deal with genuinely don't have £100 available to spend on a visit to the emergency vet late at night, let alone another £200 or so for actual treatment. At the moment this is quite likely to mean that an animal who's been hit by a car may have to wait to see a vet at our clinic the following day as the only alternative to being put to sleep by the emergency vet with no attempt at treatment.

If our clinic wasn't there, the only alternatives would be euthanasia that night or euthanasia the following day, depending on the goodwill and ethics of the closest private vets, which might well start to run dry if it was happening every day.

As well as this, we also have to consider that the RSPCA does eventually prosecute people who neglect their animals by not taking them for veterinary treatment when it's needed. This implies that the owner can access a vet within a reasonable timespan, and for some people the only way that's going to happen is if someone else stumps up the money. When we do that we try to get the owner to pay at least something; there may be more delay than we'd like, and we may not be able to fund more than palliative care or euthanasia. What isn't acceptable is if we do nothing.

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