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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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Feature on E61 in Local Secrets e-zine

the RSPCA's funky Emporium 61 on Burleigh Street. Popular with Cambridge's resident students, the shop does a glamorous trade in 70s maxi dresses, pussy bow blouses and fake fur. Woof! Proceeds from the locally donated goods fund regional services such as the charity's animal A&E.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

What would you do if your pet needed an £800 operation?

In comparison with the astronomical costs of human surgery, veterinary operations are (almost) a bargain, but they come as a complete shock to many otherwise good owners. Many cats (and some dogs) will sail through life, needing no more than annual boosters and some geriatric care as they age. Sadly this is not something that is guaranteed, and sometimes the owners of quite young animals may be faced with horrible choices if they are unaware of what may happen.
If a cat or dog is hit by a car, treatment costs may quickly reach the thousands, but there are also acute medical conditions which can need treatment that cannot wait. Some of these are completely preventable (pregnancy complications are my particular hate), but some are nobody's fault. It's particularly upsetting if an otherwise healthy animal's life is endangered by a condition that is treatable.
As a branch, we will do our very best for animals whose owners really cannot raise the money needed to save their lives, but we cannot work miracles and we cannot spend money that we don't have. If you are earning, PLEASE make sure you have a credit card with available funds cover the cost of unexpected emergencies, or an insurance arrangement that will pay your vet direct. If you are not earning, don't simply assume that charity funding will be available - often any charity help will go no-where near covering the cost of treatment, particularly if the emergency happens outside normal surgery hours.
Our branch can help some people who are working, but on a very low income, but many charities have tighter restrictions, and in the end it all comes down to our ability to continue raising funds. 2009 was a bad year for this because of the economic downturn and the freeze just before Christmas. If you care about animals, please support our charity shops in 2010 - they are a lifeline for animals in Cambridgeshire, and at the moment it is a lifeline that is close to breaking.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Volunteers needed in Newmarket

Our charity shop at 156 High Street, Newmarket urgently needs more volunteers to cover Saturday afternoons. We particularly need helpers for sorting incoming donations and cleaning and tidying the shop and stockroom so that they're ready for the Monday volunteers.
If you don't have time to volunteer every Saturday, it would still be very useful to have more people willing to come in on a monthly rota.
If you can help, please call in at the shop (ideally on a Saturday morning or early Saturday afternoon).