After spending all morning on reception at our clinic, I was less than delighted to see someone from London had posted a complaint on the branch Facebook page about the level of service the RSPCA provides to pet owners who can't afford to pay out of hours fees at a private vet.
Unfortunately this is just one aspect of a vicious circle in which we can't raise enough funds to do everything members of the public think we should, which leads to bad publicity and in turn to less funds and more situations where we can't help.
We run the only low-cost animal clinic in the whole of Cambridgeshire, and if we go under something like 2% of the local population will have no source of affordable veterinary help at all. It's absolutely imperative that we persuade more people who care about animals that the RSPCA can't function unless they get involved and help keep our services running.
Part of the problem is that we are dealing with a lot of people who are having difficulty finding relatively small amounts of money. On the whole, someone facing a £2,000 veterinary bill will understand that it's not possible for the RSPCA to cover it. Someone whose animal needs £100 worth of treatment can't understand why an organisation with a £250,000 turnover can't pay for it all, and, indeed, if there was just one person in that situation there would be no problem.
What is completely impossible is finding that hundred pounds every day of the week in addition to carrying on the normal clinic service for registered patients.
It's not as straightforward as saying that people shouldn't have pets unless they are prepared to pay for them, because at the point where they need a vet it's not a choice of keeping the pet or having it rehomed, but keeping it or having it put to sleep. Plus, of course, if everyone who would struggle to pay a £100 vet bill asked us to rehome their pet immediately, we couldn't possibly do that either.