Sunday, September 16, 2012

Grim weekend for cats

Sadly several calls from people wanting to know whether we'd found lost cats, and, even worse, asking what to do about dead cats they'd found. One caller wanting advice about breaking in to a property where he suspects his cat has become trapped which I hope our National Control Centre were able to help with.

But, one call did make me very upset and angry. It was from a good samaritan neighbour who was trying to help a mentally handicapped man whose cat had been mauled by a dog. First there was the infuriating fact that, in spite of all our publicity efforts, this gentleman had still not understood that he needed to register ALL his cats with our clinic if they were to be eligible for the out of hours service our veterinary provider offers. This isn't something that I have the ability to treat leniently; our agreement with the vets is that they will see animals who have been registered by attending a normal clinic session at some time over the past two years and I don't have any ability to make exceptions for hardship. Secondly, he'd got no provision at all for paying for treatment; even if I'd been able to get him into the low-cost scheme he couldn't have paid anything. Thirdly, the private vet his helpful neighbour contacted was refusing even to provide euthanasia unless we agreed to cover the cost, plus the consultation fee.

I don't think it's likely that the cat's life could have been saved even if we could have covered the cost of attempting surgery, and I appreciate that vets are in a very difficult position because they would go out of business if all their potential clients could just say they couldn't pay and get things for free. However they do have a professional obligation to relieve suffering and if they demand we pay more than we can raise by fundraising we will go bust and there will be no source of help for vulnerable owners.

It's extremely worrying that so many owners still seem to have no idea that free or cheap veterinary treatment isn't automatically going to be available if something goes wrong (for example, see this thread about access to PDSA treatment on the dogpages discussion forum).

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