Westie Life, Hannah Cole
Vet care is very expensive in England, and people on low incomes often cannot afford the fees. There are some new companies offering affordable vet care, but (like all vets probably) there are some poor reviews. One good idea (if you can afford it) is to choose a good lifetime pet insurance (Puffin is a good one) to cover the costs of ongoing conditions, should they arise. Older pets (and some breeds) are usually excluded (as are pre-existing conditions). So consider simply setting up a rainy day account, to cover for little emergencies.
Prevention is key many times. No-one wants their beloved pets to become ill, or be in an accident. Read For Dog’s Sake, a fab little illustrated dog safety manual, to learn of toxic foods and plants to avoid, and find information on everything from heatstroke to bloat to the perils of puddles – it also includes a quick first aid guide. Look online for lists of toxic foods, toxic plants and other hazards.
- Animal Trust is England’s first non-profit vet surgery. It offers the same level of care, but profits (after paying for treatment and staff) go straight back to animal welfare. With a number of surgeries across northern England, it is unique in that it offers unlimited free consultations. This is because often worried pet guardians use up all the money they have for the consultations, and then can’t afford the actual cost of treatment.
- There are some charities that offer free or discounted vet care across England, though you usually have to offer proof of low income, and exclusions apply. PDSA, Blue Cross and RSPCA all offer this service. The other idea is to simply check locally. Many vets and animal shelters, also offer low-cost services.
- Cat’s Protection offers free neutering for people on low-incomes. Neutering cats (like all operations) has a small risk. But overall it results in less disease, and helps to reduce overpopulation, which leads to homeless cats and kittens.
- If you know someone who is homeless, tell them about Dog’s Trust Hope Project. This offers a card for people living on the streets, to access free care at participating vets. The pack also includes a list of dog-friendly hostels.