Swamped with sick animals as vet care affordability drops: animal shelters’ pleas for government assistance go unanswered

As vet costs surge during the pandemic, so does the surrendering of sick pets. Yet, despite the pleas of strained local animal shelters, government assistance doesn’t appear to be coming anytime soon. (Image: Central Pet Care)

By Alana Pahor | @Alana_Pahor

South Australian animal shelters are being swamped with sick animals as the pandemic exacerbates the price of vet visits, with no promise of government assistance in the near future.

Flagging the issue last month, RSPCA chief inspector Andrea Lewis said their Lonsdale shelter “gets calls every day from people asking for us to treat their animals”.

Lewis said low-income pet owners are forced to surrender their animals to the RSPCA as they can’t afford veterinary care, since “budgets are limited . . . especially now that we’re coming out of the pandemic”.

However, Lewis said the RSPCA doesn’t have the resources to look after the influx of sick pets.

“We have our own vet clinic, but we also have over 1000 animals in care . . . that vet clinic’s already flat out with all of our own animals,” she said.

Lewis said the introduction of subsidised vet care, as proposed by the Animal Justice Party late last year, would mitigate the issue and “allow animals to be treated and have a better quality of life”.

Animal Justice Party lead candidate Louise Pfeiffer said subsidised vet care, which would reduce veterinary costs for eligible low-income pet owners, would “ideally be implemented at a federal level” and funded by tax revenue from puppy farms.

However, Pfeiffer said the Animal Justice Party has been unable to develop the proposal further as they did not secure a seat in the last state election.

“It was something to be looked at if we got elected,” she said.

Fairview Lodge Animal Shelter manager Kerri Bryant said “something more needs to be done”.

Bryant said the self-funded Hillier shelter, located in Adelaide’s far North, receives “minimal” donations and has struggled to afford veterinary treatment for the increased number of sick animals in their care during the pandemic.

“Our vet fees are horrendous and we get no government funding, no assistance from anyone,” she said. “Last year, our vet fees were $16,000.”

Bryant said the shelter has had to “slow down” on taking in sick animals despite demand, as they “just don’t have the money”.

She said the government “needs to put their hand up and assist the shelters that help these animals” by making subsidised vet care available to pet owners and shelters alike.

However, Pfeiffer said subsidised vet care for animal shelters was “not in the scope” of what they had proposed.

“It was going to be for individuals,” she said.

Pfeiffer said while it’s likely “this policy isn’t going to get off the ground,” Labor’s federal election win will likely “see some more significant reforms for animals here in Australia”.

“Labor has agreed to a few things; some of them are really significant in the field of animal protection and animal welfare,” Pfeiffer said.

Either party is yet to reveal whether a policy similar to subsidised vet care will be implemented during Labor’s term.

To help the RSPCA care for the influx of sick pets coming through their doors, you can donate or become a volunteer.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: