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Closed petition Rosa's Legacy : Introduce a scheme to help people access veterinary care for their companion animals
We call on the Welsh Assembly to ask the Welsh Government to introduce a scheme to help responsible owners of companion animals access face to face veterinary consultations and care for their animals.
From this year the Welsh Government will for the first time have their own limited tax making powers. For many years ordinary people have and are still struggling with the basic cost of living. There is no doubt the benefits to people's well-being and mental health that having a pet can have. Many become part of their family. For some who live in isolation or alone they are the only family they have.
Veterinary science like most professions has evolved rapidly in recent years. Veterinary Surgeons, RVNs and their support staff who work on the "front line " in Cymru do so under very challenging circumstances. It's good to see that their governing body the RCVS have in recent years recognised this and put in place measures to try and support mental health wellbeing within the profession. But unlike human health in Wales there is no NHS service for animals that is free at the point of need 24/7.
Under the Animal Welfare Act ( England and Wales) of 2006 section 3.16, it is the responsibility of owners to provide five basic welfare needs, the fifth being " protection from pain suffering, injury and disease ".
I would argue that as well as an requirement set out in law, we also have a moral and ethical responsibility. This was expressed brilliantly by our former First Minister Carwyn Jones AM on the floor of the Senedd in July last year " the way we treat animals is an important reflection of the values of our society ".
The insurance industry for companion animals has flourished in recent years. But many responsible owners can still struggle to get cover for their pets. Pre-existing conditions, dogs who have been exempted by breed specific legislation, or many pets who simply exceeded the amount of treatment their owners insurance policy covers.
Some third sector organisations like the PDSA have for many years tried to plug the gap. They have done sterling work, but in recent years even they have had to take the heartbreaking decision to cut back on the provision they provide. Some areas in Wales have no charity led animal hospitals or veterinary clinics.
There is also a worrying trend of owners turning to the forum of social media in order to get advice on clinical matters rather than take their animals to a veterinary practice. I know people who man helplines for animal charities. They tell me this trend is repeated with them.
With my background in animal rescue I have been convinced for many years that the increasing numbers of companion animals abandoned or signed over to rescues is due in part to people's inability to fund veterinary care for their animals. Rescues in Wales are full to bursting and all available statistics show such instances and any resulting prosecutions are on the rise.
Such a scheme would firstly help companion animals and their owners. It would also help those who work on the front line in rescue, and not least the veterinary profession in Wales, who also at times work in the most challenging circumstances.
This petition is now under consideration by the Petitions Committee
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