By Nicholas Holt
Tighter lockdown restrictions, surging unemployment levels, and high demand for essential medical services could leave thousands of Australian pets without basic care.
As Australians wake up to the reality of an unrecognisable life, so, too, do their pets.
“Our clients have lost jobs and there is high financial pressure on people, so money that may have been allocated to pets has to be redirected to household expenses,” Meredith Gordon, a veterinarian at Brisbane Bird & Exotics Veterinary Service, said.
“Pets will, unfortunately, suffer because of this, and it’s tough for everyone – clients and vets alike.
“People won’t have the disposable income to spend on preventative health like vaccinations, parasite prevention, and desexing. Those people coming in with emergent situations are also less likely to have financial reserves to draw upon at the moment, so the rate of euthanasia will inevitably be higher.”
Ms Gordon said pets were at risk of being further isolated due to the growing demand in shift work, unless owners took steps to mitigate the length of confinement their animals were facing.
“Lots of pets – especially birds – spend all day in cages, and if they’re lucky they might get some free time out when their owners get home,” she said.
“I think being forced to stay indoors, and to share that space with your caged animal, potentially increases people’s understanding and empathy for how it feels to be restricted to a confined space.
“Certainly the time spent at home where everyone is bored is a valuable time to get to know your creatures, spend more time with them, increase their environmental enrichment and enjoy them.”
In response to an increase in the need for pet care, a Sydney pet hotel this week launched a non-profit crisis support program called ‘Pets in our Life’, to assist those who couldn’t meet their pet’s needs.
“The rates are non-profit, meaning Hanrob Pet Hotels is charging only what is required to keep the Hotels running for important pet care. The fee simply covers overheads to care for these animals.”
Hanrob Pet Hotels said the initiative would help to ensure that the animals would continue to receive adequate care, despite a change in circumstance for their owners.
Reduced-cost accomodation and other pet services are now available at Hanrob Pet Hotels located in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory.
“Across the country, our medical professionals are on the front line of this virus, working longer hours and shifts to help those in need – and we are so thankful for them,” CEO of Hanrob Pet Hotels Andrew Biggs said.
“We understand the increased anxiety and pressures regarding caring for animals in this difficult time, so we’ve launched this initiative to support the Australian community, and ensure the nation’s pets aren’t forgotten.”
Mr Biggs said there were also thousands of Australians in quarantine or self-isolation who would be temporarily unable to care for their pet.
“People whose quarantine or self-isolation status makes it hard for them to take good care of their pets or even walk their dogs because they are focusing on getting better or staying inside,” Mr Biggs said.
“We hope that the Pets in Our Life program brings a little relief.”
Helen Falla, CEO of the Canberra Hospital Foundation, said the team at Hanrob had worked together with the Canberra Hospital Foundation to help provide “invaluable support for patients and their pets”.
“One of many examples includes an elderly patient who found himself in hospital for an unexpectedly extended period,” Ms Falla said.
“Hanrob continued to provide care and worked with the Foundation to provide regular updates to our patient to let him know how his pet was doing.
“This was a huge reassurance for a patient whose pet was his only companion.”
Ms Falla said the initiative had helped to alleviate the worry and stress of her patients, and hoped it would do the same for others during the pandemic.
“We’re delighted to see them now launch this initiative to support those impacted during the current pandemic, as well as our medical workers,” she said.
For more information: https://www.hanrob.com.au/