All pawrents can agree that vet care for our fur kids is expensive. It is a leading factor in people surrendering their companion animals and deciding between treatment and euthanasia. It shouldn’t be this way, and if Andy Meddick from the Animal Justice Party has his way, it won’t be the reality for pet carers in Victoria.

The reality of COVID pets (companion animals purchased at the start of COVID) has started to dawn not just on the pawrents who bought or adopted these animals but on the vet industry, animal rescues, and dog trainers, doggy daycares, pet supply companies and the community. Along with the rising cost of living, a companion animal can break the bank and, unfortunately, this is not something many people think about before bringing home a new fur kid. Real Insurance has stated that in a dog’s first year, you can spend between $2-$5k in care, excluding the purchase/adoption price. Ongoing care for a dog average around $2000 per year. So is there a way to make caring for our companion animals realistic?

This week Meddick proposed a ‘Veticare’ bill in Victoria’s upper house, and it has been dubbed the Medicare of animal care. It is an exciting concept that could hold a key component to lowering surrenders, lowering cases of neglect due to financial hardship and making it affordable for pensioners and concession card holders to adopt a companion animal.

As well as providing subsidised and means-tested care, the proposal also looks at increasing wildlife-only centres (to relieve vets looking after the bulk of wildlife cases) and upskilling vet nurses so that vets can concentrate on more complex cases.

For those of us who live in metro areas and the inner city, we take for granted the ease of visiting a vet; however, in regional areas, this is not the case. For years, the industry body has been calling out for investment within the vet industry, including training more vets for rural and regional towns. It is disturbing to think that many animals go without care when they are in pain or distress and what their fates are without access to vets, let alone affordable vet care.

It will not solve every issue; we know that since the end of 2021, animal rescues are packed (with COVID-purchased pets), with many having to close their books. In addition, the reality of renting with a fur kid has been near impossible (hopefully, this will change with new state legislation), and the behavioural issues of poorly bred and isolated dogs, in particular, continue to strain the limited trainers/daycares and behaviourists that exist.

I think there is hope in this scheme, and the reality is that if we don’t do something now, the vet industry will collapse within a very short timeframe. We need more vets; we need an industry overhaul to make sure we are leaders in the field of not only animal care but animal education. Most of us would agree that if you are in pain, distress or need medication, you should be able to see a doctor; with Medicare, we can. For the living beings that we say we love, that we care for and who give us unconditional love in return, don’t they deserve the same? Medicare will provide them with this

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Reference – How much does it cost to own a dog in Australia?