Vets Now has launched three charitable initiatives this year, one being a £200,000 ‘angel fund’ to over the costs to treat pets and stray animals.
Privately-owned Vets Now, established 16 years ago, is the largest provider of out-of-hours care and employs more than 200 vets in its network of 56 clinics and three emergency and specialty hospitals across the UK.
Each of Vets Now’s vets are to be given approximately £1000 a year to provide emergency care to pets and stray animals, where treatments costs can’t be met. The money will be used to treat critically-ill patients who might otherwise face euthanasia.
Vets will be given discretion over how they spend their allowance as long as the pets they choose to treat have a good chance of recovery and their owners meet certain financial criteria. They will be allocated an allowance from the angel fund while vet nurses and other clinic staff will be encouraged to nominate suitable cases for treatment.
The “angel fund” is being championed by Vets Now chief executive, Mark Ross, who says it demonstrates that the business is committed to animal welfare and to giving pets and their owners the care they need at the time they need it the very most.
Ross said: “I hope our new angel fund scheme will also help combat compassion fatigue, which often affects people in caring roles and can lead to stress and burnout. Our vets and vet nurses often express concern about having to put pets to sleep because there is no one in a position to pay for their treatment.
“These are sometimes stray animals who have been brought in to our clinics by worried members of the public or pets whose owners are simply struggling to make ends meet, and perhaps have been unable to afford insurance.”
He added: “These cases are heartbreaking for owners and a tragedy for their pets. The idea for an angel fund came from our clinical team and it’s apt they will be able to use it to do what they got into the profession for.”
In the case of PDSA, Vets Now is to offer discounted emergency out-of-hours treatment to pet owners transferring from the Pet Practice Service to the new PDSA Pet Care scheme.
Those signed up already receive reduced costs for treatment, as well as a free consultation and vaccination, from participating vets during daytime hours.
Now pet owners whose practices use Vets Now to cover their out-of-hours emergencies will be eligible to receive treatment at Vets Now for a flat fee of £120.
In a separate development, Vets Now has agreed to provide out-of-hours care to the pets of homeless people registered with StreetVet in Birmingham, including providing two pro bono cases per month.
The charity was set up by volunteer vets three years ago to ensure homeless people had more widespread access to veterinary treatment.
Ross added: “We already have a great relationship with PDSA and I’m confident this initiative will give peace of mind to partner practices participating in the PDSA scheme.
“Furthermore, we are delighted to be strengthening our ties with StreetVet by providing their out-of-hours care in Birmingham, including offering two pro-bono cases each month. In addition we are keen to support our staff who want to work with StreetVet and have ensured that the VDS cover we provide as part of their benefits package at Vets Now will also cover any charitable work they do with StreetVet.”