The policy explained

  • From the start of July 2011, an eligible PDSA PetAid hospital client can still register up to three pets, but only one pedigree cat or dog will be permitted per client. 
     
  • Special provision will be made for existing second or third pedigree pets that are reliant on continuous treatment, for example, a second or third pedigree pet that is diabetic and dependent upon insulin. In such cases ongoing registration may be permitted, as long as the client continues to be eligible for PDSA help. 
     
  • The vast majority of current hospital patients (93%) are unaffected, meaning only 7% will be affected by this new policy. 
     
  • PDSA is giving all eligible owners one full registration period, in addition to any months left on current registration, before the new rule takes effect. This gives PetAid hospital clients time (in some cases up to two years) to make arrangements for the care of their second and third pedigree pets. 
     
  • We have taken great care to ensure that all pet owners affected are given as much support as possible during the phasing in of this new policy.

Why the change has been made

As part of PDSA’s commitment to animal welfare, PDSA has reviewed its registration criteria at its PetAid hospitals for pedigree pets in an effort to further promote responsible pet ownership. Our decision has been driven by our core aim of ensuring a healthy life for all pets, enabling our charitable veterinary service to be available to as many pet owners as possible.

In recent years there has been a large and unsustainable rise in the number of PDSA PetAid hospital clients bringing more than one pedigree pet for treatment. Our new policy does not stop clients from owning a pedigree pet; but it does however, ensure that PDSA services are allocated appropriately. PDSA must ensure that its limited funds are used fairly to provide its charitable veterinary services to as many owners in need as possible.

PDSA exists to help owners when they are most in need. PDSA is no longer able to support people who actively acquire multiple pedigree pets without being able to commit to their long-term health and welfare needs. Sadly, pedigree pets often need high levels of veterinary care due to inherited illnesses and breed related conditions as a result of irresponsible breeding associated with certain pedigree matings. The high level of demand this inevitably puts on our veterinary service results in a disproportionate allocation of funding, which is neither fair or appropriate. 

Hundreds of thousands of pet owners in need turn to us each year for help and this figure has increased by an incredible 50% over the past five years.

Your Questions Answered

Why does this apply to pedigree pets and not crossbreeds?

Sadly, pedigree pets often need high levels of care due to inherited illnesses and breed-related conditions. This results in a disproportionate allocation of PDSA charitable veterinary resources, which is neither fair nor appropriate. Generally, non-pedigree dogs and cats don’t have the same health issues as pedigree breeds.

Does this new policy apply only to dogs and cats?

Yes. The policy does not apply to rabbits, guinea pigs and other small pets nor does it apply to caged birds such as budgies. However, regardless of what pets people have PDSA would always recommend that owners carefully consider the lifetime responsibilities that pet ownership brings before taking on any pets. PDSA’s Your Right Pet tool gives invaluable guidance on the costs and health and welfare needs of pets www.yourrightpet.co.uk

Does it make a difference if pedigree pets were rescued rather than bought?

PDSA is committed to ensuring that pet owners think carefully before acquiring more pets than they can sensibly care for, be they pedigree pets or crossbreeds that are bought or re-homed. PDSA exists to help owners when they are most in need and is no longer able to support people who acquire multiple pedigree pets without being able to commit to their long-term health and welfare needs.

Are ‘designer dogs’ such as labradoodles and cockerpoos classed as pedigrees?

‘Designer dogs’ are not classed as pedigrees. However, pet owners deliberately breeding from any species for profit, and without considering the health and wellbeing of the pet, would be stopped from using PDSA services. This practice is entirely at odds with the provision of our charitable veterinary service, which is funded completely by public support.

Which pets are classed as pedigree?

Those of a recognisable breed type, whether pedigree papers are available or not. PDSA PetAid hospital clients who would like further advice on the breed of their pet are advised to speak to their local PDSA PetAid hospital for further information.

I’m a PDSA PetAid hospital client with more than one pedigree – what should I do?

If you have recently received a letter from PDSA please read its contents for details about the transitional arrangements we plan to offer as well as practical advice on what you should do next.

Your PDSA PetAid hospital will be able to advise you on the transitional arrangements available to you which, in some cases will mean that you have up to two years to make alternative arrangements for veterinary care for a second or third pedigree pet/s. Also we may be able to offer ongoing help (discretionary registration) for pets that are currently reliant on continuous medication such as diabetics reliant on insulin provided there is no change in an owner’s eligibility.

Staff at PDSA PetAid hospitals can also offer practical advice such as registering pets with a private veterinary practice or taking out pet insurance. Alternatively there may be other charities that offer a veterinary service in your area.

What happens if my second pedigree pet, granted discretionary registration because of its continuous medication, gets ill with another condition?

The pet will receive treatment for any further illness or injury for as long as discretionary registration is granted.

Why not just introduce a compulsory donation instead?

PDSA is unable to make a compulsory charge for its charitable services (treatment of eligible sick and injured pets). However, we already actively encourage all clients to make a voluntary contribution towards their pet’s treatment. PDSA relies entirely on public support. This year our veterinary service will cost £54 million all of which is funded by kind donations, fundraising and legacies.

Why can’t this apply to new clients and pets rather than existing clients and pets?

Our policy change has been carefully considered based on fact and evidence from our 49 hospitals, independent research and views of the veterinary profession, PDSA staff, clients and supporters. PDSA must ensure that its limited funds are used fairly to provide charitable veterinary services to as many owners in need as possible. It would be unfair if the new policy was selective between existing and new clients. Our decision has been driven by our core aim of ensuring a healthy life for all pets, enabling our charitable veterinary service to be available to as many pet owners as possible.

Can non registered pets get treatment in an emergency?

Like all vets, PDSA would provide first aid and pain relief for pets presented in an emergency. Pets which are not eligible for PDSA care would then be referred to another practice.

How about elderly clients, for whom a pet may be their sole companion?

Senior citizens currently register their pets at PDSA for 12 months at a time, as opposed to six months for other clients. All clients can re-register all existing pets, pedigree or otherwise, once more before the new rules take effect. So pensioners may have up to two more years under existing rules before being affected by the changes.

In addition, if a pet has an existing, long-term continuous health condition, they may continue to qualify for free treatment anyway, irrespective of the new rule.

As vets, shouldn’t you treat all animals in need of care?

We will always treat an animal in need of emergency veterinary care, irrespective of eligibility. For non-emergency cases, demand for our charitable service far exceeds supply. Therefore we have eligibility criteria to ensure our services are spread as evenly as fairly as possible among pet owners in greatest need. So such rules are not new, simply changing according to the circumstances explained previously.

A decision based on veterinary evidence and supporter feedback

91% of PDSA donors and supporters said that we are right to be concerned about the numbers and types of pets some people are acquiring and presenting for charitable treatment, of which 88% said they would support the change in our policy.

If you have further questions or concerns, please contact us in writing at:

PDSA PetAid Office,
18 Fawcett Street,
Sunderland
SR1 1RH.

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