During the first UK lockdown, we received several messages from pet owners distressed over the fact they were not allowed inside the vet practice as vet visits took place – even when their pets had to be put to sleep.
A reader wrote, ” I watched as she was taken inside without me and saw her confused and frightened face, she cannot see or hear well and was sniffing the air to see if I was at her side as I always am. I never leave her. I watched through the glass as she was shuffled out of my sight and tears filled my eyes. Powerless and alone outside, with no options whatsoever and my girl distressed without me.
“My girl was reunited back with me after being given her injection, panting heavily and clearly stressed. I wished so much she could just have it given outside while I maintained a two-metre distance. An outside booth with a curtain, or perhaps I could wear a face covering, maybe perspex screens could be put up in consult rooms?”
Another, heartbreakingly, was unable to be with her dog as she was put to sleep.
I shall never forget that look, l can see her now, bewildered and alone.
“The nurse came out and took her lead. We were desperate to go with her, but we were not allowed in,” she wrote.
“At the door Skye stopped and looked back at us. I wanted to race over, grab her and take her home. I shall never forget that look, l can see her now, bewildered and alone. Why could the surgery, staffed by caring animal lovers, not have one room used solely by owners who wanted to stay with their pet to the end?”
Many dog owners are calling for measures to be put in place in order to be able to be present during vet visits; however, the British Veterinary Association maintains that such measures are necessary to keep vets and vet nurses safe, as well as the public.
Last April, BVA President Daniella Dos Santos said, “Vets across the UK are working hard to provide essential care for animals in difficult circumstances. Many are working with reduced teams due to furloughing and self-isolation.”
Please trust your veterinary team, respect their decisions, and understand that they are doing their very best
She added, “Worryingly, our members are telling us that they’ve received abuse and undue pressure from clients. This is unacceptable. Vets are exercising their clinical and professional judgement in order to balance animal health and welfare, public health, client safety and the safety of their teams.
“The veterinary profession is playing its part in reducing the spread of Covid-19. This means that they will be assessing and prioritising cases, and clients should expect non-essential procedures to be delayed. Veterinary decisions will vary between practices and in different parts of the country.
“Please trust your veterinary team, respect their decisions, and understand that they are doing their very best.”
What do you think – should pet owners be allowed in during vet visits on lockdown? Tell us what you think here, in the Facebook thread below, or email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject line ‘Great Debate’.