Cowra Veterinary Centre’s Dr Peter Launders has urged the Cowra community to be more responsible about pet ownership, after a spate of individuals dumping stray, injured and unwanted animals at their clinic after hours.
Sparked by the latest incident where four kittens were left in a box in the sun on their front doorstep last Wednesday morning, Dr Launders said that people need to be aware that the centre is not an animal shelter and that it is cruel to exploit their love of animals in that way.
Whoever dropped the kittens off had gone to great lengths to “kitten-proof” the box, but not so far as to ensure their wellbeing and the kittens had to be euthanised, Dr Launders said.
There have been many mornings where vet centre staff have arrived at work only to find an animal that’s in a bad way left in the runs out the back in the hot sun, without any water or shade.
“We had a cat with a broken back that got dumped out in the runs out the back, and no one called us. Maddie came in the next day and found the poor thing pretty much dead,” said Dr Launders.
“Someone might have run over it, panicked and didn’t know what to do, or couldn’t afford to treat it or pay for the cost of euthanasia. I’d say it really comes down to money and people being unwilling to pay for their animals, that’s what really riles us up.”
Dr Launders described another heartwrenching incident where an unmicrochipped dog was left for dead at their clinic.
“We had a large dog that got left here overnight in the runs and it had a vaginal prolapse which required desexing and surgery. We never found the owner and no one ever contacted the ranger about it either.”
He said that sadly the dog had to be euthanised as no one was willing to claim responsibility for it.
While the centre does sometimes function as a last resort for people to drop off animals if the ranger and WIRES are unavailable, Dr Launders said people often take the coward’s way out when it comes to abandoning their sick, injured or unwanted animals.
He stressed that the centre is happy to try to work something out with people if they’re facing financial difficulty, and that they’d rather know that an animal was in need of their assistance rather than turning up in the morning and finding it left there overnight.
“People think it’s their right to have animals and then it’s our responsibility to treat the animals when they get sick if they can’t afford to pay,” Dr Launders said.
“There’s an emotional cost to us. You wouldn’t do this job if you didn’t love animals so it’s really hard to say no to someone.
Dr Launders said to always call the centre if you find yourself in a tough situation with a pet.
“We’re a business but we also love animals and it’s why we’re in this business. We try to help people out; if they will call us and give us a chance to try to help them we can find ways of making it affordable.”
Dr Launders said that with the rise in availability and affordability of pet insurance, for just a small amount of money a month, people can rest assured their animals will be covered should the worst happen and not have to resort to dumping them.
“Some insurance even covers vaccinations and desexing and some routine health care as well so that’s another option for people if money is a limiting factor,” he said.
Other than unwanted pets, there are plenty of medical reasons to get your animals desexed.
“You avoid mammary cancers; you avoid testicular cancers; and it has positive behavioural impacts too,” Dr Launders said.
Ensuring your pets are vaccinated against diseases like Parvovirus are preventative measures that ensures vet bills don’t blow out down the line.
“I try to keep our costs as low as we can because it’s a difficult time for people and we’re not trying to profit from that,” Dr Launders said.
With a revolving door of animals that come in – some that find homes and others that aren’t so lucky – Dr Launders’ message is simple:
“Don’t have an animal if you can’t afford it. Think of the costs of feeding, of desexing, of vaccinating and all of those health prevention measures, and if you can’t afford it, then maybe you shouldn’t have an animal,” he said.
He said that while the health benefits of having a pet are pretty well proven, people need to realise it doesn’t come for free.
“Pets can’t worm or desex themselves; people need to step up and take responsibility for their animals,” Dr Launders said
“You go through vet school thinking that it’s all about the animals, but when you’re practising you learn that it’s more about the people who own them.”
You can contact Cowra Veterinary Centre 24 hours a day on 6341 3113.
You can also contact the local ranger Michael Ryan on 6340 2052.