PETS AND AGEING: Emergency cards for pets alone
PETS left alone when a person is suddenly removed from their home by emergency services or is too ill to cope with the responsibility of the animal, is a concern for many older Australians.
The solution being offered by the volunteer organisation Pets and Positive Ageing and by the Animal Justice Party is a wallet-size card on which a person can record their emergency contact numbers and vet name.
The Pets and Positive Ageing card was developed after consultation with vets, pet support advocates and ACT Ambulance Service operations manager, Mark Molloy.
He recommends the cards should be available through vet surgeries, pet shops and even GP surgeries.
"They can be given be out like medication or alert cards for the patient," Mr Molloy said.
"If this is a matter that causes anxiety and potentially make something think twice about calling an ambulance for themselves, then it can be part of a person planning ahead."
With this card at hand a relative, concerned neighbour or emergency service person can then know what to do to help a pet left at home alone.
Mr Molloy said when the ambulance service is called there are times when they are faced with a patients' anxiety about leaving their pet alone in the home.
"(It would be useful for) a card that goes with or alongside a person's medication list that identifies that there is a pet that requires attention if their owner is removed from the house, and contact numbers for people who are willing to assist," Mr Molloy said.
"We also looked at better knowledge for our crews and the public of care homes or respite care homes that are pet friendly and that removes some of the anxiety of after the initial treatment, potentially if that person is going for further care or going to spend a little time out of their home, their pet can be provided for."
The Animal Justice Party has produced its own animal alert card.
President Bruce Poon explained his organisation's card evolved from a similar thinking process to the Pets and Positive Ageing group.
The card is available from its stall at public markets or by writing to the party.
For both volunteer organisations the distribution of the card is limited to only a small number on hand.
It appears that a much larger organisation or organisations would be better suited to providing and promoting these useful cards.
"They should be widely available," Mr Poon said.
"Vets is a good idea. They can be handed out as a matter of routine at the same as the care instructions."
Another suggestion from Mr Poon is for local councils, who collect pet registration fees, to make these cards available.
The Australian Veterinary Association spokesperson Michael O'Donoghue said the AVA are keen to do whatever they can to support elderly people with pets.
"With elderly people, their pets are especially important to them when they are alive," he said.
"We want to make that a positive experience, not an anxious experience so I am sure we would be motivated to do whatever it took to help people.
"I think it would be a great service for vets to think about."
Mr Molloy strongly recommended that anyone with an emergency pet contact card should keep the card together with their medications list or medications so that they can easily found in an emergency.