Vets drowning in deluge of disaster animal care costs

22 Mar 2022

The AVA calls for Federal Government support for animals in disaster response. 

60% of veterinary practises in QLD and NSW flood affected areas closed, half of those for 5 days or more.

The AUSTRALIAN VETERINARY ASSOCIATION (AVA) recently launched their Federal Election Platform (which can be found here). Amongst the key recommendations, the AVA is calling on the next federal government to cover the costs of essential veterinary care for wildlife and unowned animals in disaster responses.

The current floods across Queensland and NSW have left large numbers of animals needing veterinary care.

Dr Cristy Secombe, AVA Head of Veterinary and Public Affairs, said:

“There are vets right across the flood affected areas of NSW and QLD who are themselves covering the costs of essential veterinary care for animals.

"This is an all too familiar situation. We saw it with the 2020/21 bushfires, we’ve seen it with floods before, and we’re seeing it again now.

“The community rightly has an expectation that these animals are cared for, and the government has a responsibility to step in with assistance.”

Australian veterinary professionals are not protected from the effects of natural disasters themselves. These are the same vets who are then shouldering the burden of covering the costs of vet care for flood affected animals. 

A survey by the AVA of its QLD and NSW members revealed that over 60% of vet practices affected by the recent floods needed to close, with half that number shut for 5 days or more. Their wellbeing and businesses are already under strain because of the direct impacts upon them. Some vet practices have started local Go Fund Me pages so allow them to deliver care to animals in need.

Dr Secombe said:

“Vets should not be having to dig so deeply into their own pockets or set up Go-Fund-Me pages to cover these essential animal care costs. There should be a national framework for vets to access government support quickly to provide essential animal care to those in need”

“In the long term, the drain of high amounts of ‘in kind’ labour is leading to low pay for veterinary professionals and workforce shortages – making it harder for everyone to find a vet.”

“Disasters don’t respect state borders. We need a national approach”

The AVA is asking in its Federal Election platform for:

Recommendation 2.1: Development of a mechanism to allow consistent secure payment for veterinary services delivered in natural disasters and to unowned animals, including wildlife.

Other elements of the platform include:

  • Veterinary mental health
  • Accessibility and affordability of vet services
  • Workforce sustainability
  • One Health
  • Climate change

The full Federal Election Platform can be found online here

AVA Election Platform

Download the AVA Election Platform PDF