Veterinarians available for essential services only

The clear message from health officials is to stay at home and save lives

Apart from walking your dog, this largely applies to you and your pets except for essential services, which includes emergencies. Veterinarians have been confirmed as part of the essential response team helping to support us all during the COVID-19 crisis, however this does not mean you can drop by your local veterinarian for your pet’s check-up.

The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA), the Veterinary Council of New Zealand (VCNZ), the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and School of Veterinary Science, Massey University want to clarify what constitutes veterinary essential services in the current situation.

“For pets, the only work to be done at this time is treating animals in emergency situations where they are injured – for example, an animal hit by a car – or when there is a genuine risk to their welfare. We are also providing essential services where not providing care will have poor long-term animal welfare implications,” says Dr Helen Beattie, chief veterinary officer at NZVA.

“The message we want to reiterate is for people to call ahead and allow veterinarians to first discuss your situation with you over the phone. If it is a genuine emergency then the veterinarian will arrange to see you and ensure best practice handling methods that will safeguard your safety and their own while attending to the urgent needs of your pet.”

The same principle applies for large animal services.

“Veterinarians can only be on farm for truly essential work while we’re in lockdown,” says Dr Seton Butler, professional advisor at VCNZ.

“Farmers can still call their veterinarians for advice, but you can’t expect business as usual. The focus is on maintaining essential, short-term animal health programmes to protect animal welfare and keep food production going.

“We also want to reassure people concerning the transmission of COVID-19 from their pets. There is currently no evidence that pets or production animals actively transmit the virus.

“Our advice is to follow good hygiene practices and always wash your hands after handling your pet, as a sensible precaution. Remember your pets are part of your bubble so you should observe the usual social distancing rules and not allow anyone outside your bubble to pat or stroke your pet.”

Source: NZ Veterinary Association

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