Pet Insurance

Sunday Tasmanian – Pet Column; Anne Boxhall; January 31st 2016

Insurance is one of those things for filing in the ‘lottery of life’ folder.

Not everyone will need it but it’s good to have. Just like other forms of insurance, pet insurance helps cover the cost of the unexpected and indications are that one in every three pets require emergency treatment each year.

More than 63 per cent of the Australian population owns a pet with 53 per cent owning a dog or a cat. The estimated annual spend on veterinary services is estimated to be over $1.1 billion annually in Australia. (Source: TNS, ABS, and BIS Sharpnel estimates 2007).

Pet insurance can be a good investment, helping to cover costs that would otherwise be unaffordable. An overview of common pet insurance claims has the average claim for snake bite at $ 1,619 with the largest claim running out at $9,071 and it’s a similar story for claims on conditions like ear infections, arthritis, diabetes, cancer and others.

It’s worth noting that routine care such as vaccinations and health checks are an additional option and premiums are risk-rated. The older your pet the more premium you’ll pay.

It is near impossible to secure cover for pets over nine years of age. Pre-existing conditions are not covered and some breeds may incur higher premiums. You can lower your premium by increasing your excess.

Most policies offer a cooling off period and cancellation rights. Policies may require owners to pay out the remaining premium for the year if cancelling the policy.

Check the fine print to ensure this is waived if cancellation is due to the death of your pet. Web sites like top10petinsurance.com.au provide useful pet insurance comparison tables for those doing their homework.

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The Age of Empathy

Sunday Tasmanian – Pet Column – Anne Boxhall; January 3rd 2016

Looking for a novel resolution this new year? How about resolving to listen to our inner ape.

According to a growing band of biologists and pyschologists, nature is full of examples of empathy and cooperation from which we humans could learn.

Many non-human animals survive not by eliminating each other or keeping everything for themselves, but by cooperating, sharing and looking out for each other. Greed is out and empathy is in, says eminent academic Frans De Waal, selected by Time magazine as one of the world’s most influential people.

In his book The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society, De Waal suggests empathy comes naturally to a great variety of animals, including humans. By studying social behaviours in animals such as bonding, the herd instinct, the forming of trusting alliances and conflict resolution, de Waal demonstrates that animals, (human and non-human) are “pre-programmed to reach out.”

From day one, humans have innate sensitivities to faces, bodies, and voices; we’ve been designed to feel for one another. Animal nature is characterised as much by kindness and collaboration as it is by competition and aggression.

Drawing from his own research with non-human primates, de Waal found that acting with empathy is as automatic as aggression. For humans and other advanced animals, sharing, compromise and justice matters, a theory which runs counter to the assumption that people are essentially selfish and competitive.

The fields of politics, law and finance often work to uphold this assumption but it’s not all about the darker forces. While competition has been a vital force in the evolution of life on Earth, it has not acted alone. Cooperation too, has played an essential part – just ask the animals.

The Age of Empathy: Nature’s Lessons for a Kinder Society by Frans De Waal                                                  2009 Random House Inc, New York

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Lost Dogs Register

Sunday Tasmanian Pet Column, Anne Boxhall, Feb 7th 2016

This little terrier huddled in the wheel arch of a parked car, terrified by recent thunder storms in Hobart.

It took one hour and the combined efforts of three concerned passers-by over to prise her out of the under carriage of the car, dry her off and calm her down. Good food, good company and a night’s sleep restored her spirits and happily she was reunited with her grateful owner 24 hours later.

On the day of the thunderstorms, the Tasmanian Lost Pets Register Facebook page displayed more than 80 posts on lost dogs, found dogs, dog sightings and deceased animals killed on the roads.

Manager of the Lost Pets Register Toni Johnstone says online activity that day was on a par with News Year’s Eve when large numbers of dogs were panicked by fireworks. The noise of thunder and fireworks can cause panic in even the most laid-back of dogs. Adrenalin kicks in and animals jump fences they wouldn’t normally be able to scale.

Dogs flee in fear and some have been known to swim far out to sea, necessitating rescue by boat. Tethered dogs have been known to twist on their collar and choke.

So the clear message this Regatta Day fireworks weekend is – keep your dog safely confined inside on Monday night.

To post on lost or found pets, message the Register at www.facebook.com/Tasmanianlostpets  The Lost Pets Register is operated entirely by a team of unsung volunteers who handle around 1,000 lost and found posts per month across the state, reuniting many dogs and owners along the way. The team also provide a range of resources relating to lost and found pets and their valuable work has been recognised with a grant from RACT Community Fund.

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Workplace Foster Care

Sunday Tasmanian Pet Column – Anne Boxhall April 3rd 2016

Meet mother and son Beans and Maple, the face of foster care in the workplace. These two are promoting the benefits of giving rescue pets a temporary home in the office while they wait to be adopted into a domestic household.

Companies are being encouraged to give foster animals a helping hand and simultaneously boost staff morale. The program is being championed by Pet Rescue, an organisation providing on-line exposure for animals in the care of shelters and rescue groups across Australia.

Pet Rescue spokesperson John Bishop says fostering in the workplace is a great way to develop and strengthen bonds between colleagues, get everyone engaged in office life, and bring some super stress busting happiness into the office environment. Studies suggest that a pet friendly workplace decreases stress, improves morale and productivity, reduces absenteeism and increases staff retention rates.

At the same time, individual staff members have the opportunity to really get to know the rescue pets and ultimately help find them a new permanent home. The right animal in the right workplace connects people to people and people to animals. It fits perfectly with a new push to incorporate natural elements into busy human lives.

Psychologists and sociologists are researching our need to connect with nature and the impacts of it on our thinking, creativity, social skills and mental health.

Health researchers are looking at how much more productive we might be if plants and animals are incorporated in the office, along with fresh air and outside views of something natural rather than man-made.

Workplace foster could work for businesses, staff, rescue pets, shelters, rescue groups and even researchers. For more on workplace foster care visit www.petrescue.com.au/library

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Political Animals

Sunday Tasmanian – Pet Column, Anne Boxhall; July 10th

Vote One for the Sausage Sizzle is the likely pitch of dogs attending polling booths with their humans last weekend.

All over the country, dogs became the stars of election day as their photos were posted on Twitter using #DogsAtPollingBooths. Some posed near signage endorsing their owner’s favoured candidate, others were pictured scanning how to vote cards, but most turned their attention to the aromas wafting from the sausage sizzle tent.

Dogs of all ages, shapes and sizes became political animals, despite being unable to vote.

In the absence of the ‘Butcher’s Party’, it begs the question who would our canine friends vote for if they could? Would the Animal Justice Party (AJP) top their list perhaps?

The failure of the major parties to safeguard animals in the areas of live export, greyhound racing, factory farming, hunting and puppy farming has given rise to this political voice for animals.

In 2015 an AJP candidate was elected to office in New South Wales state elections. Pro-animal bills have already been introduced in the NSW Parliament to address issues relating to factory farming and experimentation on primates. The AJP envisages a legal system which protects the interests of people, animals and their environments and similarly a political system which enables people to effectively express concerns about the treatment of animals and have issues dealt with in a transparent and accountable way.

For more on AJP, visit animaljusticeparty.org   And for those dogs who have seen a few polling booths in their time and are still waiting for their pork barrel and democracy sausage, next time is your time to make a stand and vote one for the sausage sizzle.

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Greyhound Ban

Sunday Tasmanian – Pet Column, Anne Boxhall,  July 17th

The decision to ban greyhound racing in New South Wales has generated lively social media in recent weeks.

Inevitably, those owners and trainers who haven’t been breaking the rules are venting widely. Their anger would be best directed towards those in their own industry whose cruel practices led to the ban in the first place.

Premier Mike Baird was well aware that for too long, too many people knew what was going on and didn’t do enough to reform greyhound racing even though the industry had many chances to reform itself.

The NSW special commission uncovered systemic cruelty, intentional deception and illegal activity. Even after the Four Corners investigation and with full knowledge of the inquiry, the commission’s report found trainers were still using live baiting and flouting the rules.

It’s widely held that this culture of deception and mistreatment of dogs runs too deep right across Australia and other states must follow New South Wale’s lead. Premier Baird admirably banned the industry rather than derive gambling revenue from such shameful animal welfare practices.

Meanwhile some within the industry are claiming alarm at the prospect of greyhounds being killed due to the ban. Are these the very same owners and trainers who have been insisting they love their greyhounds and that these dogs are part of their family? If so, why not simply keep their dogs.

Bear in mind that if lives were lost as a result of the shutdown, it would be a very small fraction compared to the lives lost if the industry had continued.

For any doubters, the full review is available here: www.greyhoundracinginquiry.justice.nsw.gov.au  Strategies for rehoming existing racing dogs will be in play over the next twelve months enabling many more people to be smitten by the considerable charms of pet greyhounds.

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Workplace Foster Care

Sunday Tasmanian column by Anne Boxhall, April 3, 2016

Meet mother and son Beans and Maple, the face of foster care in the workplace. These two are promoting the benefits of giving rescue pets a temporary home in the office while they wait to be adopted into a domestic household. Companies are being encouraged to give foster animals a helping hand and simultaneously boost staff morale.

The program is being championed by Pet Rescue, an organisation providing on-line exposure for animals in the care of shelters and rescue groups across Australia. Pet Rescue spokesperson John Bishop says fostering in the workplace is a great way to develop and strengthen bonds between colleagues, get everyone engaged in office life, and bring some super stress busting happiness into the office environment.

Studies suggest that a pet friendly workplace decreases stress, improves morale and productivity, reduces absenteeism and increases staff retention rates. At the same time, individual staff members have the opportunity to really get to know the rescue pets and ultimately help find them a new permanent home. The right animal in the right workplace connects people to people and people to animals.

It fits perfectly with a new push to incorporate natural elements into busy human lives. Psychologists and sociologists are researching our need to connect with nature and the impacts of it on our thinking, creativity, social skills and mental health. Health researchers are looking at how much more productive we might be if plants and animals are incorporated in the office, along with fresh air and outside views of something natural rather than man-made.

Workplace foster could work for businesses, staff, rescue pets, shelters, rescue groups and even researchers. For more on workplace foster care visit www.petrescue.com.au/library

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Filed under Animal Advocacy, Anne Boxhall column, Fostering, Uncategorized