Project Hope

Sunday Tasmanian – Pet Column; Anne Boxhall, Oct 9 2016

 

Young Sydney vet Dr Sam Kovac is only 27 years of age.

Like many compassionate vets before him, Dr Kovac will treat wildlife emergencies and the pets of homeless people free of charge. Going a step further, this vet has created Project Hope to help a range of other pets or people in crisis. Distressed by situations where pet owners genuinely could not afford treatment, Kovac was caught up in a bleak life and death dilemma.

To not provide treatment would mean the suffering or death of an animal. Witnessing the owners’ wretched emotions too, financially unable to pursue treatment options for their pet but not wanting to let their pet down was intense and painful for all concerned.

And so Project Hope was born to prevent vets and disadvantaged owners ever having to bargain over life and death. Project Hope raises funds to alleviate the burden on struggling owners so that no animal suffers through economic disadvantage. As well as running the occasional fundraiser, public donations and contributing his own dollars to cover costs at his clinic, Dr Kovac and his vet clinic colleagues have now launched a crowdfunding campaign to enable other vets around the country to provide free treatment where there is genuine need.

This came about following contact from interstate vets and welfare agencies wanting to refer financially disadvantaged pet owners to Kovac’s clinic. The crowdfunding target of $50,000 would foot the bills for local vet treatment wherever the owner is located. Dr Sam Kovac understands that losing your home or income would be one of the worst situations to find oneself in, let alone losing your pet as well.

For more on Project Hope visit southerncrossvet.com.au or Go Fund Me.

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Backflip

The Sunday Tasmanian Oct 23 2016 Anne Boxhall column

Eight weeks ago, NSW Premier Mike Baird wrote this: “When it comes to the greyhound ban, I am more concerned with doing the right thing than chasing votes. If there was any way we could have rehabilitated the industry we would have…this is an industry with no chance of rehabilitation.”

A Special Commission of Inquiry delivered a damning report after 13 months of investigation, 151,000 pages of evidence, 115 hours of video evidence, 804 submissions and 69 individual testimonies. The decision to ban greyhound racing was made on the evidence. The sheer scale of animal suffering and death put greyhound racing into a league of its own. The industry has repeatedly said it is committed improving animal welfare but has consistently failed to deliver.

A recent RSPCA poll found that 64 per cent of the public in NSW and ACT supported the ban on greyhound racing. With a ban being the only thing guaranteeing animals protection from cruelty, the recent repeal of the ban is one in a regrettably long line of flaky capitulations.

Disappointingly, this time it was Baird giving in to media and party pressure and saving his own skin. Instead, huge amounts of public money will now be needed to enforce new rules upon an industry that no longer has a social licence.

Tainted by the use of drugs, live baiting, the amount of animal suffering and wastage involved in generating huge profits for a select few, the majority are turning away from this industry. Interest in greyhound racing is in decline worldwide.

Eventually compassion will prevail and greyhound racing will end in this country too. One day these dogs will no longer be sporting commodities. For more on the repeal of the greyhound racing ban visit www.animalsaustralia.org

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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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