Case Study: UK Faces ‘Pet Poverty’ Crisis as Thousands More Owners Forced Into Economic Hardship, Warns Vet Charity

Case Study:

Who: Sophie, a single parent and learning support assistant from Hornsey, North London who lost her job due to Covid-19.

Pet: Skye, a rescue dog Sophie had taken in after her mother died suddenly of pancreatic cancer, to help her and her children cope with the grief. Skye suffered a ruptured gallbladder during lockdown, requiring emergency surgery.

Details: After losing her job, Sophie had no money left and relied solely on benefits for the first time in her life. When Skye became very ill, Sophie was faced with putting Skye to sleep, until PDSA provided free emergency surgery and saved Skye’s life.

The vets had to drain over three litres of fluid from Skye’s swollen abdomen before they were able to go ahead with the complicated surgery to remove her gall bladder.

This condition can very quickly become fatal and Skye’s condition was severe – it was a miracle she survived.

Sophie said: “I’m forever grateful to the amazing staff at Hendon PDSA for saving Skye’s life. Their dedication, professionalism and empathy meant we survived this crisis within a crisis, when all other doors were closed to us.”

For full details on Sophie and Skye’s story, or to arrange an interview/photo shoot with them, please contact the PDSA press office on 01952 797234


PDSA – a charity that provides free and low cost vet care for those who struggle to pay treatment costs for their sick and injured pets – said the financial impact of Covid-19 has led to an overwhelming number of enquiries from pet owners who have hit hard times since the start of lockdown.

PDSA predicts that there will be as many as 50,000 more pets eligible for its services over the months ahead, as a direct result of the economic hardship caused by the pandemic.

The number of people enquiring to check if they are eligible to access PDSA’s services rose by 59% during the summer, which highlights the financial desperation that growing numbers of pet owners are experiencing. And enquiries to PDSA’s Pet Hospitals from owners eligible to access the charity’s services has also increased by 81%, putting even more pressure on the charity’s already busy veterinary teams.

Paul Manktelow, one of the charity’s vets on the front line, said: “We’re experiencing the start of a pet welfare crisis, as a result of Covid-19.

“We’re now facing extremely high levels of enquiries for our services. On average, we’re providing 2,000 remote consultations every day to desperate pet owners in need. For many sick and injured pets, whose owners are struggling financially, PDSA is their only emergency service.”

Jan McLoughlin, PDSA Director General, added: “This winter, we’re facing the biggest challenge in our charity’s history. We’re experiencing unprecedented demand for our services and since the start of lockdown, we have carried out more than 10,000 emergency and essential operations for pets in need.

“During this time, pets have become more important than ever for so many people – providing companionship and comfort and alleviating isolation. But the financial impact of the pandemic is starting to bite. No pet owner should be faced with losing a beloved pet because they can no longer afford to pay for treatment. And no pet should suffer because of poverty.

“I’ve not known a pet care crisis like it in the 19 years I’ve been at PDSA. Without charitable support from the public, our PDSA Pet Hospitals may not be able to meet this additional demand for our services.”

PDSA is launching a Pet Care Crisis Emergency Appeal to raise vital funds so it can continue to care for pets whose owners now find themselves unable to pay for vet treatment.

Paul Manktelow stressed: “We never want to be in a position where we can’t be there for pets that need us; whether that’s today, tomorrow or in the future. Sadly, pets will continue to fall ill or get injured throughout this Coronavirus crisis and many owners will be in desperate need of our help due to changes in their financial circumstances. 2020 has been a hard year for everyone and the pandemic has impacted on all our lives, but innocent pets shouldn’t suffer as a result of their owner’s hardship. As a nation of pet lovers, I hope people will support PDSA’s Emergency Appeal so that together we can reduce the impact of pet poverty caused by the pandemic.”

For more information on PDSA and the pet care crisis, please visit: PDSA.org.uk/whywematter

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