An RSPCA veterinary clinic in North Wales has said it will close in 18 months if it does not start making a profit due to cost of living concerns and a shortage of vets.
Clwyd and Colwyn Animal Welfare Clinic, based in Rhyl, provides veterinary/financial assistance to help the most needy animals in the area.
During the pandemic, as the only RSPCA veterinary clinic open in North Wales, they have seen animals from all over, including Wrexham and Flintshire.
The clinic has seen a huge increase in demand since January, welcoming more than 100 new clients each month.
As a charity, the clinic strives to keep prices as low as possible, but as a result, with the rising cost of energy and pet medicine, it has been operating in deficit since January.
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Kieren Barlow, branch manager for RSPCA Clwyd and Colwyn, said: “This clinic will likely operate, if it doesn’t start making a profit, for the next 18 months.
“What will happen after that, I don’t know.”
The clinic is open to people on low income and in receipt of at least one of the following means-tested benefits, Income Support or In-work Tax Credit, Jobseeker’s Allowance, accommodation, housing tax allowance, pension credit.
While the cost of living is a major concern, he also said, “There is a shortage of vets which is having a ripple effect everywhere.”
Mr Barlow is worried about how the shortage they are experiencing will affect those in need in the community.
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He said: “We have to close for two days in August because I can’t find a vet to work on those days.”
He continued: ‘As a charity there’s not much we can do – if I take a vet who charges £400 a day, some days we don’t even make £400 a day.
“So we lost, but at least the animals show up.”
Data from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons indicates that there has been an increase in the number of registered vets in Wales, as well as Wrexham and Flintshire, over the past five years.
However, with the huge increase in the number of households with pets since 2020, it may not meet current demands.
According to PDSA, the veterinary charity People’s Dispensary for Sick Animals, two million owners (or 9% of all owners) acquired their pets over a 14-month period from March 2020 to May 2021.
British Veterinary Association Wales Branch President Collin Willson said: “The veterinary profession has come under immense pressure in recent years.
Mr Wilson continued: “He acted quickly to adapt to Covid-19 restrictions and an unprecedented rise in pet ownership, and is now dealing with the ongoing fallout from Brexit.
“All three have had a significant impact on numbers and capacity within the profession.
“Covid restrictions created difficult staff shortages at a time when more and more people were welcoming new pets into their families.
“Brexit has exacerbated existing recruitment and retention issues in the sector, increasing labor demands, such as more documentation required to certify livestock, animal products and pets before trade or travel, while the number of vets coming to the UK from the EU has dropped significantly. .
“Which impact is felt even more in rural and remote communities.
“We are also increasingly concerned about the emerging impact of the cost of living crisis on pet owners and their ability to care for their pets.
“Vets tell us they are already seeing animal welfare compromised, with some owners delaying seeking help due to financial hardship or worryingly seeking to treat animals themselves after an online search.
“These are difficult times for all of us vets and pet owners.
“Veterinarians understand that some pet owners may be in financial difficulty and will always be able to discuss treatment options and help owners make the best possible decision for their pet, taking into account all considerations.
“There are also veterinary charities that can provide support in certain circumstances.”
“It is important to remember that vets and veterinary teams are also dealing with the fallout from the cost of living crisis – and not just financially.
“Unfortunately, many veterinary teams have negative experiences, with some reporting being stalked online, being verbally or even physically attacked.
“We understand that going to the vet can be a stressful and upsetting time, but we ask owners to remember that their vet will always do their best to help and that they also deserve to be treated with kindness and respect. ”
The Clwyd and Colwyn RSPCA Veterinary Clinic is currently looking for volunteers for Reception, which would involve looking after customers, answering telephones and holding animals at the vet.
In addition, they are looking for volunteers in their charity store, sorting clothes, dealing with customers and collecting payments.
Mr Barlow said: “Ideally we would like volunteers to volunteer at least one full day a week.”
Those interested in volunteering can contact [email protected]