Compassionate pet owners in Nottingham are to help care for the health of animals belonging to vulnerable and homeless people living in the city, thanks to a new charitable initiative by The University of Nottingham and a local veterinary surgery.
People bringing their cats and dogs to Rushcliffe Vets in West Bridgford for their annual vaccinations will pay an extra pound (inc VAT) on top of their normal fees through the Pay-It-Forward Vets Initiative.
The generous veterinary surgery will match the donations and the money collected will be used to buy vaccinations to offer free treatment for animals of clients using the Vets in the Community clinic run by academics and students at the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science and based in the Big Issue’s Nottingham headquarters.
Dr Jenny Stavisky, Clinical Lecturer in Shelter Medicine who heads up the Vets in the Community clinic, said: “The pay-it-forward initiative which Rushcliffe Vets is pioneering is a generous gesture and represents sustainable support for our initiative going into the future.
“It’s a great example of how vets and pet-owning individuals are helping owners who are struggling with homelessness care for their animals by adding a little to the cost of their own pet’s vaccine. It actually helps everyone – the more animals in the area that are vaccinated, the less risk for everyone’s pet. I really hope other practices in the area, and areas where similar community initiatives exist, are inspired by Rushcliffe’s fabulous example.”
Giving something back
The idea for the initiative came from Jeanette and Bill Bowler, owners of the family-run Rushcliffe Vets practice on Collington Way in West Bridgford. The practice already supports a number of charitable ventures including sponsoring a former bile bear that has been rehabilitated by Animals Asia and working with organisations including Dogs Trust in Wymeswold and Nottingham’s Animal Accident Rescue Unit.
However, when they heard about the Vets in the Community scheme being run by old friend Jenny, they spotted another opportunity to give something back.
Bill said: “We already support international and national causes but this felt like the ideal way for us to do something that could really make a difference a little closer to home.
“For many people who are homeless, their animals play a huge psychosocial role, offering them friendship, comfort and unconditional love in often very difficult circumstances. But very often they simply do not have the money for veterinary care such as vaccinations for their pets, which put the animals at risk of contracting serious diseases.
“This is a really simple way that people can make a small donation that won’t break the bank but will have a huge impact for this worthwhile cause.”
The Vets in the Community scheme was launched in 2013 as a way of delivering free healthcare to the pets of homeless and vulnerably-housed people living in Nottingham.
The clinic also helps to benefit the education of students studying at the University’s School of Veterinary Medicine and Science. Under the supervision of qualified vets, the students provide health checks and treatments for simple conditions such as ear and eye infections, as well as delivering preventative care including vaccinations and flea and worm treatments. Donated pet food and blankets are also distributed, so that owners don’t have to go without to keep their pet fed and warm.
The students gain valuable practical experience - from ordering the drugs to managing the clinic - while also developing their communication and organisational skills.
Since its launch, the clinic has offered more than 650 consultations (around 15 to 30 per month) by more than 140 student volunteers and has obtained cat and dog neuter vouchers, paid for by Cats Protection and the Dogs Trust, which has helped to reduce unwanted litters and difficult behaviours.
Students have undertaken a range of charitable activities including supermarket bag packs, marathon running and a London to Paris cycle ride which have raised in excess of £4,000 in funding to keep the clinic doors open.
People who cannot take their pets along to Rushcliffe Vets for their vaccinations, can still support the Vets in the Community clinic. They can follow their activities on Twitter, Facebook, purchase items via the Clinic’s Amazon Wishlist and donate via its JustGiving page.
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham has 43,000 students and is ‘the nearest Britain has to a truly global university, with a “distinct” approach to internationalisation, which rests on those full-scale campuses in China and Malaysia, as well as a large presence in its home city.’ (Times Good University Guide 2016). It is also one of the most popular universities in the UK among graduate employers and the winner of ‘Outstanding Support for Early Career Researchers’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2015. It is ranked in the world’s top 75 by the QS World University Rankings 2015/16, and 8th in the UK by research power according to the Research Excellence Framework 2014. It has been voted the world’s greenest campus for four years running, according to Greenmetrics Ranking of World Universities.
Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest-ever fundraising campaign, is delivering the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…