PLEASE DON’T NEGLECT PETS IN EASING VICTORIA’S LOCKDOWN

Today, PIAA is releasing an Advocacy Paper arguing for a wide reopening of pet industry businesses across the Stage 4 lockdown area from the end of next week, including mobile pet grooming.

“Greater Melbourne’s roadmap out of lockdown mustn’t neglect the welfare of our domestic animals,” said Barry Codling, president of the Pet Services Association of Australia (PIAA).

“We have a duty of care to the animals we bring into our households and families, to keep them fed, sheltered, safe and healthy.

“The Victorian government’s welcome decision allowing onsite grooming services to reopen from 28 September 2020 recognises these services are essential, and not merely discretionary or cosmetic.

“But much wider support services for our furred and feathered family members can be reopened safely now under the Second Step of Victoria’s Covid-19 Reopening Roadmap,” Mr Codling said.

Other than veterinary care, pet support including grooming, boarding, walking and training has been closed under lockdown.  Besides the loss of thousands of Victorian jobs, many animals have suffered health and wellbeing problems, and many “pet parents” have been stressed about the welfare of their much-loved furred and feathered family members.

“Contrary to the views of some, grooming and other pet services are not discretionary. They are essential to animal health and wellbeing, particularly when their owners are frail elderly, have disabilities affecting mobility, don’t have private transport, or otherwise struggle to care for their pets without assistance,” Mr Codling said.

The PIAA paper outlines the case for reopening these businesses, providing necessary animal health and welfare-related services, as part of the Second Step of the Roadmap.  It includes real-life case studies illustrating difficulties that many animals have experienced.

In the paper, PIAA recommends that the Victorian government:

  • Allows mobile as well as onsite pet grooming, as well as dog walking and training, and pet boarding businesses, to reopen from 28 September.
  • Consults with the pet services industry in the best interests of ensuring the health, wellbeing and welfare of Victoria’s domestic animals as we continue to move through this pandemic.
  • Amends the Victorian Essential Services Act 1958 to ensure that animal welfare is an express category of essential services in relation to declaring states of emergency and disaster.

“The PIAA paper highlights that mobile grooming, dog walking and training are generally done in the open with minimal human-to-human contact, and pet boarding also can involve minimal human-to-human contact,” Mr Codling said.

“The Victorian government’s allowing onsite grooming services to reopen while excluding mobile grooming and other pet services without clear justification is puzzling.”

“There’s no obvious reason why these other services can’t operate immediately provided physical distancing, mandatory face coverings, and other requirements such as the maximum number of people in a given space, are carefully followed, including having an approved CovidSafe plan,” Mr Codling said.

For millions of Victorians, pets are an integral part of their families. Especially for people living alone, isolated from family support, experiencing family crises including domestic violence, or simply struggling to cope with this crazy time, “fur children” are vital companions.

“As voiceless but beloved members of our families, who depend on us to care for their basic needs in return for unconditional affection and companionship, we can’t let our cats, dogs and other domestic pets be neglected any longer if those support services can be provided safely and responsibly right now.”

- ends –

Further information and interview requests:

Jenny Littlewood | 0403 359 864 | jenny.littlewood@communicado.com.au

Alexandra Brudenell | 0402 442 721 | alex.brudenell@communicado.com.au

Link to the Advocacy Paper:

https://piaa.net.au/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/PIAA-Advocacy-Report-Final.pdf

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