BVA President tells Stormont guests of ‘triple whammy’ pressures
British Veterinary Association President Justine Shotton has told the BVA’s 2021 Northern Ireland Dinner in Stormont vets here are facing a triple whammy of pressures stemming from Brexit, Covid and a rise in pet ownership.
Addressing over 80 guests at the event, she said that a recent surge in pet ownership during lockdowns has exacerbated pressures on veterinary professionals at a time when they have already been impacted by shortages and urged animal owners to be kind to their veterinary teams during what are very challenging times.
She said: “A triple whammy of Brexit, Covid and a surge in pet ownership has taken its toll on the veterinary profession to levels we could never have imagined at the beginning of 2020.
“I know from the vets I have spoken to in Northern Ireland and across the UK that they have adjusted admirably to new pressures, new requirements, and new measures to keep themselves, colleagues and clients as safe as possible. But it is not sustainable. And as we take these small steps towards the new normal, it’s clear that weathering a perfect storm of pressures continues to be immensely difficult across the veterinary community.”
Addressing guests including Agriculture Minister Edwin Poots, she added: “To us, the paramount priorities are preserving the integrity of the supply chain, supporting agriculture across the UK and – our overriding raison d’être – upholding high standards of animal health and welfare at every turn.
“Ultimately, it is those on the frontline of the food chain – the producers, farmers and vets – who stand to be most affected by any changes. And so I ask those involved in these important discussions to keep the agricultural community front and centre and make sure that there is adequate ongoing support for all those who may be impacted.”
Turning to pet welfare, Dr Shotton recognised that increased demand for pets during the pandemic had unfortunately paved the way for more low welfare breeding and prospective owners unknowingly buying puppies and kittens from disreputable sources.
Reflecting on the recent Spotlight programme on the illegal puppy trade, she said: “BBC NI exposé into the huge numbers of puppies illegally coming across the border is a particularly stark and pertinent reminder to us all that more must be done to enforce rules around the movement of pets.
“We know that there is a huge amount to do collectively to manage these challenges and we’re keen to work with DAERA and others to tackle this trade once and for all.”
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