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On The Prowl: Nick Mays

Vets welcome smoking ban

THE smoking ban voted for by Parliament recently won’t just benefit the health of people when it is enacted in 2007, but our pets’ lives too, says leading veterinary charity, PDSA.

“The affects of passive smoking on humans is well documented, but pets are also affected by breathing in second-hand cigarette smoke, so its another good reason to quit”, says one of PDSA’s Senior Veterinary Surgeons, Elaine Pendlebury.

“Pet’s play such an important part in so many people’s lives, and as owners we have a responsibility to care for their health and well-being”.

Dogs are very susceptible to smoking-related respiratory problems and their exposure to tobacco smoke has also been linked to nasal and sinus cancers.

In other pets, passive smoking can even contribute to alopecia (hair loss).

The PDSA advises that if giving up smoking completely is out of the question, there are ways to lessen the affect on pets. Try not to smoke near them, keep all rooms well ventilated and encourage visitors to have a cigarette outside.

Ms Pendlebury added: “Remember that a pet can’t tell us if cigarette smoke is affecting them, but over time their health will suffer. So next time the dog affectionately sits by your side, please think about their health too. Best of all, why not take the dog for a walk to forget about those nicotine cravings instead!”

Charity needs urgent help

AN ANIMAL Charity that helps pets with behavioural problems may be forced to close due to a change of ownership in the premises they occupy, leaving their resident animals homeless and threatening the good work of the charity itself.

Animals In Mind (AIM) is a registered charity, established in 1996, to help animals with behavioural difficulties and also to educate their owners to meet their needs better. Over the past ten years the charity has had numerous success stories, often turning around seemingly impossible cases of dogs or cats that would not respond to other methods of training or ordinary care.

AIM works with other animal charities as well as individual owners. Wherever possible, they try to ensure that problem pets remain in their own homes, although they will arrange re-homing if their owners cannot cope.

Now, however, one of the co-owners of the charity’s premises in Worle, Somerset, wants to sell up and move out. Unless the charity can raise £70,000 urgently, then the resident 11 dogs and 9 cats will be made homeless.

If you can make a donation to AIM to enable them to continue their vital work, please send this to:

Animals in Mind, 31 Magdalen Way, Worle, North Somerset BS22 7PG. Tel. 01934 516714. (Registered charity 1063919). Web site http://www.animals inmind.org.uk/

UK vet students face rising debts

A RECENT British Veterinary Association and Association of Veterinary Students survey has found that the percentage of final year veterinary students who consider themselves to be in serious financial difficulties has risen from 19.9% to 37.7% in just six years. Second-degree and overseas students now average a fifth-year debt of over £68,000, up from just under £25,000 in 1999.
The level of student debt now also shows a marked difference between students at English Universities and those at the Scottish ones. The increase in debt for first degree students over the last six years has increased from between 100% to 300% in the former, compared with between 2% and 36% in the latter. For students studying at the English Universities, the introduction of the £3,000 tuition fees in the 2006/07 academic year will mean average debts increasing to £30,000 on graduation.

Alexis Holley, President of the AVS said: “A huge concern is how rising debts will influence the choice of job for many graduates. 47.8% of students say that their debt will encourage them to work with small animals in order to earn a better salary. This will exacerbate the problem of decreasing farm vets in the country.

“The level of increasing debt in vet students is definitely a worry and could easily get out of hand, especially as it has generally been underestimated by students applying to vet school and in the earlier part of the course. So many students have wanted to be a vet for most of their lives and worked so hard towards getting there. It is such a shame that in some circumstances, money might get in the way of that. Something needs to be done!”

The survey also found that the percentage of veterinary students who are female continues to increase. In 2005, 76% of the students were female, compared to 69% in 1999 and 73.2% in 2002.