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RSPCA slammed over pet insurance mix up over dogs’ treatment

Annette Mills and Freeway

A COCKER Spaniel is in danger of going blind after his owner was told she could not claim for an operation on his insurance.

Annette Mills of Burnham, Somerset took in Freeway in May last year, but by November he was starting to go blind. The previous owner, who moved to Malaysia, had taken out pet insurance with the RSPCA, but because Annette's name was not on the policy she was told she could not make a claim.

Annette said: ‘The insurance ran out last Saturday and I cannot afford the operations. Freeway is practically blind and we have now found out he has a heart murmur. The vet said he hasn't got long.’

Annette took the 10-year-old dog in because she already had another Cocker Spaniel called Ben. She said: ‘Ben was deaf and Freeway was going blind, so they helped each other out. But we had to have Ben put down.

‘I managed to contact Freeway's previous owner in Malaysia and he was on the phone to the RSPCA for 20 minutes trying to sort it out, but it was costing him a fortune. I rang and asked if there was an email address I could give him but they told me they don't have emails.
‘I just want to get past all the red tape. Freeway needs operations on his eyes and now his heart. He walks into things because he can't see. It's not fair on him.’

The 58-year-old accounts assistant says she cannot take out another policy of insurance because they won't pay out for a condition he already has.

An RSPCA spokesman said: ‘The details of Mrs Mills' case have been passed on to the company which used to be the RSPCA's insurance provider at the time this policy was taken out. It would be inappropriate to comment further.’

Ernest Vine of the Self Help Group for Farmers Pet Owners and Other Experiencing Difficulties with the RSPCA (SHG) explained ‘Freeway needs urgent veterinary treatment. He needs an operation to prevent him going blind and veterinary treatment for a heart murmur. Frantic calls from the previous owner in Malaysia to the RSPCA have failed to help. When Annette approached the RSPCA for an e-mail address to try and reduce the cost of the international calls she was told that they don’t have e-mails.’

‘The SHG believes that the RSPCA is under a moral obligation to help Freeway. Why should he go blind and suffer like this?’

Anne Kasica of the SHG added ‘This case shows that pet insurance is not the answer to the spiralling cost of veterinary treatment. The SHG has been campaigning for an Animal NHS for the animals of pensioners for some years now. Just as people’s income drops, their animals reach the age when insurances refuse to cover them any more. There is a huge gap in services because charities like the PDSA will only provide help if people are in receipt of housing or council tax benefit.’

‘Whatever happens do not ask the RSPCA for help if your animal is ill or injured. We have had a series of people who have done just that, believing they were acting for the best, and the RSPCA have prosecuted them instead of helping.’

Mr. Vine explained that in a recently reported case a woman from Cambridge who had not noticed her pup’s collar had become too tight took him to the RSPCA looking for help and was prosecuted and banned from having custody of animals for three years.

‘This means that the family’s Lurcher, which has been with them since 1995, must be rehomed.’
‘Do the RSPCA intend to reason with this poor animal and explain to him why he is being made homeless because of the first mistake his owners made in over ten years? Do they care about the dog’s grief and heartbreak at losing the home and people he loves?’

‘Did the magistrates in that case actually think about the devastating consequences their decision would have on other family pets? Did they even consider the fact that if the poor Lurcher went into RSPCA care, the RSPCA’s own statistics show that any living animal coming into their care has only a 50% chance of life?’

Anne Kasica said ‘On top of this, time after time the RSPCA are prosecuting people who simply do not have the money to pay for private veterinary treatment.’

‘The SHG calls on everyone who was intending to donate money to the RSPCA to instead send it to Annette Mills to pay for Freeway’s veterinary treatment and give him the gifts of sight and life which the RSPCA are denying him.’

RSPCA Press Officer Helen Briggs told OUR DOGS: ‘The RSPCA is extremely sorry to hear that Freeway is unwell. We are currently investigating the situation which we hope to resolve soon.
However, it is important to note that most pet insurance companies require policy holders to inform them of any change of circumstances, including a change of owner, even if the premium is still being paid.’