Since founding Perth Vet Bill Assistance I have seen our concept met with mixed emotion from various people in the community.
There's the good...
"This is a fantastic idea, if we all chip in a little we can help those who don't have a lot"
"We really needed this kind of thing, humans can rely on Medicare for bulk billed services but for pets if you don't have the cash or credit on the spot there is nothing"
"I have been fortunate in my time, it is really great having an avenue to help those who aren't so lucky"
"Whilst I don't agree so much with helping people who should be helping themselves, I don't want to just leave animals to suffer"
"I don't have much myself, but if my pet needed help I would appreciate others to chip in too, so here is my little bit..."
"With all the animals sitting in pounds and shelters it is great to have a way of keeping families together and preventing more surrenders"
"Pensioners make fantastic pet owners, they have the time and adore the companionship. They shouldn't be denied a best friend because they are not 'cashed-up' "
The bad & the ugly...
"Poor people shouldn't own pets!"
"I had to pay my own vet bills, so should everyone else!"
"If they can't afford the pet they should give it to someone who can"
"The pet is old/sick, just put it down"
"That surgery is expensive and there is no guarantee the pet will live, you should have taken on a cheaper case that is assured a more positive outcome"
"Vets should just do the work for free!"
"I pay my Pet Insurance policy, so should everyone else"
All of these types of comments I take in and use to understand who I have on my side, my wonderful army of helpers, and who it is I need to work on so that they understand what we do and why we do it. I listen to negative comments to understand a different mindset so I can figure out what angle I need to come from if I am to turn them around. So ALL feedback is valuable feedback, regardless if I personally like hearing it or not. They say the only useless feedback is the feedback you do nothing with.
No matter what is said, one thing I know is true, Western Australia needs PVBA and I am determined to make sure PVBA grows to have the ability to help all Western Australians.
Has Covoid19 just forced us to take a step backwards in time, to a time where we were more social, less pretentious, and more interactive?
You may be watching the media reports of people pushing each other out the way to get to a pack of toilet paper, or punching each other for the last tray of minced meat, but I chose to turn off the TV and instead turn to social media and read the very positive and heart warming stories that prove to me that the media hype is just the odd story here and there used to create drama and sensationalism to sell a story, to glue us to the TV. The real people are not pushing or punching, they are sharing and caring.
I am in facebook groups that started up with the direct aim of helping people in need that have been affected by Covid19. I have seen people making up care packages of supplies, offering them free to pensioners and disabled, I have seen people giving our medical staff hampers to get them through their late night shifts, I have seen people sharing much sought after items like toilet paper, soap, tissues, and paper towels to those who can't get to the shop in time for the 10 minutes there is stock. I have also seen people displaying lovely gestures of friendship and kinship (we're all in this together) such as leave flowers on a neighbours doorstep, or donate toys and activity items to kids who are grounded within the home, and posting ideas on what to do with your time. Lots of recipes, gardening tips, ways to economise, grow your own food, links to assistance and help.
Overall, I think the community has really pulled together admirably and I am most glad to see that neighbours are now discovering who they are living next door to. One thing that is blazingly different from my childhood to now is the loss of community interaction. I remember neighbours all sitting out front of an evening and adults chatting while kids play, I remember visitors just popping in unannounced which would have our family excited that a normal day just became something much more fun! Dad would fire up the barbie and throw on the 'just in case' tray of snaggers from the freezer, mum would pull out the emergency packet of timtams, the kettle would be fired up, and the kids toybox exploded onto the back lawn so us kids could build forts and play 'war-games'. A normal day became a party. I loved those days. It seems that somewhere along the way we reached a point where every visit had to be arranged with formal gold embossed invitations and carefully planned gourmet menus. Kids activities are carefully planned out and accessories purchased or they are given a quiet corner with an electronic device. Where did we go so wrong? When did it become more about what was there and less about who was there?
It might seem inconvenient or annoying at first, but look at the bigger picture.
I feel this pandemic has taught us to get back to basics and appreciate the important things. As an avid gardener I was devastated to see the veggie seedlings completely sold out in Bunnings, but i just wanted to do my normal seasonal crop plantation. Where did they all go? Apparently everyone decided to grow their own in case the Covid19 'shit hit the fan'. At first I was really annoyed, how dare these panic buyers get in the way of my normal activities! But thinking about it I started to realise what a great thing this is. More families learning about growing their own produce and getting off their lounge and into the garden. Perhaps this will filter out into them realising the importance of protecting bees, wasps, and other insects, perhaps this will filter out into them looking for environmental options, and then - best of all - this might even make them aware of the environment all together! So it is a great possibility that on the flip side we have a much bigger army of environmentalists.
If we have learnt one valuable lesson from Covid19, it is that Community spirit is alive and well, and very much needed in our beautiful state.
Im really proud to say that through this Covid19 fuss, my charity just keeps on keeping on. We are down a few volunteers partly due to personal family crisis and partly due to heightened work needs. This is nothing to panic about, so long as we don't lose anyone we can ride out this storm. One of the important things to managing a team of volunteers is to remember that they are doing this in their own time so be understanding when they have other priorities in life that become more important and work has to take a step back. It is better to be understanding than to lose someone, especially when they are a passionate and dedicated team member. I am so pleased when I see everyone offering help to those who are met with set backs, asking if they are ok, asking if they can help. I think that is an important thing in being a team is that genuine element of caring. I am also really impressed to see others taking on more work to see that PVBA still runs well while we are lighter on staff, some have busy lives and their own personal issues yet they put their hands up to help - bless em x
While the world goes topsy-turvy, pets are STILL getting sick (and some are still doing 'stupid' things, lols!).
Covid19 has affected jobs, homes, stock levels, economy, social events, hell, it has even affected our ability to get a hair cut or fill a prescription. One thing it has no effect on is animals getting sick.
No matter what is happening out there, pets continue to need veterinary treatment. Pets still eat that sock, swallow that tampon, run away and get hit by cars, they still find that toxic plant and decide it is a gourmet delight, they get into fights and need stitches, they have a body that decides now is the time to grow a lump or change organ function, suddenly drop insulin levels, get an ear infection, develop that bacteria filled dental abscess, or rupture that cruciate ligament. There is absolutely no telling where or when something might pop up. I have 4 indoor cats, you would think that being indoors they are less likely to see a vet. That might be so, but those 4 have managed to live so long and healthy that I now have 4 cats all in their mid to late teen years so between them I am constantly running around managing some senior-care related issue. I feel like I get poorer but my lovely vet gets richer, lols! (Truth is, I'm VERY grateful to have her expertise, and that is worth paying for)
So while all these pets across WA are still getting sick and still meeting with unexpected accidents, we are met with a state where many of the population have been left jobless after the forced closure of many businesses and companies, and due to the downsizing of workforce in many organisiations who are having to restructure and adapt to a new way of working. We are left insecure and scared when we are told the unemployment rate could go from 5% where it is now, to as high as 20%. One in 5 of us out of work. I don't know about you, but in a house where we rely on two incomes to manage a mortgage that is scary as hell. In the past, my hubby and I have always paid an extra lump sum into our mortgage and then when emergency strikes like a water heater breaking down or a cat getting sick, we draw on that excess and just see that things get done when they need to. When you suddenly are faced with the thought that you might lose your job tomorrow, you don't want to draw on that excess so much, it could be the bit that tides you over through months of not working, the bit that saves your house. But, when it comes to make or break, and our cats get sick, we will draw on it and do what we can to see they are healthy and our responsibility as pet owners is fulfilled to the best of our ability. But before where we may have opted for those extra tests or the extra nights in emergency care, we might now have to say no or care for them at home ourselves.
But, not a moment goes by that I am not grateful that I am in a position where choices are available to me.
The people who apply to my charity on a daily basis, for the most part, are people who no longer have a choice. They are down on their luck. They have just lost their job. They have Just been left by a partner and have had to start life over as a single parent, same living expenses but half the income. They have met with an accident and are left in severe pain, unable to function or work like before. They are ordinary people like me and you who went to work one day and were told to go home, that due to Government decisions around pandemic management the company they are employed by is no longer allowed to open its doors. They go home, start job hunting, and then the dog gets sick. Its condition rapidly deteriorates, and they know they have to get it to a vet. They are already in debt, they can't get any extensions on credit or loans as they no longer have a job, what can they do? This is their worst nightmare.
We need your help!
We established in February 2014. Over the years we have managed to get word out to some vets but not all. We would like to make sure that all Western Australians know about us through this time of crisis for two reasons:
1) To help them when they need help, so suddenly where they felt helpless, they have a choice.
2) For the chance to reach those who can and want to donate, to enable us to help more pets and people.
This is where YOU come into it.
In order to help all these extra people who are coming to us pleading for help, we also need to increase donations. We need you to talk to people about us. We need you to like and share our social media posts. We need you to tell your vet to look up our website. We need you to support our fundraisers and competitions. There is always something you can do no matter what situation you are in.
All we ask of people is to set up an ongoing donation of $1 a week, just one little dollar. If you go into your online banking and organise an ongoing transfer, you just set and forget and you don't have to do a thing after that. One of the major walls that we are trying to break down is a very common feeling people have to feel guilty for not donating large amounts. So often we are sent a donation with a message "So sorry it isn't more..." NO - Don't be sorry! You donated. That is all we ask for. Even if you are popping 5c into our shaker tin, to us that 5c is valuable. We are so VERY grateful to every one of our supporters who prop us up by arranging those ongoing donations, it is the money that builds in our account and allows us to take on that late night emergency that we do not have a moment to spare in creating campaigns or fundraisers for like we normally would. We have nearly 4 thousand 'likers' on our facebook page, imagine if all those people donated $1 a week? We could easily take on 3 or more cases a week with confidence knowing that we would have money in the bank next week to help more. This is definitely our preferred method of assistance. One off, larger donations are of course wonderful and we are extremely grateful for them, but we cant plan from week to week on those.
It warms my heart that through all the sufferance's of 2020, our regular donators are STILL donating.
Through the horrific Bush fire season Australia just went through, when all Australian charities experienced a significant downturn in support due to the world focus on bush fire relief fundraisers, and the population experienced 'donation fatigue', and now with the Global Pandemic threatening our way of life, our incomes, and our lives, we have a wonderful group of people who continue to support us and continue to donate. I would just like to tell each and every one of you how deeply grateful I am to you for not forgetting us, for believing in our cause, and for helping us to pass on your hard earned money to make sure that loved family members in homes suffering a financial crisis get the much needed veterinary care they desperately require to survive. There are a group of people out there also who I know the minute we announce that we have taken on a case that we need to fundraise for, they will be right there with their purses and wallets open throwing their hard earned cash our way. Those people seriously humble me. That they trust in me to use their money wisely (in this day and age of terrible scams and abuses of online trust) and they trust in this charity that I have built to do what is needed and select the most dire of cases belonging to families who are of the most sincere and desperate need of help, those donations mean so much more than just a gesture of aid. They are a clear sign to me that community spirit is alive and well, and despite all television messages to the contrary, we live in a society where so many of us CARE about animals. This is something that screams volumes to me, and that through all my years as a shelter worker, a vet nurse, a foster carer, a volunteer, and now the founder of an animal charity, the one thing I know for sure is that pet owners really are a united community.
PVBA. Here for Western Australia through these tough times.
Perth Veterinary Bill Assistance Inc. is registered to operate throughout Western Australia.
We remain loyal to the pets and people within WA and in focusing our efforts within our own state we hope that as donations grow we can help more and more people every week.
Our reach is not fixed on built up areas, we have helped people in remote areas and country towns. We have helped homeless people with no address, people escaping domestic violence, and we are always open to assessing any situation - working or not. If you are unsure if you would fit the criteria we urge you to apply for assistance and we can chat further.
if reading this has made you feel like you would like to donate, please select one of the following options:
1) Click our website Donate tab
2) Set up a bank transfer: P&N Bank, Perth veterinary Bill Assistance, BSB 086015 ACC 01904737
3) PayPal: email@example.com
4) Beem It
From Tammy Rodrigues, animal lover, problem solver, cat slave, and founding president of PVBA, I thank you, Western Australia, for your extraordinary community spirit and generosity.
Please take good care of yourselves, of your neighbours, and each other.
And keep supporting animal welfare. Be that voice for the voiceless.
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