Calls on federal parties to make veterinary care tax deductible, fund more vets.
The Regional Animal Protection Society has called on federal political parties to help Canadian households with companion animals by making veterinary care expenses tax deductible. The organization, one of Canada’s largest and most innovative no-kill animal-serving agencies, also asks federal officials to work with the provinces to address a critical shortage of trained veterinarians across the country.
“Too many healthy animals in Canada are dying because their people cannot afford the medical care their pets need,” says Eyal Lichtmann, CEO of the Regional Animal Protection Society (RAPS). “We have written to all the major federal parties asking them to address this issue, which is exacerbated by a shortage of veterinarians across Canada.”
Companion animals have enormously positive impacts on the health of Canadians and, by extension, on our healthcare system, saving federal and provincial governments incalculable millions of dollars. (See below.)
RAPS has released a white paper, “Economic Euthanasia: Causes and Resolutions.” This comprehensive document addresses the serious economic challenges that lead to the deaths of thousands of animals annually. It includes recommendations and steps that can be taken by pet guardians, veterinary professionals, corporations and insurers, and governments and regulatory bodies to address this issue.
In the report, RAPS calls on federal parties to:
- Recognize the positive impacts of companion animals on human health by making veterinary expenses tax-deductible.
- Address a serious and dangerous shortage of veterinarians across Canada by working with the provinces to fund and train more veterinarians.
- Require publicly funded shelters for victims of domestic violence to accommodate companion animals.
- Recognize that a majority of Canadian households include at least one companion animal, and consider the impacts on animals in all policy deliberations.
In addition to steps the federal government can take to reduce economic euthanasia, the report offers steps to confront the economic challenges that result in needless death, including actions that can be taken by:
- Pet guardians
- Veterinary professionals
- Corporations, employers and insurers
- Regulatory bodies and all levels of governments
The white paper, “Economic Euthanasia: Causes and Resolutions,” is a public document with extensive recommendations for all Canadians to address unnecessary euthanasia, reduce or manage the costs of care and recognize the social, health and economic benefits of companion animals.
Measurable health benefits companion animals bring to humans include:
- Dog companionship has been associated with decreased cardiovascular risk. Recent reports have suggested that people with dogs experience lower blood pressure levels, improved lipid profile, and diminished responses to stress.[i] Individuals with dogs, according to a British study, are four times more likely to meet recommended physical activity guidelines than individuals without dogs.[ii]
- Individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder who live with a dog experience less anger, anxiety, sleep disturbance and alcohol abuse.[iii]
- In older adults, animals provide proven therapeutic results, particularly among those affected by cognitive disorders and other psychiatric disturbances.[iv]
- Interaction with animals has also demonstrated statistically significant decreases in agitated behaviours and a statistically significant increase in social interaction among seniors with dementia.[v]
- People with cats are 40% less likely to have a fatal heart attack than people who do not live with cats, and are more than 30% less likely to have a stroke.[vi] Among those who do have a heart attack or stroke, returning to a home with a pet portends a significantly greater chance of long-term survival from the health crisis.[vii]
- Infants who grow up with pets are half as likely to have allergies and risk factors for asthma as those who grow up without pets.[viii]
- 89% of victims of domestic violence also witness animal abuse or mistreatment. As a result, upwards of 59% of women who experience domestic violence delay leaving an abusive situation if they must leave their pet behind. [ix]
The Regional Animal Protection Society, based in Richmond, B.C., is a registered charity that operates the RAPS Cat Sanctuary, the RAPS Adoption & Education Centre, a fostering network, social enterprise thrift stores and the full-service, community-owned RAPS Animal Hospital. RAPS began more than 25 years ago and has grown into one of Canada’s largest and most innovative animal-serving agencies.
RAPS is a no-kill animal-serving agency. Under our care, no animal is ever euthanized due to lack of space, treatable illness, physical defect, age, behavioural or socialization issues.
RAPS serves the entire province of British Columbia, especially welcoming animals from jurisdictions where they face euthanasia. We believe that where an animal lives should not determine whether an animal lives.
RAPS also understands that caring for animals often includes caring for their people. We have an extensive network of supports for households with low incomes or facing other challenges, assistance of homeless shelters, partnerships with women abuse centers and assistance to many other organizations to ensure that no one is forced to make life-and-death choices about their companion animal based on ability to pay.