Old 'ignorant of Brexit impact on pets'

PUBLISHED: 11:53 16 October 2018 | UPDATED: 11:54 16 October 2018

Blissfully ignorant

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Older people are significantly less informed about the potentially disastrous impact of Brexit on their pets, a survey has revealed.

The poll for the National Office of Animal Health showed just 9% of pet owners over 55 believe that the health of the UK’s pets could decline significantly as a result of Brexit, compared with 30% of those aged 18-24.

It comes despite stark warnings that pet owners who want to take their animals to the EU face having to make plans at least four months in advance if there is no Brexit deal.

There are also fears it will mean a shortfall in skilled vets and veterinary nurses, rising costs for animal health products and even supplies running low.

According to the poll, six times as many under-24s say they were aware of the potential impact of Brexit on the supply of animal medicines compared with the 55+ age group when voting in June 2016.

While 44% of young people aged 20-24 would have changed their vote had they known about the potential impact when voting, just 13% of the 55+ age group - who voted overwhelmingly to Leave - would have done the same.

Young people polled were almost twice as likely to believe that the government should abandon the Brexit process compared with the 55+ age group - 22% compared to 13%.

And whereas just 2% of the youngest age group believe that it is not the government’s responsibility to protect the supply of animal medicines, more than 15% of the 55+ age group say the same.

The National Office of Animal Health's chief executive Dawn Howard said the research demonstrated "the significant generational divide when it comes to the Brexit debate".

She said: "However, whilst there may be a difference on some issues, what’s clear is that pet owners of all ages share the same passion and care for their pets.

"The animal health industry must work closely alongside pet owners to ensure the continued high standards of animal care that we offer our pets in the UK, no matter the outcome of the Brexit negotiations."

Campaigners have warned that the collapse of the EU pet passport scheme and the end to free movement of workers would be a “disaster” for the United Kingdom’s 54m pets.

The people behind the Wooferendum Dog March say around half the vets starting work in the UK each year come from the EU, with those workers making up a quarter of the total number of vets in the country.

The also there could be adverse consequences for pet food manufacturers with many reliant on having access to the EU single market and customs union.

Dominic Dyer, a leading animal welfare campaigner and one of the organisers of the event, said: “We know Brexit will be disastrous for the people of Britain but it could also be equally bad for our pets.

“From a shortage of skilled vets and vet nurses to rising costs for animal health and pet food products and even the end of the EU pet passport scheme, Brexit will be disastrous for the nation's dogs and cats and other companion animals.

“If Brexit causes another recession on the scale of the financial crash of 2008, we can expect to see plunging living standards, forcing many people to give up their pets, leaving charities and shelters struggling to cope with the influx of animals in need of new homes.”

A recent report from the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons found Brexit could result in a major barrier to qualified vets from the EU working in Britain and a no-deal Brexit could also result in 40% of animal health products, including vaccines, painkillers, antibiotics and wormers, having potential availability issues.

1,239 UK pet owners aged 16+ were surveyed by Censuswide from September 12-13.

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