Victoria’s roadmap out of Stage 4 lockdown must not ignore the welfare of ourdomestic animals as well as people, says industry peak body, the Pet IndustryAssociation of Australia (PIAA).

“During the Covid-19 pandemic we’ve seen many people turn to animalcompanionship to help them get through a very tough time,” said PIAA nationalpresident, Barry Codling.

“Just like their owners, pets need to be properly fed, exercised and caredfor.

“This isn’t just about veterinary and feed services, but access to othersupplies and services that ensure domestic animals can live happily andhealthily, even in the midst of this pandemic.”

“Even grooming and walking services are essential for many companion animals,”Mr Codling said.

“For example, if a pet owner is frail and elderly, and can no longer properlygroom and exercise her beloved dog, she needs help in caring for thatcompanion animal, just as much as they need help with caring for themselves.

“But in a crisis like this pandemic, these services are too easily under-valued when governments make decisions about what businesses can remain fullyor partly open, and which cannot,” Mr Codling said.

With the Victorian government planning to release its roadmap out of thecurrent lockdown on Sunday, including its plan to reopen the state’s economy,Mr Codling said it is highly important to treat domestic and companion animalhealth and welfare services as essential and not discretionary.

“We call on the Premier, Mr Andrews and the Minister for Jobs, Mr Pakula, toinclude pet services businesses in their roadmap and economic recoveryconsultations, and ensure the health and welfare needs of domestic animals, aswell as livestock, are fully respected in all future decisions about extendingVictoria’s State of Emergency and State of Disaster,” Mr Codling said.

PIAA is also calling for Victoria’s essential and emergency serviceslegislation to be amended after this emergency passes, to ensure that animalwelfare is specifically defined as an essential service in any future state ofemergency.

“It’s vitally important, in times of grave emergency, that meeting the basichealth and welfare needs of Victoria’s domestic and companion animals does notdepend on the discretion of ministers and officials, but is unambiguouslylegislated as a category of essential service,” Mr Codling said.

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