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Issue Date:- 8 September 2008


EVERY year, thousands of pet dogs and cats are being put down because their owners cannot afford the veterinary fees or ongoing medical costs of looking after their animals.  New research from Sainsbury’s Finance reveals that 1.6 million people have had to put down at least one pet dog or cat over the past 5 years because of this.  In total, the research shows that 927,000 dogs and 822,000 cats were put down for this reason between 2003 and 2008.

These findings are supported by further Sainsbury’s Finance research amongst vets that reveals 51% have had to put a cat or a dog to sleep in the past 5 years because the owner couldn’t afford their pet’s medical treatment.  In addition to this, again because of cost, the research found that there are also many pets with medical conditions who are not receiving the recommended treatment because their owners cannot afford it.  Over the past 5 years, 2.5 million people admitted that they have declined recommended treatment for their pet cat or dog because they simply couldn’t afford the cost.  An overwhelming majority (80%) of vets confirmed that they had encountered this problem over the past 5 years.

Sainsbury’s Finance believes that there are 2 key reasons for this tragic problem.  The 1st is that veterinary advances mean that the cost of vet fees is rising by around 12% per year.  The 2nd is that around 55% of cats and dogs are not insured, so owners cannot rely on an insurance policy to cover all or part of a vet’s bill and without this they may find it impossible to pay.  Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance policy will pay up to £7,500 towards a vet’s bill.

Worryingly, Sainsbury’s Finance believes the situation of pets being put down or not receiving the recommended treatment for their medical conditions could be getting worse.  Indeed, its research reveals that 10% of vets claim that the number of uninsured dogs and cats they are asked to put to sleep because the owners couldn’t afford the treatment has increased when compared to 5 years ago, but only 5% think it has decreased.  Similarly, 14% of vets stated that the number of owners with uninsured dogs and cats who have declined a course of treatment or operation because of cost has increased while only 6% believe it has fallen.

Neal Devine, Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance Manager, said:- “Our findings are very disturbing but also frustrating because in many cases if the owners had taken out good quality pet insurance they would have been able to treat their pet without any problems.  The current credit crunch could compound this situation even further, with as many as one million pet owners looking to reduce their pet insurance cover or do away with it all together.  This is a false economy because when finances become tighter, it is even more important to have pet insurance so that you can pay any unexpected vet bills.”

Regionally, the East of England has the highest percentage of past and present pet owners (12.1%) who have had to put down a pet in the past 5 years because they couldn’t afford the treatment.  This is closely followed by the West Midlands (11.3%) and the South East (8.8%).

Steve Dixon, a leading veterinary surgeon, said:- “Vets are in business to treat and save the lives of animals, not to put them to sleep because of cost.

It can be heartbreaking for the vet and pet owner when this happens, so we always advise owners to take out insurance to help avoid this situation.”

Peter James, Val McDermid and Margaret Murphy Reveal The Forensic Science Behind Their Novels

CRIME fiction will come face to face with science fact on 9 September 2008, as some of the UK’s top crime authors and a group of real-life CSIs put fictional forensics under the microscope.

World renowned scientific institute The Macaulay Institute will delve into the science behind fictional crime, when it presents the ‘Murder, Mystery and Microscopes’ event on Tuesday as part of the annual BA Festival of Science at the University of Liverpool.

The event will involve readings from their novels by three of the biggest names in crime fiction - Val McDermid, Peter James and Margaret Murphy - whilst four of the country’s top forensic experts will be on hand to reveal all about the science behind these stories.  The audience of more than 500 will also see the 1st demonstration of how computerised maps are being combined with detailed information on soil and vegetation types to help the police narrow down areas of search, or even to check alibis – a system that has been developed by Macaulay Institute scientists and their collaborators, supported by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.

Dr Lorna Dawson, Head of Soil Forensics at the Institute said:- “The ‘Murder, Mystery and Microscopes’ event aims to inform and entertain people about the science behind fictional crime, by bringing together crime authors and forensic experts.  We hope to provoke some captivating conversations, intrigue, amuse and enlighten everyone who attends.”

Each author will read out short excerpts from their own crime novels, followed by an explanation of the science behind the fiction by one of the experts.  Amongst the many science areas covered will be cyber-crime, arson, post-mortems, geoforensics, anthropology and DNA analysis.

Author Margaret Murphy said:- “This is a unique opportunity to hear what the scientists think of the way in which science is presented in fiction.  True-crime buffs, crime fiction readers, aspiring writers – in fact anyone who has even a passing interest in crime - will be fascinated by the insights provided by the experts.”

The event, hosted by the BBC’s Quentin Cooper, will close with a book signing by the authors, and an opportunity for the audience to question both authors and scientists. 

Report of a Light Aircraft Crashing on Moss

ON Sunday, 7 September 2008, reports came in to the emergency services, at round 8:45pm, that a local resident had reported the seeing explosions and a ball of fire in the sky over the Moss, just outside Churchtown. A search was then instigated in the area, by Merseyside Fire & Rescue, Lancashire Fire & Rescue and Lancashire Police and Merseyside Police. The search was called off at around 9:45pm, as it was too dark to see and Lancashire Police had had no reports from Air Traffic Control. The search of the area resumed at 8am on Monday, 8 September 2008, but was soon called off again. Lancashire Police Press Office told us that:- "We had reports of an incident and a search was conducted. No wreckage or any signs of an accident has been found. Also, no reports from Air Traffic Control or any log off missing persons have been filed. The log has now been closed and the search has been called off. At this point we have no more information."

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