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• 51% of vets have put down a pet cat or dog in the past five years because the owners couldn’t afford to treat them(2)
• 80% of vets have had an uninsured dog or cat owner decline a course of treatment because they couldn’t afford it(2)
• Research suggests that the problem of pets being put to sleep or not receiving the right medical treatment because of cost could be getting worse

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(1) 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 five 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 research(2) amongst vets that reveals more than half (51%) have had to put a cat or a dog to sleep in the past five years because the owner couldn’t afford their pet’s medical treatment.

In addition to this, again because of cost, the research(1) 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 five 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 five years.

Sainsbury’s believes that there are two key reasons for this tragic problem. The first is that veterinary advances mean that the cost of vet fees is rising by around 12% per year(3). The second is that around 55% of cats and dogs are not insured(4), 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 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(2) 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 five 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 (5). 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 five 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.”

Good quality pet insurance does not need to be expensive, good cover at a competitive price can be found by shopping around. Sainsbury’s Pet Insurance is designed to offer some of the widest range of benefits available at a competitive price. For further information call 0800 0565758, log on to www.sainsburys.co.uk or pick up a leaflet in a Sainsbury’s supermarket.

-Ends-

For further information, please contact:

Sarah Rowan / Phil Anderson
Citigate Dewe Rogerson
020 7638 9571

Notes to Editors:

(1) ICM interviewed a random sample of 1108 adults aged 18+ who own or have owned a cat or dog in the last 5 years. The interviews were conducted via an online omnibus survey between 21st – 22nd July 2008. Surveys were conducted across the country and the results have been weighted to the profile of all adults. ICM is a member of the British Polling Council and abides by its rules. Further information available at www.icmresearch.co.uk

(2) 100 veterinary surgeons were surveyed in July 2008

(3) Source = Datamonitor

(4) Based on Sainsbury’s Bank analysis of data from GfK NOP. 963 people were interviewed by GfK NOP between 2nd and 4th November 2007. Interviews were conducted over the phone. The consumer omnibus research conducted by GfK NOP uses a large sample size that reflects the demographic profile of GB. Given this it is possible to extrapolate figures and make projections from the research results within appropriate confidence intervals.

(5) Based on Sainsbury’s Bank analysis of research from Deloitte on the percentage of people looking to give up insurance cover as a result of the credit crunch and Sainsbury’s Bank research into how many cats and dogs are insured. Sainsbury’s Bank research was based on 963 people being interviewed by GfK NOP between 2nd and 4th November 2007. Interviews were conducted over the phone. The consumer omnibus research conducted by GfK NOP uses a large sample size that reflects the demographic profile of GB. Given this it is possible to extrapolate figures and make projections from the research results within appropriate confidence intervals.

Sainsbury's Bank Pet Insurance is underwritten by AXA Insurance UK plc which is authorised and regulated by the Financial Services Authority.

Sainsbury’s Bank:

To find out more about Sainsbury’s Bank and see the latest press releases, product rates and photographs, please visit the Sainsbury's Bank online media centre at www.sainsburysbank.co.uk/media.

Sainsbury's Bank offers a range of quality, competitively priced, award-winning products. Sainsbury’s Bank opened for business on 19 February 1997 as a joint venture with Sainsbury's and HBOS.

Sainsbury’s Bank offers the following products:

Insurance: Car Insurance, Life Insurance, Home Insurance, Travel Insurance and Pet Insurance
Borrowing: Personal loans, credit cards and Driveä car purchase scheme
Saving: Internet Saver, Instant Access (branch equivalent), Direct Saver account (telephone) and Child Trust Fund

For further information and general Sainsbury’s Bank enquiries customers can call the freephone number on 0500 40 50 60 or visit www.sainsburysbank.co.uk

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This press release was distributed by ResponseSource Press Release Wire on behalf of Sainsbury's Bank in the following categories: Personal Finance, Farming & Animals, for more information visit https://pressreleasewire.responsesource.com/about.