Australian veterinarians are a “profession in grief” said Julia Crawford, President of the Australian Veterinary Association (AVA). Vets are dealing with intense grief over euthanizing the massive amounts of injured animals, dealing with the loss of income during what should be their busiest season and some are managing fire damage to their own communities and clinics.
The impact on the mental health of veterinarians working in these conditions is cause for concern; practicing veterinarians are already four times as likely as the general population to commit suicide because of job stress. Psychologists have been offering their time and professional experience to vets on the front lines. Though the ripple effect of the bushfires will be felt for years, vets who feel overwhelmed are encouraged to get help sooner rather than later.
Most vets donate their time and supplies during the bushfire season, but this season has been economically devastating for many of them. There are currently 260 clinics without power and 90 had been deeply affected by the fires, The Advertiser reports. The NSW Wildlife Information and Rescue Service, recognizing how much care veterinarians offer wildlife, will work with the AVA to provide $1 million to clinics affected by the crisis.
The animals in affected areas are most frequently treated for burns and smoke inhalation; many animals have burned paws from running over burning vegetation. Kangaroo Island was greatly affected; vets estimate that they encountered as many as 800 dead koalas, and similar numbers of dead wallabies and kangaroos. Euthanasia to end suffering is common and the decision is usually very clear.
It was reported that most families had made bushfire preparedness plans that included their pets, so the effect of the bushfires on domestic animals has been minimal.
Read more at The Advertiser.
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