For injured paws and claws, insurance may come in handy for some pets

By Aleksandra Sagan

THE CANADIAN PRESS

TORONTO _ Monica Finlay’s childhood yellow Labrador, Amy, had a few surprise accidents that cost her parents a lot of money.

“She blew out her ACL and that was really expensive,” Finlay says.

“Then, right at the end of her life, she blew out her other ACL.”

That experience is partly why she and her husband have been spending $45 a month for pet insurance since they got their German shepherd mix, Ozzie, about six years ago.

Pet insurance plans cover some veterinary costs, but pet owners are divided on whether they’re worth it.

Medical costs over an animal’s lifetime can be steep.

Cats cost their owners at least $100 a year, while dogs cost at least $200, according to the British Columbia Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Those numbers only cover routine visits and don’t take into account emergencies, which can add up to thousands of dollars.

Monthly fees vary depending on factors such as the animal’s breed, age and location, as well as what the plan covers. Owners can choose from accident, illness and wellness coverage, which covers the routine visits most plans don’t.

Plans often have a combination of a maximum payout amount each year, a deductible (an amount the owner must pay before the insurer pitches in) and a co-pay (a percentage of the bill the owner is responsible for). Many plans won’t cover future costs for pre-existing conditions.

Fees vary. But the average yearly cost of insuring an adult cat for accident and illness coverage with Pets Plus Us, for instance, is $370, while for a dog the cost nearly doubles to $734.

It’s estimated only about one to three per cent of all domestic cats and dogs in the country have some type of insurance, like Finlay’s dog Ozzie.

Finlay says insurance has covered Ozzie’s roughly $2,500 of annual medical costs since they discovered he has allergies to about 22 things, including beef, chicken and wool.

“It would have been really cost prohibitive to keep him if we didn’t have pet insurance,” she says, adding the insurer pays 90 per cent of those costs save for a one-time $500 deductible.

But not all pets need such expensive, ongoing care and the monthly fees could add up to more than what the insurer needs to pay.

Michelle Van Dyk-Houghton chose not to insure her dog Brooke or her cat Ginger after weighing the monthly cost of insurance versus the potential savings.

Instead, she and her husband set aside $100 to $200 a month for animal care and draw on those funds when needed.

“If we don’t need it, then it’s money that we still have,” she says. “I don’t feel like I’m just giving it to an insurance company to kind of be gone forever.”

Not all pet owners are able to take out insurance though.

When Marli Vlok’s first guinea pig fell ill with what she believes was fibrous osteodystrophy, a metabolic bone disease, she paid more than $900 for Ember’s teeth to be trimmed three times and about $700 for a visit to a specialist.

She looked into pet insurance for her other guinea pigs, but couldn’t find a plan that would cover them.

Vlok routinely shells out between $40 and $70 for vet visits and has paid about $300 for two sets of X-rays for Onyx.

She says she keeps about $500 on hand for vet purposes at all times, but would prefer to pay for insurance.

“They’re one of those pets that you have a very good chance that they’ll be absolutely healthy,” she says.

“But when things go wrong, it’s expensive wrong.”

Baby orca! Last killer whale born at SeaWorld

By Jennifer Kay

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS

MIAMI _ The last orca has been born in captivity at a SeaWorld park in San Antonio, Texas, just over a year after the theme park decided to stop breeding orcas following animal rights protests and declining ticket sales.

The Orlando-based company said the orca _ the last in a generation of whales bred in confinement _ was born Wednesday afternoon. SeaWorld did not immediately name the calf because the park’s veterinarians had not yet determined whether it was male or female.

The mother, 25-year-old Takara, was already pregnant when SeaWorld announced in March 2016 that it had stopped breeding its orcas. The gestation period for orcas is about 18 months.

Preparing late last month for the moment, SeaWorld’s chief zoological officer, Chris Dold, told The Associated Press he expected the birth to be bittersweet, because it would be the last such event at any of the parks. But just hours after the calf was born about 3:30 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Dold said, SeaWorld staff only felt like celebrating. SeaWorld said mother and calf both appear healthy.

“These are extraordinary moments,” he said by phone while travelling to the U.S. from Abu Dhabi, where SeaWorld is developing its first new park without orcas. “It’s a tempered celebration only because we’re focused on the health of these guys.”

SeaWorld decided to stop breeding orcas, and phase out its world-famous killer whale performances by 2019, after public opinion turned against keeping orcas, dolphins and other animals in captivity for entertainment. The backlash intensified after the 2013 release of “Blackfish,” a documentary critical of SeaWorld’s orca care. It focused on the orca Tilikum, which killed trainer Dawn Brancheau in Orlando in 2010, dragging her into the pool before shocked visitors after a “Dine with Shamu” show.

Tilikum, which sired 14 calves over nearly 25 years in Orlando, died of bacterial pneumonia in January.

The newborn calf was sired by Kyuquot (pronounced ky YOO kit) at the San Antonio park by natural means. It brings SeaWorld’s orca population in the U.S. to 23. All the orcas are expected to remain on display and available for researchers for years to come in Orlando, San Diego and San Antonio.

SeaWorld has said it plans to introduce new “natural orca encounters” in place of theatrical shows. This summer, the San Diego park will unveil a new, educational attraction in a revamped pool, and new orca attractions eventually will follow in San Antonio and Orlando.

The calf will be visible to visitors either in the orca stadium pool at the San Antonio park or in two adjacent pools. Observations about the calf and Takara by SeaWorld trainers will be provided from the moment of birth to researchers trying to fill gaps in their data about wild killer whales.

Dold said veterinarians at the San Antonio park told him the calf was born normally tail first after about an hour and a half of smooth labour. Both orcas were swimming calmly, including taking breaths at the water’s surface, and trainers would be watching for the calf to begin nursing.

“Mom generally will rest but she can’t rest too much …. mom’s not holding onto the calf, but it’s riding in her slipstream, and that’s how it gets around,” Dold said. “Our expectation is that all of this will go smoothly, but we take none of that for granted.”

Birth control and “social management” will prevent future orca pregnancies, said spokeswoman Suzanne Pelisson Beasley. SeaWorld has not collected a wild orca in nearly 40 years, and most of its orcas were born in captivity.

Researchers have said they worry that SeaWorld’s decision to stop breeding orcas will slowly reduce their ability to study orca health, growth and behaviour, limiting them in coming years to collecting data from a small pod of aging whales.

Heather Hill, a St. Mary’s University comparative psychologist who plans to monitor the sleeping habits of Takara and the calf over the coming year, said it was frustrating to see research opportunities at SeaWorld undermined by public opinion amid federal cuts to science funding.

“This will be one of the first times we’ll be able to see not just a mother with a newborn calf but also a newborn calf with siblings,” Hill said.

This is Takara’s fifth calf. Two of her other offspring remain at the San Antonio park, while one lives at SeaWorld Orlando and another has been loaned to a park in Tenerife, Spain. SeaWorld has no current plans to separate Takara and the newborn in the future, or to move any of its other orcas, Dold said.

In March, Dold said SeaWorld remains committed to orca research and conservation, calling the last orca birth in captivity “a solemn reminder of how things can change and how things can be lost.”

Origins of the Easter Bunny


He lurks in the shadows . . . a fur covered creature . . . with long, sharp teeth, littering the landscape with painted eggs . . .

Like Christmas, Easter is a hybrid of pagan and Christian beliefs. In Christianity, Easter Sunday celebrates the resurrection of Christ and his ascension into heaven. For Pagans, Easter is a springtime ritual celebrating rebirth and new life, with rabbits (because of their prolific breeding habits) and eggs representing symbols of fertility. In fact, the word ‘Easter’ is derived from ‘Eostre’ the pagan goddess of fertility.

So we see how the rabbit and the eggs came together. But why are the eggs coloured? Precise origins are unknown, but many Eastern Orthodox Christians dye their Easter eggs red to symbolize the blood of Christ, while some pagans will dye their eggs green in honour of the emerging springtime foliage.

The concept of an egg-laying bunny came to North America in the 18th century when German immigrants to the Pennsylvania Dutch area told their children about ‘Osterhas’, or sometimes spelled ‘Oschter Haws’. Oschter means ‘Easter’ in German and ‘Hase’ means ‘hare’, not rabbit, so this Easter ‘Hare’ would bring good children colored eggs and place them in ‘nests’ the children had built in their caps or bonnets.

Happy Easter!

 

Nova Scotia SPCA Launches Pet Insurance Product with Petline Insurance Company

Every pet guardian that adopts a dog or cat from the Nova Scotia SPCA now has the opportunity to purchase lifelong protection for their new pet through Nova Scotia SPCA Pet Health Insurance, launched today in partnership with Petline, Canada’s largest pet health insurance company.

Supporters of the Nova Scotia SPCA can purchase the new insurance product online at www.spcanspetinsurance.ca or by phone at 1-844-737-7387.

“Partnering with Petline to create this product better ensures the continued good health of the pets after they leave the care of the SPCA,”  said Elizabeth Murphy, Chief Executive Officer of the Nova Scotia SPCA. “Support the SPCA and homeless, abandoned, injured animals by purchasing the new Nova Scotia SPCA Pet Health Insurance.”

“Nova Scotia SPCA is a strong brand that has demonstrated longevity and trust, providing humane care to animals for 140 years,” said Rod Cunniam, Divisional Vice President of Petline. “We’re taking our partnership to new and exciting heights with the Nova Scotia SPCA. Through this new product launch, the animals that they care for will receive everlasting care.”

About Petline Insurance Company
As the first and only licensed insurance company in Canada to focus solely on pet insurance, we are dedicated to responsible pet ownership. We help Canadian pets live longer and healthier lives by enabling their owners to provide the best in pet health care. Our core brand is Petsecure pet health insurance. We also underwrite PC pet insurance, Pet Insurance for Hudson’s Bay customers, Desjardins Pet Insurance Program, The Personal Pet Insurance Program and CAA pet insurance.

SOURCE Petline Insurance

B.C. lawyer says pet insurance not worth the cost

Excerpted article was written By Anne Drewa | Global News

When it comes to buying pet insurance and dealing with unexpected medical costs, critics argue you are better off self-insuring.

“I don’t believe in pet insurance because I have seen so many clients who have been on the spectrum of the gamut of people who do not benefit from pet insurance,”  said Victoria Shroff, a lawyer who specializes in pet litigation and an adjunct law professor at UBC.

Shroff has been practising animal law for close to 20 years and has witnessed clients let down by their pet insurance policies.

“It’s there for you when the sun is shining, the umbrellas are handed to you, but when it rains the umbrellas are taken away,” she said.

“That’s the same situation with pet insurance. People think they’ve got coverage, they go in and they need something done urgently with their animal, particularly older animals, and they’ll find – sorry, preexisting condition. We can’t cover you.”

Instead, Schroff recommends setting aside money every month for a  pet emergency.

“Have a specific savings account that you set aside for your animals. Put down $50 to $80 away per month per pet.”

Still, the BC SPCA recommends pet insurance.

“It can help your animal get better care faster and with less stress for you,” Dr. Emilia Gordon of the BC SPCA said. “Typically exclusions fall under a couple of categories. Many times preexisting conditions are excluded. Sometimes breed-related issues are excluded and sometimes it’s for a certain period and sometimes it’s for life.”

When choosing a policy, the North American Pet Health Insurance Association recommends pet owners ask the following questions:

  • Does the policy cover genetic conditions?
  • What percentage of fees will be reimbursed?
  • Does the policy cover vaccines?
  • What is the deductible?
  • Do your premiums change as your pet ages?

Gordon said consumers should read the fine print of any policy and consult with a veterinarian to help sort through the details. Policies are diverse and monthly premiums and deductibles can vary.

Alberta government knew farm worker insurance needed: Report

CALGARY _ A report commissioned by the previous Progressive Conservative government shows it was aware that Alberta farm workers needed workplace insurance protection.

The Sigma Risk Management report, obtained by the Alberta Federation of Labour, was presented to the Tories in February 2015, three months before they were swept from power by the NDP.

The report says about 2,000 farm workers in Alberta suffer a lost-time accident each year and about 20 will die in workplace accidents.

It also notes that Workers Compensation Board coverage would be the cheapest insurance option for small and medium-size farms.

The AFL says its findings repudiate arguments against the farm safety changes that have been brought in by the NDP.

Opposition Wildrose Leader Brian Jean and PC leadership candidate Jason Kenney have both pledged to scrap the NDP legislation known as Bill 6 if they win the next provincial election.

“This utterly repudiates the arguments against basic workplace protections for agricultural employees,” federation president Gil McGowan said Tuesday in a release.

“Anyone who reads this report and still says that Alberta doesn’t need common-sense agricultural workplace laws has no heart.”

Mandatory rules that require WCB coverage for paid farm workers in Alberta have been in effect since January 2016.

The rules don’t apply to farm owners or their family members.

Regulations to cover workplace issues such as overtime, hours of work, collective bargaining, safety education and health rules are being studied by farm, labour and other groups.

The government has said once these groups make their recommendations, the government will give Albertans a chance to respond to draft regulations.

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