A Dorchester veterinary practice is offering substitute pets to owners while their beloved animal is being treated. Cat owner Jenny Newby was amazed at what happened when Tuna, her 12 year old tabby, was checked in for a routine operation at the Church Street Clinic.
‘I was signing the consent forms when the receptionist, Jacqui, produced a basket and told me that I was entitled to a courtesy cat while Tuna was in their care,’ said Mrs Newby, 47. ‘Apparently all I had to do was return her in good condition and filled with the same amount of food, which they estimated at half a stomach.’
‘Obviously, the courtesy cat was not as big as Tuna,’ she continued, ‘but she was much newer and could be quite nippy when called upon. Also, she was fitted with range of extras including a remote cat flap opener and satellite navigation, so she could find her way to our home while staying with us.’
Mr Newby was pleased too: ‘It purrs along nicely, and in performance terms it pisses all over the heap outside our neighbours’ house, or the rockery as they call it. As a bonus it craps on their lawn too. I’d trade in the old one for one of these, but the wife’s sentimental about such things and even gives them names.’
Practice manager Eric Crawford said the scheme had started when breeding females came in for servicing and had proved so popular it had been extended to all customers. ‘We even provided a courtesy carp for a fish lover recently,’ he said, ‘and the new courtesy carcass scheme for bereaved owners is proving very popular. When a pet dies in our surgery it’s usually in a pretty bad state, but we have some nice ones in the freezer to help get them over that first 24 hours.’
Mr Crawford was keen to stress that the Courtesy Pet scheme was absolutely free. ‘We believe you can’t put a price on compassion and peace of mind,’ he explained, ‘provided that the customer has taken out our Pet Insurance Plan which is available from a modest £39.99 per week.’
Meanwhile, Mrs Newby said although she had appreciated the courtesy cat, she was delighted to get Tuna back, saying, ‘She looks better than ever, thanks to the valet clean.’