ABSTRACT

The views of veterinary professionals were surveyed to inform the New South Wales Government about the extent, cost and nature of services they provide to free-living native animals and their interactions with the volunteer wildlife rehabilitation sector. Our aim was to better understand the challenges faced by veterinarians and veterinary nurses and the veterinary practices they work from. The survey was part of an extensive review of the New South Wales wildlife rehabilitation sector to inform strategic improvements to volunteer standards and service delivery. We found New South Wales private veterinary practices and their staff provide an essential network of support for the rehabilitation of sick and injured free-living native animals. Nearly all responding private veterinary practices provided some type of service pro-bono. The annual value of free services and products was estimated to be $1,038,650. Reported average weekly animal caseload was about five with birds the most frequent patients. Cost of services was the main challenge faced by practices, followed by knowledge and skill of staff. Veterinarians and veterinary nurses considered their formal training to not be very useful in teaching skills relevant to free-living native animals and sought further professional development opportunities in animal assessment, treatment and rehabilitation techniques. Most respondents were satisfied with the standard of care afforded to native animals by volunteers. Complaints focused on delays in native animal pick-ups and communication with practice staff. We make recommendations for improving veterinary capacity and strengthening relationships with the volunteer wildlife rehabilitation sector.

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