Four-month-old Woody receives discounted treatment for fish hook injury

Woody, the miniature Jack Russell, has become the first pet in the country to benefit from Vets Now’s new Angel Fund.

We launched the £200,000 initiative – the biggest of its kind in the profession – last month to help vets save the lives of sick pets who might otherwise face being put to sleep.

Every vet working for Vets Now has been given £1000 a year to provide emergency care to animals whose owners cannot afford treatment costs.

Anneka Phillips, head vet in our Bristol clinic, chose to spend part of her Angel Fund allowance on treating four-month-old Woody after he was rushed in with a fish hook injury.

She explained: “Woody had been fishing with his owner and nephew when he swallowed a hook with some bait on it. He arrived at the clinic late on a Sunday night and it was clear he was in pain and in need of urgent treatment.

“Unfortunately, cost was a massive concern for the owner and he was only able to pay part of his bill. I chose to use my Angel Fund allowance for this case because Woody was a young healthy young dog with a very good prognosis.

Anneka added: “It’s fantastic to hear he’s since made a full recovery. I’m no different to any other vet or vet nurse in that I entered the profession because of my love of animals and desire to save lives.

“As this case shows, the Angel Fund helps us do just that. It’s really is a godsend for clinical staff who are often forced to make extraordinarily difficult decisions when an owner says they can’t afford to pay for their pet’s treatment.”

All of Vets Now’s vets have been allocated an allowance from the Angel Fund. It’s at the vet’s discretion how they spend their £1000, as long as the pets they choose to treat have a good chance of recovery and their owners meet strict financial criteria.

Vet nurses and other clinic staff are encouraged to nominate suitable cases for treatment.

As well as benefiting sick pets, it’s hoped the scheme will help combat compassion fatigue, which often affects people in caring roles and can lead to stress and burnout.

On being given the news that the remainder of Woody’s treatment fees had been paid using the Angel Fund, the puppy’s owner, Arran Dibble, said he was “stunned but hugely relieved”.

He added: “This is a massive weight off my mind. It really is such a relief knowing that we don’t have to worry about the bill anymore.

“I can’t thank Anneka enough. Woody is part of our family and we’d do anything for him – to have the stress of the outstanding treatment fees taken away is just amazing.”

Arran heaped praise on Anneka and her team for saving Woody’s life and described his treatment at Vets Now in Bristol as “outstanding”.

He said: “At first, we thought Woody just had the hook in his mouth but we soon realised it was right down his throat. We cut the line so he wasn’t still attached to the fishing rod but kept a long piece hanging out as we felt it might help the vet pull the hook out. “Anneka somehow managed to thread a feeding tube over the fishing line before following it down into Woody’s oesophagus and detaching and removing the hook. It was a miracle to be fair.”

Laura Playforth, head of veterinary standards at Vets Now, said the Angel Fund has given vets and vet nurses more peace of mind when it comes to treating pets whose owners are struggling to make ends meet.

She added: “The Angel Fund allows our clinical staff to do exactly what they entered the profession for, which is save lives. This is regardless of whether they’re treating a stray who has been brought in by a worried member of the public or a pet whose owners are simply struggling to make ends meet.

“This means so much to them, the pets they see and their owners.”