With pet stores on the list of retail stores that are permitted by government to stay open, AMTRA has highlighted that for business that are staying open, they should do so in such a way as to protect the health of employees and customers, implementing the social distancing advice of government.
Stephen Dawson, AMTRA’s secretary general, said “It would be sensible, and recommended by AMTRA, for such opening to be limited to urgent supplies of key necessities (such as medicines, food, bedding), not for everything normally supplied.
“People involved in the supply of veterinary medicines or animal food (e.g. RAMAs/SQPs) are included in the definition of “key workers”. But that phrase was particularly used in the context of allowing children of such workers to continue to be at schools: the separate government advice about which stores can stay open says nothing about key workers.
“This leaves agricultural and equine businesses in an ambiguous situation – we are seeking more clarity which we hope will come soon.”
Working within the rules
Mr Dawson continued: “Supply by mail order (telephone order or internet), meeting the normal requirements for RAMA/SQP involvement and record keeping, is fine, and helps meet immediate needs, but it’s not clear it is viable for the full range of products that support animal health and welfare across the country.
“For the moment, some businesses are choosing to pick goods after a telephone conversation with the RAMA/SQP and leave them somewhere appropriate (e.g. outside the store door, in the yard) for customers to pick up.”
If the only available RAMA/SQP is self-isolating, that creates another issue in the current rules, since the RAMA/SQP is currently required to supervise the allocation of stock to customer.
Mr Dawson said: “We are expecting proposals from the VMD to allow RAMAs/SQPs to prescribe and authorise supply remotely, but await clarification on this.
“Until and unless VMD changes those rules, the SQP is still responsible for the prescription and supply and therefore must:
- be the person that has the conversation/consultation with the animal owner;
- be the person that makes the prescribing decision;
- be satisfied that the person handing over or dispatching the prescribed product is competent to do so.”
Mr Dawson added: “As we move forwards there may well have to be a broader view on prescribing, to ensure essential products are being supplied in order to protect animal health and welfare, but for the meantime, we ask that all SQPs/RAMAs adhere to advice as provided by employers, and we are working closely with AHDA to provide clarity as soon as possible.”