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Cate Morrison (67) emailed Seniors Minister Maggie Barry last month, asking for the Ministry of Social Development for a loan she could pay back from her pension so she could buy medication for her dog, Golly.
The 7-year-old bearded collie was born with osteochondritis dissecans — a disease of the cartilage affecting his leg joints.
If she could not get the medication, she would have to put down Golly to end her dog’s pain, she said holding back tears yesterday.
In the email, Ms Morrison detailed how the loan would enable Golly to continue to provide her companionship, emotional support, reducing her stress levels and sense of loneliness.
A written response from Ms Barry earlier this month said although she was ‘‘a strong advocate for reducing social isolation and pets do play an important part in this’’, no assistance was available through the social security system towards the payment of veterinary fees.
However, Ms Barry had a change of heart after the Otago Daily Times asked her yesterday why the loan request was declined.
Ms Barry said she asked Ministry of Social Development officials to talk to Ms Morrison ‘‘to see if there is a way we can support her and help with the vet bills’’.
When Ms Morrison first raised the issue with her, Ministry for Social Development, officials were unable to identify Ms Morrison to review her situation, Ms Barry said.
The ministry staff were able to identify her yesterday and with appropriate supporting evidence from her doctor, the ministry might be able to help her with Golly’s medication costs, Ms Barry said.
‘‘I’m advised that financial assistance is considered on a case-by-case basis and assistance with the cost of a vet bill could be provided if it was identified that there was an immediate need for this and it was considered an essential item or service.’’
Ms Barry had asked Ministry of Social Development officials to secure more SuperGold Card discounts for vets and bigger discounts on existing SuperGold Card offers.
Ms Morrison said she was ‘‘over the moon’’ and ‘‘very grateful’’ the minister reversed her decision.
She hoped the decision would spur other pensioners with pets and struggling to pay vet bills to approach the ministry for a loan.
The Government loaned pensioners money to pay for other services such as dentistry or optometry and ‘‘I want the same for vet bills,’’ she said.