Health Card for Pets

3 December 2010 - ANSA.IT

If confirmation were needed that domestic animals are fully fledged members of Italian society, it has arrived with a new digital health card for pets. The card - valid for all pets especially Italian families' best loved four-legged friends, dogs, cats and rabbits - aims to help the authorities avert the spread of dangerous animal diseases by making it possible to set up a national pet-health data bank.

The initiative, launched by the health ministry in collaboration with the Italian National Veterinarians Association (ANMVI), will also enable owners to keep better track of their pets' health.

"This data will permit the ministry to monitor epidemics,'' Health Ministry Undersecretary Francesca Martini explained. ''This will be useful for joint operations by private veterinarians and public authorities." It will also be helpful to have information on the nature of animal deaths from non-natural causes.

"The card will have more data on than we have for humans, who only have a social security card."

The service costs owners 28 euros a year per animal and will enable them to provide a full profile of a pet's health even if they visit a vet who is not familiar with the animal.

It also comes with a toll-free number owners can call in case they lose their pet.

The creators hope the card will help to reduce the number of abandoned animals too. ANMVI Senior President Carlo Scotti emphasized the importance of the move.

"Today we have been able to construct a veterinarian network which allows patients to connect with us more quickly," Scotti said.

Owners wanting to sign their pet up for the service can register on the www.amicopets.it website. After the health card is delivered to the owner's home it will then be up to their primary care vet to register the data in their files on the pet. The information will be available 24 hours a day after that.

According to ANMVI statistics, 50% of Italian households own a pet. If you exclude fish and birds, Italians most frequently own cats (almost 7.4 million), dogs (almost 6 million) and rabbits.

'Unusual' pets are popular too, including iguanas (50,000), snakes (10,000) and other exotic animals (500,000).