A specialist small animal referral hospital has launched a memorial tree-planting scheme to acknowledge the key part pets play in providing mental wellbeing support to families

Wear Referrals, which is part of Linnaeus, launched the initiative by planting a dawn redwood tree outside its state-of-the-art hospital in Bradbury, County Durham, in memory of pets who have passed away and in acknowledgement of the importance of pets in our lives.

This comes at a time when mental health issues and social isolation are particular problems as the country continues to adhere to lockdown and social distancing measures in its battle against Covid-19.

Ben Harris, clinical director at Wear Referrals, spearheaded the tree planting initiative. He said: “As well as our own personal experience of our bond with pets, every day we see how pets are central to people’s lives.

“We want to leave a long-lasting tribute to all of those pets who are lost by loving families. For every pet who passes away or is put to sleep at our hospital, we will dedicate a tree with Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust.

“Pet owners will be able to visit the developing woodland in future and will receive a certificate to record their planting.

“We recognise the importance of One Health – a global concept of the links between the health of humans, animals and the environment. This tree-planting initiative will have an important positive environmental impact, as well as celebrating the human-animal bond.

“Of course, our role as vets is to promote and improve animal health, but through that I feel that the crux of my vocation is to preserve and restore the all-important bond between owners and their pets.”

The emblematic tree planted at the hospital has some significance for longevity and hope – the dawn redwood (Metasequoia glyptostroboides) can be traced back for more than 65 million years and was thought to be extinct, only known as a fossil specimen to be extinct until its rediscovery in 1939.

As part of its initiative, Wear has partnered with the Yorkshire Dales Millennium Trust, a charity which supports the people, landscape and wildlife of the Dales and surrounding areas.

Since 1996, it has supported the planting of 1.5 million trees and delivered inspiring projects worth more than £30 million in the Yorkshire Dales and surrounding areas.

These projects cover areas as diverse as countryside apprenticeships, supporting local communities, education and outreach, restoring woodlands and wildlife habitats, and improving access and understanding of this special place.

Sarah Hodgson, from YDMT, said: “It is great to be partnering with Wear Referrals to create a lasting legacy in memory of loved pets, whilst also planting beautiful woodlands for everyone to enjoy.

“The new trees will support hundreds of species as well as helping to mitigate the impact of climate change. They also provide breathing spaces for people to pause, reflect and remember.”

Wear Referrals has multiple environmental and community initiatives, such as being a bee-friendly hospital, their award-winning environmentally-responsible building with a green-roof, solar panels and renewable energy heating source, as well as a scheme for donating old computers to charity.

Darren Stubbs, hospital director at Wear, said: “Wear Referrals provides specialist veterinary referral services in neurology and neurosurgery, orthopaedic and soft-tissue surgery, anaesthesia, internal medicine, and cardiology, as well as providing out-of-hours emergency care for a number of surrounding veterinary practices.

“We’re proud to have the highest number of veterinary specialists in the north-east. With more than 135 employees, we at Wear Referrals take mental well-being and our environmental impact seriously.”

For more information about Wear Referrals, it’s tree-planting scheme and sustainability aims, visit www.wear-referrals.co.uk or search for Wear Referrals on Facebook and LinkedIn.

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