From saving lives to matchmaking: it's all in a day's work for a Beijing vet

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 03 October, 2004, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 03 October, 2004, 12:00am

Q: Why did you choose to work for a pet hospital?

A: I was born in a remote village in Anhui province . I spent a lot of time with my parents' sheep and chickens when I was young and developed a special love for animals from that age. After I graduated from an agricultural college as a vet, I joined this pet hospital in Beijing. I have never forgotten my oath to use my knowledge and education to protect animals in any way possible.

Q: What kind of pets do you most often see at the centre?

A: They are normally cats, dogs, birds and tortoises. I've also seen people bring in a snake for medical treatment.

Q: Who are the pet owners? Are they mostly wealthy people?

A: There are some rich women but most of them are ordinary, retired, humble people and the unemployed. We are also seeing more young people adopting pets. The young think it's cool to keep a pet but the elderly tend to keep pets for spiritual reasons and treat them like family members. It's a kind of empty-nest syndrome in an ageing society.

Q: Do you have a pet?

A: Yes, I have a one-and-a-half-year-old dog called Lily. She was dumped by her owner during the outbreak of Sars in Beijing.

Q: Do you think Sars had an impact on the pet trade on the mainland?

A: Yes, a lot of pet dogs and cats were dumped by their owners during Sars because there were rumours that pets could transmit the disease. Some pets were even abused. Sars triggered a cooling in the popularity of pet ownership, with fewer people getting new pets last year. But pet hospitals were not affected as much as pet breeders because owners have become more concerned about the health of their animals.

Q: What percentage of pet owners in Beijing would take their pets to hospital?

A: More than 50 per cent I think. The rest usually would try to treat the animal by themselves. Owners are concerned about vet bills and the cost is sometimes too high for the unemployed.

Q: What services do pet hospitals provide?

A: We offer surgery including sterilisation, Caesarean births and bone setting, as well as treatment for hepatitis and fever. Some pet hospitals even provide acupuncture. We also offer vaccines and even offer free pet matchmaking introductions.

Q: What's the biggest difference between a doctor and a veterinarian?

A: A sick person can tell you where he aches but a pet cannot. We must ask their owners about symptoms or carefully observe their animals. But pets also have emotions just like human beings.