HK Magazine: How ignorant are pet owners? Justin Choo: Very. I once met a woman who asked me to examine the lumps on her dog’s belly. I had a look and found nothing, so I told the owner that the dog was fine. Then she pointed at the dog’s belly. It turned out she was talking about the dog’s nipples, and I had to explain that, the fact is, male dogs have nipples as well. Then there was the woman who believed she was keeping a Vietnamese pot-bellied pig, so she only fed it an apple a day. It was actually an ordinary farm pig and it nearly starved to death. HK: What’s the most delicate operation you’ve ever done? JC: Amputation of a hamster’s leg. I’ve done about 30 so far. It’s a very delicate procedure because their legs are like toothpicks, but you have to shave the fur, cut the skin, locate all the veins, arteries and nerves, and then close them all when you’re done. You finish it with a stitch under the skin so they can’t chew on it. You definitely don’t want them to have phantom limb – if the nerve isn’t sealed properly, they’ll still feel their leg after it’s gone. HK: Why would a hamster need an amputation? JC: It’s actually quite a common procedure because they climb a lot, and sometimes their legs get trapped between gaps in the cage. The owners usually find out the next day when they see the hamster hanging from the cage. It’s lucky if the owners find out this way because the hamster is such a happy animal, it would continue to eat and sleep as normal even with a broken leg. In fact, many pet owners tell me their little rodents run the wheel right after they recover from the anesthesia. HK: Can cold-blooded animals feel love at all? JC: No, definitely not. It’s a scientific fact that they don’t have any emotion sensory center in their brains. If somebody tells you their reptile pets love them, it’s total fantasy – a woman once believed that her turtle loved her and wanted to stay with her all the time, so she slept with it and left it on the carpet to walk with her… It’s supposed to stay in water and ended up with limb infections. HK: Do you find your job disturbing sometimes? JC: Definitely. It’s not just the clearing maggots one by one from an infected dog’s lump, but also dealing with pet owners. Can you imagine someone who only takes his dog in for consultation after it can’t walk for two years? Many of them are very loving and caring, but some can be so ignorant and irresponsible. Yet you still have to sort things out in a professional way. Like if a dog is overweight and its owner is obese, what are you going to tell him? Island Veterinary Services is in Discovery Bay, 2987 9003.