In China, veterinary professionals can play a critical role in the effort to develop a more compassionate society. Vets have the authority to work with government agencies to humanely manage stray animal populations. They are also a key source of information for owners of companion animals, playing an important role in helping Chinese society understand that all animals are sentient beings that deserve our respect.
Why educate vets?
Vets have a background in animal welfare, and are more likely to understand animal sentience than the general public. Vets trained in modern and humane surgical procedures are more likely to show compassion to stray animals and can deal more effectively with the problems surrounding strays. They’re also in an ideal position to educate the public in the proper care of companion animals, including the use of rabies shots and spay and neuter techniques.
Pets, not pests
Most Chinese vets are trained to care for livestock. The care of companion animals is a more recent area of expertise. Dogs and cats have traditionally been seen as pests, rather than pets, and are commonly regarded with suspicion and fear, especially by children and their parents. Packs of feral dogs and cats are found throughout China, and are handled by the government as a health nuisance needing strict control. Large scale, brutal culling programs are regularly enacted in cities facing rabies threats.
Why do Chinese vets need additional training?
In China, vets do not have particularly high status. They have husbandry qualifications rather than university degrees. Many are untrained in best practises when it comes to companion animals, and are not fully informed about the sentience of animals and the importance of relieving pain. Surgery standards are so low that anesthesia is not often used, and severe infections after operations are common. The need for further education is all too apparent.
Our goals in professional education