Rabbits join cats and dogs in focus for pet welfare program

There was a new specialism for vets when ACTAsia visited China in September 2016. Responding to a growing need from pet owners, this phase of our vet training program included a focus on the recently popular pet rabbit.

Back in 2012, the Year of the Rabbit heralded the start of an ironic welfare issue for pet bunnies in China. While the Chinese began buying the latest must-have pet in a furry frenzy of enthusiasm, both vets and the pet-owning public needed to understand more about responsibility for a rabbit. Since 2012, the pet rabbit population in China has exploded, partly in response to demand but also due to  ignorance of their fast-breeding. Many rabbits suffer ill health or die as a result of inappropriate diet, handling and general husbandry, and overpopulation and abandonment are now very common problems.

ACTAsia and Vets for Compassion joined forces with Dr. Narelle Walters of the Melbourne Rabbit Clinic and veterinarians in Beijing and Zhongshan welcomed the specialist theoretical and practical training. This expanded their knowledge on rabbits as a species, including topics such as Diet & Dentition, Husbandry & Handling, Anaesthesia and Surgery. Dr. Walters also gave a presentation at the Veterinary University in Hangzhou for the student vets and following the trip, stated that ‘Volunteering to update Chinese veterinarian’s on the care and treatment of rabbits has been a very rewarding experience.  China is a beautiful country and the enthusiasm of the veterinarians attending the ActAsia conference was inspiring.’

In addition, Vets For Compassion volunteers Dr. Elaine Ong, Dr. Chris Barton and nurses Ann Letch and Carolyn Maguire held a Cats & Dogs veterinary training in Shanghai for 36 participating vets. Topics covered in the Theory were: Pain Management, Anaesthesia, Nursing, ACTAsia/VFC Train the Trainers programme, Flank Spay for Cats (incl. video). During the group demonstrations, participants learnt about animal handling, clinical examination, uterus 3 clamp tying technique, scrubbing, monitoring anaesthetics and more. Two more Chinese vets were certified to join our Trainers’ team of 9 and 25 cats were neutered.

Dr. Chris Barton also gave a presentation at the Zhejiang University of Hangzhou about the importance of a veterinarian’s role in animal welfare and to private practice vets on Clinic Design which can help them, their customers and animals.