In the year 2000 the World Veterinary Association instigated World Veterinary Day on the last Saturday in April every year.
On this day vets all over the world are acknowledged and appreciated for the changes they bring to our daily lives. The father of veterinary science in South Africa, Dr Arnold Theiler established the first and to date only veterinary school in South Africa, Onderstepoort in 1920. His tremendous energy, pioneering spirit and professional integrity brought him international recognition.
Some of his outstanding life time achievements include:
- the development of a small pox vaccine and
- a vaccine to prevent Rinderpest. (A devastating fatal viral disease of cattle & buffalo, (and some other even toed ungulates such as large antelopes, deer, giraffes, wildebeest and warthogs) which killed up to 80% of cattle in southern Africa in the 1890’s.)
Onderstepoort veterinary school is world renowned and international students compete for a placement at this state of the art facility. International students often comment on how much more exposure to the practical side of vet science they receive here compared to their own schools. Each year approximately 100 students are accepted in to the faculty. It is a challenging 6 year full time course.
After qualifying as a veterinarian there are different career options. Vets play a role in many spectra of life.
- Most contact we have with vets is taking our furry friends for their annual vaccination or for treatment when they are sick.
- Vets are also involved in import and export and safeguarding our country against introduction of diseases novel to South Africa.
- Some veterinarians specialise in veterinary public health and ensure food safety.
- At competitive sport events and shows vets will be there to monitor safety of all the animal competitors and ensure they only take part if they are healthy.
- A career in the academic field lures some vets back to Onderstepoort to ensure well qualified students leave the halls of the veterinary school every year.
- Vets can also specialise in different fields of medicine and surgery. This requires an additional 4 years of study.
- Veterinarians are also involved in research to help develop the best treatments and preventative medicine.
What is it like to be a vet?
To be a vet is not a standard 9-5 job. It is a calling and often they take their concerns regarding patients home with them. Most vets I know have spent a night on a camping bed next to a very sick patient’s cage and sometimes even took them home with them to keep an eye on them overnight. It is a career with little glamour but with immense reward. A profession which keep you humble and often on your knees whether it is praying or crawling after a patient on the floor.
Days are long and stressful but filled with heart warming moments and often tears when a favourite patient gives up the last fight. Let us celebrate all those men and women out there preventing disease, combating illness and if all else fail bring a end to the suffering.
Article by: Dr Adel Ferreira
And just for a good laugh ...
Have you hugged your vet today?
We can all agree that our vets are amazing people that we love dearly. They are there to take care of our furry children and help us to help them in times of need.
On this special day, why not raise a paw, hoof or claw to say thank you to our veterinarians today?