"It will heal, like on a dog" - this popular Russian expression is usually used to describe fast recovery of human patients. However, those who have pets know that animals get sick and suffer as often as people do, and their wounds do not heal as fast as we want to. Pancreatitis, kidney stone diseases, cholecystitis, heart disease and even cancer - Betties and Dicks face the same health problems as their masters. Ukrainian veterinaries make about 1.5 million operations on animals annually.

Veterinary is as ancient science, as medicine. In the old times animals were treated by druids, shamans, witchdoctors. There were special methods to treat animals, registered in tractates of ancient Egypt, Greece, Rome, Kyiv Rus. The official formation of veterinary as a science took place in 18th century. On the Day of Veterinary, traditionally celebrated on second Sunday of August, ForUm visited the Kyiv state clinic for small animals to learn about the work of vets.

Practicing vets admit that in Soviet times the education was of better quality, firs of all thanks to numerous practical classes. After the USSR collapse, many vets left abroad, working first as cheap labour force or vet assistants and then opening their own practice.

Today, there are nine state universities of veterinary in Ukraine, as well as various specialized faculties, institutes and schools of different forms of ownership and accreditation, producing 1600 young specialists annually.

Traumatic surgeon of the Kyiv clinic Iryna Hrytsun admits that for the last decade the profession of veterinary has become more prestigious.

In Soviet times vet graduates used to be appointed to this or that region and could end up somewhere in a village. Now, young specialists can choose where to work. Currently, there are up to three thousand vet clinics, licensed to practice in Ukraine.

Opening the register book, Iryna counts how many animals need help every day. "Yesterday, for example, I had eight new patients, apart from the repeated examinations," she informs.

According to the doctor, both cats and dogs equally have incidents. Dogs usually get hit by cars, while cats mostly fall out of the window.

This cat, for example, fell out of the fifth-floor window. The owner was warned about high probability of lethal outcome, but despite all pessimistic forecasts, the cat is recovering.

The vet clinic looks and smells exactly as an ordinary hospital, but instead of wards animals are kept in cages, where they undergo necessary treatment, including drips.

This fluffy spitz is an inpatient. He misses his masters a lot and barks constantly.

Parrot Jora is a medical assistant, who invites patients in the room and tries to calm them down if they 'cry'.

Being under constant pressure, doctors of the clinic sometimes need to take mind off things. For the sake of joke they hung out his funny cat's body scheme.

But red Kuzma is in no joking mood. He is 18 and has regular health problems due to his age. Thanks to good care, Kuzma has managed to live that long and is relatively in good health.

When a nurse made the injection, Kuzma did not even blink. Probably he understands it is for his own good.

Executive director of the clinic Vladyslav Lysyi tells that the majority of animals behaves just like people - get nervous and complain, but tolerate all the procedures. There are not so many 'violate' patients. Besides, all future specialists learn in universities some special techniques to treat animals safely.

Surgeon Oleksandr Kharitonenko is making bandage to a cat, which underwent an oncotomy operation.

Veterinaries admit the salaries in the state clinic are not high, sometimes even less than salaries of office workers. Only those who truly love animals come to work here.

However, just love is not enough to work in a vet clinic. According to Iryna Hrytsun, some graduates do not survive the work because they cannot get rid of disgust and take the job in cold blood.

In recent years, it has become popular to take pets to animal psychologists. In response to ForUm's question whether the pets need psychological assistance, Iryna smiles and says that every practicing vet is a psychologist, who can feel the mood of animals, while some pet owners do need assistance, because some of them do not understand why they took a pet in the first place.

According to Iryna, sometimes it is difficult to persuade pet owners to make vaccinations against rabies even despite the fact that unvaccinated animals are not allowed for examination and treatment.

However, according to the official statistics, pet owners take the matter seriously, and with every year there are more and more Ukrainians who brings their pets for vaccination. In 2011 there were 41.5 thousand pets, registered as vaccinate against rabies.

Pet owners also half-heartedly agree to sterilization. "Those who stayed in EU countries know that stray dogs are very calm. This is a positive effect of sterilization. The belief that animals get fat after the procedure is a myth. Pets get fat because they are overfed," Iryna says.

Chipping (implantation of a tracing electronic device) is also not very popular in Ukraine. Vets say that in the majority of cases chipping is done by owners of expensive dog breeds or by those who intend to bring their pets abroad.

ForUm witnessed the chipping procedure being done to a British Shorthair cat Irys, which is about to travel to Germany as a present. Without the chip, the cat will not be allowed to pass the border.

This Labrador Bard is going on vacation to Feodosia and needs to pass veterinary examination. He is very excited waiting for his turn.

All data will be registered in his dog's passport.

However, not only home pets come to vets. In some cases, responsible people bring sick stray animals and pay for the treatment. "Once in winter, a young man brought a cat, which he found in a forest inside a bag. The man took pity on the cat, cured him and decided to keep it," Iryna told us.

Unfortunately, many people do not care about their own pets, not speaking about stray animals. Some owners believe that animals can cure themselves, but it is not true. Animals need medical assistance the same as people do. They need treatment, regular examinations and vaccinations. It's better to play safe and bring your pet to a doctor, rather than watch it suffering later.

Alina Yeremeyeva, photos by Viktor Kovalchuk


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