What is a Vet?

A basic consultation, although not expensive, would also exclude any medication that may be prescribed. In fact, in comparison with doctors, the income of French vets compares very unfavorably, despite the more rigorous training they have to undertake. An after-hours ER visit is about the same price as a specialist’s consult (about double the cost of a regular vet consult but this can vary). Then any tests and services have the after-hours rate as well. (but probably a small price to pay if you want to ensure your animal’s safety). You tend to find vet specialists in and around larger cities although some vet practices have specialists on staff. If your pet has an emergency or any type of issue after hours, most areas have emergency vet services. As you get closer to Nantes, there are some so you can always go there no matter the time of day/night and get help.  There are more than ten thousand vets in France, either within a clinic or on their own, that specialize in domestic animals. In general, French vets seem to be:

Very affordable in terms of meds and services. Considering other countries like the U.S., where veterinary care is a big business and costs seem majorly inflated. That’s not to say it’s not a major money maker in France, but French vet costs seem to be more reasonable.

Able to take their time with each client. Vets in France don’t seem rushed like you’re just a number.

Great at research and follow up. If you live in France and your vet says he/she is going to call on a certain day, definitely expect the call on that day. If they tell you they are researching a product for you and will email you next week, they do.

Organized. Each pet gets a carnet de santé (is a document that retraces medical information) and a pet passport, which acts as a handy little booklet with the pet’s history that the owner keeps. That way, if you’re traveling and have to see another vet, they can see exactly what vaccines your dog has, illnesses, etc. If you’re considering having a pet in France, do not let any stress or anxiety about French vet care stop you. Now, if we speak about veterinarians in Africa, it’s kind of a different story. Animal welfare in this country is mostly about wildlife animals. Wildlife veterinarians are medical practitioners who specialize in treating many different types of wildlife including birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. They may work either in a veterinary office setting or in the field. The typical duties of a wildlife vet may include sedating animals for procedures, performing exams, giving vaccinations, taking blood samples, administering fluids, performing surgeries when needed, prescribing medications, evaluating and treating wounds, taking x-rays and ultrasounds, cleaning teeth, assisting with captive breeding programs and providing “intensive care” for very young animals abandoned by their parents. Wildlife veterinarians ( Geoallo veterinaire 24h/24 ) often work in conjunction with at a rehabilitation facility. They also must be able to interact and communicate effectively with veterinary technicians, wildlife officials, and members of the public. It is not unusual for to work some nights, weekends, and holidays. Some wildlife veterinarians have schedules that involve “on call” time for treating emergency cases, and it is not uncommon for vets to put in 50 hours of work (or more) per week. Some wildlife veterinarians conduct research or treat patients in the field, so travel may be involved for some practitioners.

For an African vet most of the time there are no set hours because much of the wildlife work is in response to call outs but they need to be ready to work long hours and to work very hard. The wildlife vet is involved with animal relocations, treating sick or injured animals, diagnosing diseases, treating and diagnosing various conditions. Due to the high physical demands of their work it is probably good that they have a good level of fitness.   In South Africa, wildlife vets and nurses don’t just treat injured and sick animals. They also play a key role in the conservation and management of the region’s wildlife populations. Much of South Africa’s wildlife is privately owned by large game reserves and breeding centers. This includes rare species of great ecological and financial value. Whether the estate owners are conservationists or business minded, they all want to make sure animals enjoy a high standard of welfare and breed healthily. Game reserve staff rarely carry veterinary qualifications, which means they rely heavily on vets to carry out important wildlife management tasks, including the capture and relocation of animals.  Wildlife vets in South Africa also monitor and prevent infectious diseases that can be passed from wildlife to domestic animals and, in extreme cases, even humans. In a country where fatal diseases such as rabies and tuberculosis are still prevalent, it’s vitally important that wildlife vets respond quickly to outbreaks and report any new instances to the state. Wildlife vets also face the challenge that while their work is vital in managing animal populations and preventing the spread of infectious diseases, is not funded by the government. Due to the high prices of drugs and other medical equipment, wildlife reserve owners can also be reluctant to fund veterinary work. In fact, access to sufficient quantities of the drugs used in the darting and immobilization of animals is a constant challenge for veterinarians.

But even so, South Africa is pretty unique in the region in that it has enough money and trained professionals to maintain a really top-notch national park system, including highly developed veterinary and research programs.  The goal of a veterinary team is not to try to save every animal from dying a natural death. They typically only intervene in a case of extreme suffering or when further diagnostics and investigation might contribute to our understanding of disease processes and toxicology in these animals. There is also the work South African veterinarians have in the conservation of animals that are targeted by poachers. Rhino conservation is no longer simply a cause, but instead a war. At places such as Kruger National Park in South Africa, lives are being lost in the fight against the illegal wildlife trade. People from all over the country are joining anti-poaching units at Kruger with hopes of protecting the wildlife from . Big Five’ is one of the most commonly used marketing slogans in the safari industry. Game reserves that host the Big Five will usually use this fact as their biggest selling point, but what does it mean? In the game reserves and national parks of , the Big Five represents safari royalty; the African lion, the African leopard, the African elephant, the Cape buffalo, and the rhino (either white or black). The phrase was originally coined by early game hunters who recognized that these species were the hardest and most dangerous animals to hunt on foot. This made them the biggest prizes, hence, the Big Five. Today, the phrase has come to represent the most sought-after safari sightings—although, in reality, this is a matter of personal preference. Some of the most endangered, beautiful or charismatic African animals don’t feature on the Big Five list including the , the African wild dog, the giraffe, and the hippo. While once popular amongst big game hunters, Africa’s Big Five have become major targets for wildlife conservationists in recent years. The African lion, African leopard and African bush elephant are all classified as vulnerable. The southern white rhinoceros is classified as near threatened while the black rhinoceros is classified as critically endangered, so hunting them is greatly restricted for the latter.

In the fight against poachers there are even movements of radical veterinarians who want to dehorn rhinos before poachers can. It may seem like a jarring scene: a rhinoceros sedated as veterinary staff saw off its horn, but this is now becoming increasingly common across South Africa as farmers and others desperately try to save the animals from extinction. And it goes something like this: Vet and game warden get into a helicopter, spot a rhino, and shoot it with a dart filled with a powerful opioid, it gets dazed, wobbles along for a few minutes and collapses.  Then it’s a race against the clock. The downed rhino is roped to a tree, and its respiratory rate is carefully monitored while a medical team takes hair and blood samples. Finally, somebody swoops in with a chainsaw and hacks off the rhino’s horn roughly 8 centimeters above the base (a safe distance that avoids cutting into the rhino’s sinuses). Reviving a rhino post-op is the riskiest part of the whole business. Following a healthy dose of naltrexone (chemically similar to the drug used to treat heroin overdoses) the two-ton beast goes from comatose to wide-awake and panicky. Dehorning may be a deterrent, but the process is dangerous, laborious and contingent on the support of wardens. Meanwhile, the poaching crisis shows no signs of slowing down. Africa’s rhinos are in at a tipping point. Record numbers are being brutally attacked and killed for their horns even though there’s no evidence that it contains any medical properties. In the 1970s there were about 70,000 black rhinos in Africa, between 1970 and 1990 numbers plummeted to fewer than 2,500 and today, there are around 4,200 black rhinos left in the wild. At these rates, the numbers of black rhino poached exceed the numbers being born. The species could go extinct by 2024.

National parks in South Africa are under siege, plagued by poachers, and Kruger National Park is ground zero. The frequently more than $300,000 reason: the rhinoceros horn, the gold and diamonds of the modern world. On the other side of the coin, even though the majority of veterinary work in Africa is related to wildlife, that does not mean there is nothing related to house animals. In South Africa domestic pets and food-production animals suffer primarily because of ignorance, uncontrolled breeding and preventable infectious diseases. There are an estimated 6 million dogs alone in South Africa, of which 85% have no access to veterinary services. Unfortunately, there are very few state run veterinary hospitals or clinics in South Africa.  The South African Veterinary Association (SAVA) supports responsible pet ownership and understands the importance of the human animal bond. The SAVA therefore established Community Veterinary Clinics (CVC) to assist disadvantaged pet owners with basic animal health care. The South African Veterinary Association Community Veterinary Clinics (SAVA-CVC) is an initiative where private veterinarians donate their time and skills to render primary veterinary services in disadvantaged communities. With all that being said, I hope you get an idea of what is the kind of life for this professionals in these two countries and understand than even if you share the same title as someone else, your work an experiences may differ depending on where you live.