Vet: Not enough awareness on need to control stray animals
Vet shares life, work experience in Kuwait
Inside one of the small, well-equipped rooms of the International Veterinary Hospital (IVH), you will find a vet who talks to dogs and cats as if he is talking to human beings. He listens to their growls, barks and meows with full attention in order to understand why they are upset and what is causing them discomfort. Sometimes, his patients get aggressive, but he loves what he is doing.
Meet Dr Nelson Gomez, who travels every morning to the middle of the desert in Wafra, where he works at the IVH to save dogs and cats along with an integrated team of specialists. He shared with Kuwait Times his life and work experiences as a vet in Kuwait.
Gomez hails from Venezuela, and moved to Kuwait in 2014 as a veterinary doctor specialized in small animal surgeries. “It is a growing hospital and I had a good opportunity to become a part of its team. The job requires no less than five years of experience and recognition from a prestigious university or a master’s degree,” he said.
“Indeed, it is a complete career for me. I have always wanted be in the medical field. But what seemed to push me was that humans talk too much, and I want do something that does not put me in contact with humans. But at the end, we have to work with humans,” Gomez explained.
During his veterinary work in Europe for six to seven years, he noticed that there were no stray cats and street dogs there because governments are taking control. There is also a database of microchip information about all cats and dogs. In addition, microchipping and vaccination is compulsory for pet owners, and whoever breaks the law gets fined.
On the contrary, there is not enough awareness on the importance of controlling the numbers of stray animals in Kuwait. “Many people here believe neutering is against Islamic teachings. There are a lot of street cats that people want to help, but they do not understand that the best help they can give to a street cat is to spay or neuter it, because one female cat can give birth to four to six kittens. So, if you do not fix this problem, you are going to always face it,” Dr Gomez said.
In Kuwait, cat lovers outnumber dog lovers, though the numbers of the latter are on the rise. Interest in pets is growing due to the impact of social media, with its videos of cute cats and intelligent dogs, and Instagram accounts of famous pets. “The problem here is that many individuals are financially enabled and have access to get whatever they want. Thus, they can get the most expensive dog breed. However, they are not used to having a dog and they don’t want to take care of its needs. They don’t want it to lick or bark, and are not willing to teach it. Therefore, they depend on housekeepers to take care of the dog or cat,” Dr Gomez said.
“This is a big problem because the pet only socializes with the maid or the driver. When they bring the pet to us, we cannot get enough information in order to diagnose. We have no option but to guess what happened, and most of the time, they do not know or they do not want us or the owner to know what happened,” he added.
“On the contrary, I am happy that there are a lot of people in Kuwait who are keen to learn about their pets and become proper animal lovers. They are on the right path. At the same time, they must learn the difference between bringing up a puppy and an animal rescued or obtained from a friend. They should always think about themselves and their pets to be as healthy as possible, so as not to transfer viruses or diseases to them or their family members,” Dr Gomez noted.
“Pets need a lot of attention. People should be aware of the fact that even pets have feelings of jealousy. When a new child arrives, people neglect their pets and this makes them jealous. They need to be treated as members of the family and need to be loved,” he stressed.
“My colleagues and I start working at 10:30 in the morning until 8:30 pm non-stop. As I am a surgeon, if there’s an emergency, I stay until I fix it. I love surgery. Pleasure for me is seeing patients recover and their families happy. Outside work, I train at the gym every day in the morning before going to work. Also, I dine out with my workmates every Friday or Saturday to check out a new restaurant and discover a new taste. In fact, my favorite food now is Arabic food!” he remarked.
Dr Nelson examines a cat.