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Peter Jinman is a vet who lives and work in Herefordshire, in the west of England.

What made you decide to become a vet?
I was always interested in animals and originally when I was at school, I was hoping to become a zoologist. I wanted to study animals and their behaviour. And because my father was working at a university at the time, I said to him, 'Do you know anybody there that I can go and talk to in the zoology department?' and he arranged for me to meet the Professor of Zoology, and I went to the university and he said to me, 'Do you want to teach?' and I said, 'No, I don't think l do.' He said, 'Well, 80% of the people who do the zoology course teach. Have you ever thought of being a vet?' And I thought that's a rather good idea.

Do you prefer treating farm animals or pets?
Personally I'm, I do probably a little bit more with the farm work but I don't mind, I like treating them all. I like being involved with them all. And I'm in general practice, so I don't have a specialization in one particular species or one particular discipline within that.

So why do you tend to prefer farm animals?
I quite like meeting the people on the farm, I'm living in the countryside, where we are today, in this surgery, we're right in a little village in the countryside on the border of England and Wales and if you look around and look out there, you'd understand why it's nice to be able to go round and drive round a bit of that country and see the animals there.

What's the most difficult animal to treat?
It's surprising what people turn up with in the surgery. So some time, most of the animals that we would see belong to a certain group, say dogs, cats, maybe rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, ferrets. But now we're starting to see cameloids. That is llamas - certainly we've got llamas locally - and other members of that same group. Those suddenly present a challenge because you're looking at an animal that you haven't really dealt with and is different because every species is different.

 

Even within a species, we sometimes have variations between breeds. So the most difficult is really just one that you're not used to and you suddenly find yourself thinking, 'What are the peculiarities, what's the anatomy, what's the anatomical variation, how will particular medicines react, what is the dosage?' And you sincerely hope that either you've got a book or there's something somewhere or somebody you can ring up and find out. But I can assure you that when somebody brought a tarantula spider in one day, I did have a moment there where I thought to myself, 'Now what are we going to do with that?' It's the dreaded cardboard box. Somebody comes in with a little cardboard box and they put it down very proudly on the table and you're waiting in expectation and then they open it up and you look at it and go, 'Ah, very interesting. Now what is that?'

What do you think is the most intelligent animal of all the ones you treat?
I suppose when we're dealing with intelligence it's a question that you can have intelligent animals within a particular species. So I've met some extremely intelligent dogs, particularly collies, working collies. "They are amazing, how they get the sheep in, how they sort them out or work with the cattle. Marvellous! People always say pigs are very intelligent and I had a professor at college who always maintained that why do we keep dogs and cats; we should keep pigs as pets. He reckoned they were very clean and they were wonderful animals to have as a pet - highly intelligent.

What's the best and worst thing about your job?
I think the best is always birth. It doesn't matter what species, birth is brilliant, amazing every time it happens, one marvels at it, whatever the species. I suppose the worst is always having to put an animal down, put it to sleep.

 
 
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