|How do you feel about animals being used
Well, the whole principle of using animals in experiments
has been reviewed certainly in this country very, very
strongly. And the principle has been to try to reduce
the number of animals used. Now unfortunately, there seems
to be no other way of achieving always the result that
we require in testing a particular substance. I don't
find myself a little bit uncomfortable with the wish that
there is to test substances other than medicines. When
we start to get testing cosmetics and things that are
somewhat ephemeral in the needs of the human population,
I'm not sure that's a good use of animals.
How do you feel about people having
large dangerous dogs as pets?
All dogs can be dangerous. If you look at where deaths
have occurred in babies and small children, it's surprising,
sometimes it's been very small dogs that have been involved.
It hasn't always been the big dogs. Unfortunately, it's
not really the dog's problem and fault, it's usually
the owner's problem and fault. And so if the owner can't
restrain, keep control, have a proper care of that animal,
then any dog can become more dangerous. And the principle
of leaving children with dogs is one that should not
on any occasion occur, no matter how good anybody believes
a particular dog is. Dogs can be dangerous.
Are there any animals or insects you
are afraid of?
I suppose that 'afraid' is one word, 'being extremely
cautious of', is another. I've been attacked by cows,
not uncommonly unfortunately over the years, picked
up and thrown across the room and so on. Now everybody
thinks cows are rather nice creatures and so on but
when they've got a calf at foot, they are very protective
and they can be extremely dangerous. A sow with its
piglets will be very dangerous and possibly one of the
most dangerous species that we deal with. I've treated
tigers, I've treated chimpanzees, and in their own right
those are extremely dangerous, so I think it's a question
of assessing the animal, the risk, and taking the suitable
precautions, because sometimes it's the small ones that
bite you when you're not thinking about it rather than
the big one that you are watching and thinking was going
to be dangerous.
Do you have any pets yourself?
Yes, over the years we've had various animals. At
the moment we've got a dog, 40 sheep, a couple of
ponies and a snake. And it sits in its, in its vivarium
on the landing at home, and it's my son's snake and
I think he uses it purposely to terrify some of the
young ladies who visit and others, and my daughter's
boyfriend, is not at all keen on it and walks round
the landing to try and avoid it.
Has it ever escaped?
On one occasion it did escape briefly, but was rapidly
recaptured I hasten to add.
Would you recommend becoming a vet?
Yes, I think it's been a good life. I certainly have
enjoyed it. It's meant it's very challenging, very
demanding. You never stop learning and, in fact, you
can't stop learning because medicine - whether it
be veterinary medicine or human medicine - the changes
are immense over the years. So you're constantly having
to be kept up to date by reading, attending lectures,
talking to colleagues, and also by your clients. Because
these days with the Internet, they very often will
come in with a whole sheaf of papers and say, 'We
think our dog has got so and so. Here you are Mr Vet,
look at all this information.' And you then sort of
go, 'Thank you very much,' and put it gently to one
side and have a look at the animal and decide that
this extraordinary disease that they've just found
on the Internet doesn't have any relation to what's
in front of you. But that's one of the challenges