Ilir and Dritan have arrived on time, I am – as usual – a couple of minutes late….Some things never change……
I am meeting my Albanian colleagues in front of a cafe in the center of Tirana, following some communication by e-mail over the last few weeks.
My new aquaintances have very kindly agreed to show me a couple of upmarket clinics in the capital, to give me an idea of the best of care that is and that can be provided to pets here at the moment.
One has to remember that Albania is not a rich country and the ownership of dogs and cats was considered a bourgeois fancy, that was frowned upon by the communist Hoxha regime. Only in the last two decades this has slowly changed.
Albania has a single vet school, no organised companion animal veterinary association and there is still very little interaction with colleagues and education providers from outside of the country.
The two clinics we visit are not far from the city center and they have well organised and uncluttered consulting rooms and waiting rooms
with a good supply of pet food and accessoires for their urban clientele. In both places there is a dedicated grooming room – something I would have loved to have provided to my clients in Virginia Water….
The teams in these clinics, consisting mainly of vets without any qualified veterinary nurses, love to have a foreign visitor and they are more than happy showing me around.
I am told that the usual consulting fee here is about 8 Euros, but that even that is frequently considered as too expensive by some pet owners. Both places feature operating theatres with Isoflurane as the main gaseous anaesthetic agent.
Despite vaccines readily available, a lot of pet owners consider this an unnecessary expense, resulting still in very frequent cases of parvovirus and distemper infections.
Corporate structures, pet insurance provision or health plans which are now so common in the North of Europe, are still unthinkable here. But with an eager, outward looking young profession, which – as in many other sectors of society – is catching up fast with the rest of the continent, a steadily improving provision of care is just a matter of time.
Outside of one of the clinics we are coming across one of Albania’s street dogs. A very prominent tag in its left ear – something I consider more with live stock than with dogs – gives an indication that the local authorities are providing some basic care for these dogs. However, it doesn’t distract from the fact that Albania – like may other countries on the Balkan – still faces a huge stray dog issue.
Addressing in an ethically acceptable and efficient way this problem might some consider the more pressing issue at the moment . I think (and I hope) that with increasing wealth – as many other countries have demonstrated – both first class veterinary and animal welfare issues of homeless pets can be addressed at the same time.
Wow! What dedication from this lovely team in Albania! Thank you! A great job under challenging and difficult circumstances. Wolfgang, they need you there. The population as well as the animals and the lovely team. We are spoilt in the UK . But you are still being missed so much! Love from Poppy 🐈⬛ Danny 🐈 and me xxx
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