–Dr Shane Ryan
Q: Tell us about WSAVA’s Vision Statement
Dr Ryan: WSAVA’s Vision Statement is: ‘To advance the health and welfare of companion animals worldwide through an educated, committed and collaborative global community of veterinary peers.’ As ‘Global Veterinary Community’ is our tagline, being a part of WSAVA also creates a space in which we can help each other and generate ‘One global voice’ from the veterinary profession to contribute to the world.
Q: Your endeavour as WSAVA President
Dr Ryan: “I will build on Dr Walt Ingwersen’s efforts to strengthen the sense of community across the association and I’ll be engaging with our members and working with our leadership team to ensure that our Executive Board and clinical committees are even more accessible, professionally and socially. There is much still do to as we work together to raise standards of veterinary care globally and to advocate on key issues on behalf of our members. We are a strong global community and I want us to continue to deliver great work and to enjoy the benefits of true global collaboration and friendship.
Q WSAVA’s main area of focus
Dr Ryan: “Our members are veterinary associations. We also work hard to reach individual veterinarians, particularly those in practice. Many of them need the resources we offer but it can be challenging to make these resources accessible – often due to the many different languages and cultures of our members. We are aware and respectful of the diversity among veterinarians. This diversity is what is unique about WSAVA and our global veterinary community. The focus is on practitioners. In many countries they need the resources which we can offer and this can be difficult in different countries as it involves technological advancements, different languages & cultures. We have to be very respectful and be aware of differences between veterinarians not just because of educational standards but also take into consideration the different backgrounds. We have to really balance that, something which we work very hard to do is to be culturally respectful.
Q: What are the major changes in the last 10 years?
Dr Ryan: The changes have been enormous in Asia. Singapore has always been a little different. I was the tenth practitioner in Singapore, now we have over two hundred veterinarians. Countries like Vietnam, the Philippines and Thailand have moved from being less developed to being very advanced in companion animal practice in one generation. There has also been a big change in pet ownership.
Pets are now not just back yard dogs but members of the family. For us as veterinarians it is a really encouraging change. Now people look after the health and welfare of their animals much better than they used to in the past. From India, what I notice is the thirst for knowledge. Now, through different global platforms, veterinarians want to keep themselves updated. This thirst for knowledge drives them to improve their own professional competency.
Q: What do you see in the next 10 years?
Dr Ryan: For the next ten years we will continue to focus on continuing education (CE). The rise of digital platforms will significantly change how we deliver our CE and means that we can reach many more veterinarians in Asia and around the world. It’s very exciting and, based on the progress we’ve seen in the past decade, we will see even more improvement, more accessibility, in the future.
During the next ten years, I expect an increase in the middle classes in countries such as India and China and, as a result, an increase in the number of pets.
Q: Your view on importance of nutrition
Dr Ryan: Nutrition is one area which encompasses all areas of veterinary medicine. It has different issues—over feeding, underfeeding, incorrect feeding, not recognising the species differences between dogs and cats, etc. When it comes to human animal bond, people like to feed treats. The big food companies have knowledge and make these diets appropriately with research
and development. Veterinarians can advise pet parents on the most appropriate diet though this can be a challenge if the right food is not available in their part of the world
Q: What about animal welfare?
Dr Ryan: As veterinarians, our responsibility extends far beyond the physical health of our patients. Animal welfare as a science is a new and rapidly developing discipline and veterinarians need current, evidence-based information to enable them to maintain the highest welfare standards and to provide knowledgeable, accurate advice for pet parents and communities. Our new Guidelines provide recommendations, checklists and other tools to promote optimal levels of welfare throughout the veterinary visit. They also offer guidance on increasing welfare beyond the doors of the clinic through outreach activities.
As levels of pet ownership increase in many regions of the world, including Asia, it is essential that veterinarians champion animal welfare and the WSAVA hopes that these new Guidelines will encourage our members to adopt best practice and set the highest standards.
(Dr Shane Ryan qualified from the University of Queensland and worked and travelled across Australia, the UK and Europe, before moving to Singapore in 1984. In 1989, he opened his own practice in Singapore, Companion Animal Surgery, which is now a 24-hour veterinary facility with ten veterinarians and 15 auxiliary staff.)