Saffas in Uniform: Claire Demm

Saffas in Uniform: Claire Demmer-Considine | Vet

Claire came to the UK as recently as August 2012 after a previous spell in the Fens. As a vet, she has trained in one animal-loving society and come to practice in another.

Saffas in Uniform: Claire Demm

Claire Demmer photo (1)

Claire came to the UK as recently as August 2012 after a previous spell in the Fens. As a vet, she has trained in one animal-loving society and come to practice in another.

How was getting into the UK?
We didn’t have a UK passport and had to get a visa. It was quite a rigmarole, but we had always planned to move overseas.

Why the UK?
We looked at Canada, Australia and NZ. Canada would have meant four years of exams – basically my whole degree. Australia and NZ are harder to get into now. In NZ, for example, the only openings were for abattoir work, and I’m a vegetarian. The English also love their bureaucracy, but it was easier here.

The British are very attached to their pets, aren’t they? Perhaps even more so than in SA?
People are quite religious about taking their dogs for a walk the right number of times a day. In SA we just let dogs out to do their own thing. The level of veterinary practice seems to be higher in the UK because clients have higher expectations of you. Brits are very inclined to do diagnostics on their pets but when their pets start to experience a declining quality of life, they are quite clear-headed about putting them down rather than letting them suffer.

What is your usual uniform?
I wear blue scrubs. I don’t know if it’s more calming for the patients, but certainly more practical.

Were your qualifications automatically accepted here?
Yes, they were accepted straight away.

How would you compare the British public’s attitude towards your job to that of the SA public?

One thing I’ve noticed is that at least 70% of pets here are insured, versus 1-2% in SA. In some places, you pay upfront and then get paid back. People can now assure a quality of care for their pet that they previously wouldn’t have been able to afford. The insurance will cover diagnosis, but many people take out a policy that lasts just a year.

If you were PM for a day, what would you change to make your job better/safer/easier?
What wastes my time is the extraordinary amount of paperwork. You consult for four hours in the morning and then spend four hours in the afternoon doing paperwork. You have to write everything in duplicate. I would make a law that we have to go paperless!

Paperless…except for pet passports?
Well, a chip is something put in the shoulderblades that has a number in it. You need one of those to have a passport which is actually a book, and it’s only for a year. The pet passports are only for Europe.

Europe, and not the quaratine-happy UK?
Well, the UK no longer has that months-long quarantine system. Now you can travel anywhere in Europe, as long as you have a rabies shot. Pets coming from elsewhere must have an approved blood test and up-to-date shots. Now pets just need a health check.

What is the biggest public misconception about your job?
The public feel that you should be around 24h/day because you love animals. Otherwise they feel that all you want to do is make money from them…some expect you to do everything at absolutely no cost, out of the kindness of your heart.

What has been your most rewarding day at work so far?
A day that sticks in my brain is from SA. A German shepherd came in with a ball lodged in its throat, almost dead. We managed to get it out with seconds to go, put him on oxygen, and sent him home 10 minutes later.

Read more:

Saffas in Uniform: Roger Sainsbury | British Army

R25 million donated to fight rhino poaching in SA

Nyasha’s therapeutic farm works wonders