wed 22/11/2017

Vet School, ITV | reviews, news & interviews

Vet School, ITV

Vet School, ITV

Exploring the latest frontiers of veterinary medicine with the staff and students of 'Dick Vet'

A level of expertise most of the human world would envy' – specialists at the Royal School of Veterinary Medicine

The clinically white buildings of the Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Medicine, nickname Dick Vet, are just outside Edinburgh, with departments for wildlife, exotic animals, domestic pets and large animals, from horses to cattle. It was founded by William Dick, a human anatomist, in 1823. It is among the top 10 such schools in the world, and came to worldwide fame by cloning Dolly the sheep.

This octet of short programmes looking at the life of the school over the past several years examines just what animal medicine can mean, and at a level of expertise that most of the human world would envy. Along the way we observe obliquely the attachment between human and animal, and the astonishing medical demands that are fulfilled by the skilled teachers and students. The most amazing case in the first instalment was that of Freddy, a much-loved turtle the size of a walnut and only 14 grams in weight, who had inexplicably so injured one eye that it was hanging out. Miniaturisation was the order of the day, with an elaborate operation to totally remove the barely pinsized eye and to place medicinal gel in the empty socket to aid the healing process. Getting the anaesthetic right for such a tiny creature presented a major hurdle, but so far as anyone could judge Freddy was happy with the end result.

At the other end of the scale was an emergency call-out to a farm where a deeply concerned owner was about to lose 700 kilos of prize cow after a difficult birth which had culminated in a still-born calf. Heaving the distressed cow into a position where she could be treated as her body was wracked with uncontrollable contractions was almost impossible, but our doughty experts managed to save her. The smile on the farmer’s face was actually as affecting as the relief apparent on that of the exhausted beast, who would live to bear another calf.

Back at the hospital, Sula, a black gundog, had been run over while flushing out birds. Her hip was shattered in three places, and her pelvis crushed. Cue the most complex procedures to see if she could be restored to working order: x-rays, a three-hour operation involving tiny metal plates and screws, followed by intensive care. The veterinary orthopedic surgeon explained the complex procedures, and we were treated, if that’s the right verb, to the operation itself.

Then there was Izzy the tortoiseshell cat, presenting a host of symptoms including massive fluid retention and red bald patches, perhaps alopecia. After x-rays and an exploratory operation, a hernia was deduced and repaired, all under the gaze of the camera. Relief all round and delight for her owners.

But animals aside, Vet School is giving us no sense of the institution's human relationships, nor of what goes on from day to day. Presumably the cases we're seeing are exceptional ones beyond the scope of most mainstream vets. With the faculty taking the lead, the Dick Vet students seemed to be almost in a kind of hands-on apprenticeship system.

Next week things get more interesting, as we meet a challenging mother wallaby, Fanta, a goat who suffers from phantom pregnancies, and another Freddy, a 14-week-old West Highland terrier with a serious heart murmur. And before we splutter with indignation about all these resources being lavished on pets, as well as what we might consider useful animals, it's worth considering how essential pets can be for many a human’s emotional wellbeing. 

The most amazing case was that of Freddy, a much-loved turtle the size of a walnut and only 14 grams in weight

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Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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Top marks for clinical care of the thousands of piglets however did not show details of how they were slaughtered which is a cover up of all the pre care of these 'intelligent animals' who are aware of fear. Please do not insult viewers intelligence and show the whole story.Also nasal flaring in sheep whilst being castrated is a sure sign of pain and stress they just cannot communicate this.

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