Dangerous Work 2011

One of the best things about being a vet is the variety of work. All sorts of creatures from large farm animals to tiny childrens’ pets and birds. We need to provide a range of treatments combining the skills of a GP with those of a hospital surgeon in a way that Doctors can’t. So, even after 26 years in the job I still get called upon to perform tasks that I’ve never done before. These jobs can be mentally and physically challenging, often difficult and sometimes a little dangerous. I was called upon to do one such job last week. A client phoned to say he was travelling to Australia but that when the authorities there heard what he was taking along they had become very concerned. There was the possibility of death and disease from Sydney to Perth and he needed my help. What on earth was it he was taking along? Cheese was the reply!

The client (who I had only met previously with his cats) is an expert on cheese manufacture and was to be the keynote speaker at a conference on cheese in Melbourne. He wished to take some samples with him but the Australian customs needed to see a veterinary certificate saying they were prepared in a manner that minimized disease risk. Now I wasn’t sure that I was sufficiently qualified to certify cheese so I phoned the local animal health office who assured me I was assigned to panel 1 e) and therefore able to carry out the task.  The day before his flight the client brought the cheese to the surgery securely enclosed in a plastic cool bag. I opened the lid with some trepidation to find a dozen pieces of cheese of various sorts wrapped as they would be for sale in a supermarket. They appeared docile and I was able to handle them without the need for a muzzle. After a small hitch in finding out the registration numbers of the premises where the milk had been pasteurized I was able to complete, sign and stamp the certificate, in triplicate, and send the cheeses on there way without a single bite or scratch. Some samples were left with us for post-mortem, testing and disposal in a way that complied with clinical waste regulations. (They tasted very nice.)            All in all the most difficult job I’ve had to do since I had to sterilize some wild and aggressive fishing rods prior to the owner’s holiday in Iceland

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