Despite the light and comfort of the office in the college premises where he receives us, Miguel Ángel Perea (Villaviciosa, Córdoba, 1971) notes throughout the conversation that his natural environment is the countryside, where he raises and maintains the family’s cattle ranch. However, in addition to serving as an Associate Professor in the Department of Animal Health at UCO Veterinary School, the office is now part of the ecosystem in which Mr. Perea also moved when he was Vice President and Treasurer at the College of Veterinarians of Córdoba, an institution with more than eight hundred members. Of these “nearly seven hundred and thirty” are active and about two hundred and eighty clinical veterinarians are employed. “Animal doctors” tend to have a better profile in society, but those responsible for research – at the university level – or animal health in the administrative field also exist. And they play a very important role highlighted by this new president, who arrived after the resignation of the previous president, Antonio Arenas, who is now in charge of the vice-rectorate.
– Did you born in Villaviciosa fact indicate that the veterinarian?
– Well, because I was born into a family with animals. I grew up surrounded by them. It is a profession given by invitation. I grew up among animals and my profession has always been very clear to me. And veterinary medicine was the profession I wanted to do and I got it. In addition, I continue to run a cattle ranch with my brother, since my parents are already retired. We are here with a mission that has been instilled in us since we were kids.
Has the pandemic helped, in any way, increase recognition of the veterinary profession?
– It is a profession that was already known, what happens is that the work of a veterinarian has always been fundamental in controlling epidemics. The pandemic has been so useful that the knowledge we apply in the veterinary sector can be applied to a condition that has affected millions of people. This has multiplied in favor of the general health of the human being.
– How many epidemics have vets freed us from before they happen?
– Veterinarians apply their knowledge, for example, in connection with the Ebola crisis. There have been many epidemics caused by animal transmission, zoonotic diseases, which in the end, fortunately, do not end up affecting people.
– From veterinarians, first of all, the clinical part is known, but you do much more than that.
– The clinical part is an additional link in the whole profession, but there is another very important task, such as the daily control of food quality, which is perhaps the most famous, such as the animal production part. This profession contains a wide range of possibilities and topics. It is true that the “animal doctor” is best known, but let’s not forget that the quality of food is always supervised by a veterinarian.
There is a lot of talk about public health but not about veterinary public health.
– There is a concept of “one health”, that is, one health. Animal, human and environmental health. Today’s vision is that everything is interconnected and there is no talk of veterinary public health.
— but vets seem to have been taken out of the One Health equation.
They tend to take us out of that equation (laughs), but we’re clearly a very important pillar. Here in Córdoba there are more than a hundred veterinarians of the Andalusian Health Service whose job it is to control the entire food chain. Then there are the veterinarians who work in the field every day — and here I include myself — for the welfare and health of the animals, which ultimately leads to good overall health. Campaigns that we have implemented from the College are strictly focused on making it known that the veterinary profession has a broader range of activities than animal welfare.
The veterinary profession has a wide range of activities from animal care.
Is the animal welfare law necessary?
– It is a necessary law. According to the latest data, more than 50% of Spanish families have a pet at home. Obviously, that relationship between people and animals must be regulated. What can not be done is to legislate the thought of animal welfare from an ideological point of view. Many factors were left unconsidered by this law.
– Your colleagues said that it was a law “and turned it back to science and the rural world.”
– Yes exactly. Veterinarians with scientific and technical knowledge are not relied upon. We did not undertake to prepare this bill. It is more of an ideological law than designed to control abuse or regulate the welfare of animals. The government did not see fit to convene the Collective, of which we are experts in animal welfare, health and behaviour.
– In this sense, the law seems to be full of strange atrocities or nonsense.
– yes. For example, to control abandonment, castration is meant to be the only action. The collective organization favors abandoned animal identification and, above all, social awareness of the need to preserve the animal’s welfare.
Do you support taking a dog training course? The new law thinks about it.
– Yes, it will be necessary. But another inconsistency in this law is that it speaks of the training of all owners of animals, but does not specify the person who will give this training or the knowledge or training they should have. It is another void he poses in his writings.
– He says that veterinarians are not relied upon, but there seem to be no people who live and work in rural areas, who also know more about animals than city dwellers who certainly legitimize.
– But because, as I said, this is more an ideological project than an approach and organization of people with animals. And there must be a place for all people who live with animals: hunters, those who own them to work in the field… An animal on a farm is different from an animal in a home. These groups are not taken into account and are serious, especially with people from rural areas, because they make an animal welfare sign, among other things, because it is their source of income. When we talk about animals, we are not only talking about companion animals but also about producing animals.
– Now there is a lot of talk about the “incantation” and according to what you tell us, it seems that the spirit inspired this law.
– Yes, it focuses on what it means to have a pet, hence the term “mantra”, and animals are not considered to be used for work.
– The College of Veterinary Medicine is 175 years old and has been and still is a group of great professionals working not only here but also outside Spain. What is the relationship between a school and a college?
The school relationship cannot be other than the direct and continuous work relationship with the college. In fact, the board of directors for this county always includes someone who represents the college within its board.
– You have just opened the presidency and we know that your predecessor did a good job. What challenges await the school in this new phase?
– Antonio Arenas decided to leave his post because of his new job in the rectory of the University of Cordoba. Here we continue the legacy left by Antonio in this province and the challenges must be to continue betting on continuous training, to which we allocate a large part of our budget. We want our members to become more and better professionals.
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