After arriving in Abu Dhabi in 2006, Dr Katrin Jahn instantly fell in love with the city and, two years later, opened her own veterinary clinic. Abu Dhabi World’s Ferdinand Godinez chats with the vet to find out more about her work, her enduring love of animals and what it takes to make it…
Have you always been fond of animals?
Oh yes! I grew up with dogs as family pets and was fortunate enough to have ponies when I was a child. Horse riding is still a huge passion of mine today.
I was always at the stables as a young girl, surrounded by horses, dogs and the stable cats.
What made you realise being a vet was your calling? How old were you?
It was at quite a young age, around 12 to 13. I was always so fascinated by the vet that came to the stables to take care of the horses and I knew then that this was the career I wanted to pursue.
I attended the Veterinary School at the Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich, Germany, and graduated in 1999.
I came to Abu Dhabi in 2006 for a job at one of the other local veterinary clinics.
So, what then made you decide to open German Veterinary Clinic?
My love for Abu Dhabi was a large part of me wanting to establish something more permanent for myself.
Also, I could see the growing demand for really high quality veterinary care in the capital and, as a massive cat lover, I wanted to establish a clinic better suited to the veterinary care of cats, although we are, of course, lovers of dogs and other species too and give these the same quality of care as cats.
What are the services offered by the clinic?
We offer all routine and preventative veterinary services, as well as taking care of sick and injured pets. We offer internal medicine as well as surgery and we have amazing hospital facilities and state-of-the-art diagnostic tools, including digital x-ray, ultrasound and a comprehensive in-house laboratory.
We also offer pet grooming, cat boarding and have a very experienced international pet relocation team.
Another specialty of ours is Veterinary Behaviour Medicine for all those pets with mental and emotional challenges.
VBM approaches mental and emotional health issues in our pets such as fear, anxiety, aggression, as well as unwanted behaviour with a medical and scientific approach.
Training is a large part of the treatment as well as making environmental changes and using certain types of medications and supplements to support the process. This is a pioneering field of veterinary medicine and hopes to reduce the amount of abandoned pets by improving unwanted behaviours. There is an initial consultation with myself followed by a treatment plan. We provide this service for both dogs and cats and offer support to pets traveling overseas as this can be a very stressful situation for them.
We are also the first clinic to offer a ‘pet health club’, an annual membership plan for pet households that offers preventative veterinary care at greatly reduced prices.
What are some of the strangest requests from clients over the years?
I have treated ostriches and wallabies, although this was very much in my early years in Abu Dhabi.
We try to find solutions for our clients and their pets, no matter how strange or challenging the requests may be. Of course, we would decline any requests not in the best interests of the welfare of the animals.
Do you think Abu Dhabi has become more animal-friendly over the years?
I think awareness has definitely increased over the years and pets are better tolerated and more widely accepted.
There is still a lot of opportunity for education and I think that Abu Dhabi has not yet been able to manage the stray cat and dog populations effectively.
Also, the problems of abandonment and abuse still persist, which are areas that need further attention.
What’s your advice to young people who want to follow in your footsteps?
Being a vet is a tough profession. It requires dedication and hard work and, at times, a thick skin.
However, it is very diverse and hugely rewarding – it is definitely a passion and vocation rather than just a job.
For anyone interested in the pet care industry in the UAE, I would advise volunteering for one of the many great rescue groups to better understand the challenges in the region.
- Abu Dhabi Animal Shelter. Founded in 2010 and managed by Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital, the group conducts TNR (trap-neuter-return), lost and found and adoption activities. Visit: abudhabianimalshelter.com
- Animal Action UAE. This non-profit organisation carries out fostering, re-homing, adoption and care and relief for sick and injured cats. Visit: facebook.com/animalactionuae
- Rescue of Abu Dhabi. A member of Emirates Animal Welfare Society, RAD organises TNR programmes and adoption days. Visit: facebook.com/weareroad