Bridging bonds between pets and their humans

Wednesday 24 April 2024

The journey to becoming a veterinarian has been a long road for alumni Ares Fang, but one well worth it for the daily reward of making a positive difference in the lives of animals and their owners.

Dr Ares Fang with his children Mila and Asher.

Unlike many children, Dr Fang says he didn’t see himself growing up to become a vet until he watched the movie Eight Below, which inspired him to get his first pet, a Siberian Husky named Scofield.

“Falling in love with Scofield, and other animals, made me realise I wanted to become a vet to help them. I graduated as a small animal vet in China after five years of study, before deciding to come to New Zealand for further education. As my Chinese license is not fully registrable here, I couldn’t become a vet straight away, so I began a veterinarian technician degree at Massey.”

After two years, Dr Fang had the opportunity to move into a Bachelor of Veterinary Science, where he completed three more years of study to graduate in 2018.

“It took 10 years, half a vet tech degree and two vet degrees to become a vet in New Zealand, which was a challenge, but I enjoyed my time studying at Massey. When I look back, it was full of fun memories. I built great relationships with my class, some of who have become my work colleagues, which is fun as there are shared experiences there.”

“Massey helped me feel prepared to face the challenges of the outside world, particularly with all the practical facilities we engaged in during our final year.”

The journey has led to the 36-year-old now working at Animates, a companion animal vet clinic, where he fulfils his dream of helping animals and their humans.

“I love describing myself as a bridge between owners and their pets. My role is to support owners in understanding their beloved family members better, and to help their pets when they’re in pain or discomfort.”

As is the nature of the job, there are good days and hard days, both of which Dr Fang says contribute to his growth as a vet.

“I remember my first job at a mixed animal vet at Southern Rangitikei Vet Service, when my first cattle patient died in the field during heavy rain. I was sitting in the office after the call, still in wet overalls, feeling sad when Tim Scotland, one of the vet directors, came in to comfort me. He helped me go in-depth into the case and taught me a valuable lesson of ‘do no harm’. It became my motto and I have been using it in my daily decision-making since.”

With this year’s World Veterinary Day theme focusing on veterinarians being recognised as essential health workers, Dr Fang says he believes the veterinary field is integral to the health and wellbeing of both animals and people.

“In the small animal world, a vet is like a paediatrician, and we play a huge role in helping pets communicate with their owners. Vets have the knowledge and the experience to interpret animals and explain issues to their owners in a language they can understand, which is extremely important for companion relationships. Vets also have a huge role in identifying, preventing and treating zoonotic diseases which can affect animals and people.”

To those considering getting into the veterinary field, Dr Fang’s advice is to make sure you’re doing it for the right reasons.

“If you think becoming a vet means you will get away from human contact and will spend your time with only animals, think again. You need strong people skills to communicate with owners, the public and your colleagues. It is a career where you are so reliant on your team and work very closely together, to the point where it’s not unusual to smell their breath sometimes!”

Dr Fang thanks his wife Megan for her support throughout his journey.

“Thank you for believing in me when I was a Massey student, and always believing I could become a veterinary professional and do my best within this field.”

Related news

Veterinary Science soars in global rankings

Thursday 11 April 2024

The university’s reputation in Veterinary Science has been highlighted in the latest Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) Subject Rankings.

Finding balance between skates and scrubs

Wednesday 13 December 2023

Bachelor of Veterinary Science student Hannah Cross, Taranaki, has mastered the art of perseverance to balance clinical placements, study and her ice hockey career.

Journey of self-discovery for vet graduate

Thursday 4 May 2023

Waiata Geddes, Ngāti Awa, Ngaitai ki Tōrere, Mataatua, Tainui waka, flew over from Sydney to attend her graduation in Palmerston North. She graduated with a Bachelor of Veterinary Science after six years of full-time study.