How Hong Kong’s first specialist animal hospital could boost care for pets

HK$46 million facility has specialists in internal medicine, surgery and ophthalmology, and plans to cover oncology and nephrology next.

Careers rarely follow a linear trajectory. For Alane Cahalane, who runs the recently opened Veterinary Specialty Hospital of Hong Kong, the calling of caring for animals came by way of engineering.

Cahalane’s family lived just outside the US “steel city” of Pittsburgh in Pennsylvania when she was young, and her father worked in the industry as an engineer. Her older sister later followed him into engineering, so it seemed natural for her to do the same. But things took a turn just after she earned her civil engineering degree at Cornell.

“My mother got sick in hospital and it was important for me to understand the medical terms the doctors talked about,” Cahalane recalls. “I wanted to know what was happening. That’s when I wanted to become some sort of a doctor.”

She decided that becoming a veterinarian would let her combine her passion for fixing things as an engineer with her love for animals.

Growing up surrounded by cats, dogs and horses, she was constantly trying to rescue ailing creatures as a child. “If we found a stray dog, I was always the one who brought it home and tried to nurse it to make it better,” she recalls.

Cahalane, who graduated from Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine, initially worked for a local veterinary clinic after arriving in Hong Kong four years ago. But after lecturing in the Philippines, Malaysia, Vietnam and the mainland, the 40-year-old mother of two started thinking about the potential of elevating the profession in Asia, starting with Hong Kong.

With the help of husband Andrew, a successful entrepreneur, and partners in the US, she set up the HK$46 million veterinary hospital.

The Veterinary Specialty Hospital marks a milestone for Cahalane.

“It’s my first entrepreneurial move, but I had lots of help from our partners and husband, who have done this before,” she says.

The 14,000 sq ft facility in Wan Chai only takes referral cases – the sole veterinary service in the city to adopt this model – and represents a step forward in animal care. Fitted with cutting-edge equipment more commonly associated with human medicine, it focuses on specialised treatment and offers procedures similar to those for humans, including hip replacements. The team includes four specialists in ophthalmology, internal medicine and surgery, and they plan to recruit others in fields such as neurology and oncology.

Continue reading at SCMP

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