Happiness, heartache and hope: Behind the scenes of BBC One’s new 24/7 Pet Hospital
European specialist in small animal surgery, Anna Cronin, on what a typical day is like at the award-winning County Durham hospital and shares some of her weirdest and most wonderful cases.
When they’re sick, we put all our trust and our precious pets’ lives in the hands of vets. But have you ever wondered what goes on behind those doors?
Wonder no more, thanks to the new BBC One series 24/7 Pet Hospital. The heartwarming 10-part series has been shot in and around Wear Referrals Hospital in County Durham, showcasing the vets and nurses who provide care for their furry patients 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
From performing hip replacement surgery on a tiny Shih Tzu to extracting a corn on the cob from a Boxer to treating a wild owl injured by a car, we get the chance to watch the highly skilled, close-knit team take on whatever is thrown at them.
And one of the staff members is European specialist in small animal surgery (soft tissue) Anna Cronin who has dedicated her life to helping animals. We caught up with her to find out what to expect on the show and some of her weirdest and most wonderful cases.
WHAT CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE ON THE SHOW?
It’s good to give owners an insight into what goes on behind our vet doors and what work we actually get up to. Owners only get to see the consultation room, but this gives you all a chance to see how advanced our hospital actually is. You’ll follow patients from when they go in for a consultation, some of their time in the wards, how the nurses take care of them and come into the surgery with some of us as well. I hope that this programme helps to show owners there are more options out there for their sick pets as we specialise in fields that most veterinary practices don’t.
WHAT MADE YOU WANT TO BECOME A VET?
I wanted to become a singer when I was three, but I can’t sing so that wasn’t going to happen. I have always had a ton of pets from stick insects to rabbits and dogs, my mum called it my little zoo. When I was seven, I found a cat with a broken toe and found it fascinating how the vet could help the cat to walk again. That’s when I knew that was what I wanted to do. I love being able to make an impact and it brings me so much joy to be able to see, help and love animals on a daily basis.
TALK TO US ABOUT YOUR ROLE.
My role is like when you go to the doctors, and they refer you to a hospital where you see a specialist surgeon, I’m that specialist consultant. I originally started as a vet, but I’ve trained further in residency. I do soft tissue and orthopaedic which involves liver surgery and gallbladder, heart, chest and lung cancer. I’m so lucky that I get to see and treat different cases every day, no day is the same.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS SPECIALITY?
I always wanted to be an equine surgeon but the people who taught me in my training in Copenhagen made me feel so at home in a small surgery and at ease. I also had amazing mentors and training in Vienna where I met one of the best surgeons who took me under his wing. Seeing his work and being to work so closely with someone who is so good in their field inspired me to go down the same path.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE WEIRDEST AND MOST WONDERFUL CASES YOU’VE TREATED?
I have worked with many exotic animals; we had a sea otter who couldn’t dive. I’ve also had a lot of trauma cases here, for example, a stick went through a dog’s chest. But some of my highlights were that I treated a cheetah, special bearded dragons, and larger cats, too.
WHAT ARE YOUR TOP TIPS FOR PETS WHO DON’T LIKE GOING TO THE VET?
Visit your vet for a yearly health check and hopefully, the pet will get used to going. If your vet is local too, try walking by and popping in to go on the scales. Most receptionists will have treats behind their desks which will help to create a more enjoyable experience.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO SOMEONE WHO IS WANTING TO BECOME A VET?
Be prepared early on by looking at what is required so you can make sure you know what school classes to apply to. Visit a vets to see the practice and know what you are getting yourself into. There are also summer schools you can apply to as well. Cambridge University used to teach students on their Instagram how to apply for vet school so maybe check that out, too.
24/7 Pet Hospital has been produced for BBC One by Twenty Six 03, the Gateshead-based production company behind the BBC Three series Angels of the North and has been commissioned by BBC Daytime and BBC England,
Watch this 10-part series on BBC iPlayer by following this link.