AL AIN // For pet owners who lament high veterinary prices in the capital, it may be worth a drive to Al Ain's only fully equipped veterinary clinic and hospital. At Al Rawda Veterinary Medical Centre, veterinarians are quietly offering services for pets at up to a third less than their counterparts in Abu Dhabi. The little-known clinic on Sheikh Khalifa Street charges just Dh250 (US$68) to spay a cat, compared with an average cost of Dh600 in the capital.
"Many of Abu Dhabi's vets will give you a price quote over the telephone," said Dr Stanislav Vyrva, from the Ukraine. "But when you get there, other charges will be added. We offer a free consultation and a free check-up. We care about animals first and then the money. Pet lovers can take on the 140km drive from Abu Dhabi and save themselves hundreds of dirhams." Al Rawda started out seven years ago as a falcon hospital. Cats and dogs were added, but staff soon realised a need to cater to snakes, kangaroos, crocodiles, peacocks, parrots, monkeys, cheetahs, lions, leopards and horses.
"Al Ain is unique in that there are a number of farms around where exotic animals are kept, far more than in Abu Dhabi," said Dr Vyrva. "The only animals we don't get involved with are agricultural animals, save for horses. There are plenty of veterinarians around specialising in that field, but there are maybe a handful of doctors in the region who are experienced in birds of prey and exotic animals."
The veterinary centre is equipped with a laboratory, two operating theatres, ultrasound machines, tools for flexible endoscopy, a trauma centre, an intensive care unit and minimally invasive electro-surgical equipment that allows pets to recover faster. "For example, our cat-spaying operations are done with an incision of less than one centimetre across," said Dr Jennifer Khurdiga, the centre's other veterinarian, also from the Ukraine.
Yasser Salem al Balooshi, 37, discovered the clinic several years ago. "Before finding Al Rawda, I used to drive to Al Khazna, Shawamekh, Al Zaabeel and other areas of the emirate and Dubai for my pets," Mr al Balooshi said. @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org