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Every treated animal is a testament to the admiration of the veterinary profession

“After the treatment of each animal, I admire my work and profession,” says veterinarian Aragats Ghulunts, who admitted that he didn’t initially dream of becoming a veterinarian upon finishing school.

In his modernly equipped veterinary clinic in the village of Tegh, Ghulunts reminisces about past discussions regarding his career choice. “I was dreaming of becoming a serviceman and had prepared my documents for admission to a military academy. I was the youngest in the family, and my mother was not reconciled to the idea of me living far away. I gave in to my mother’s urge and my father’s advice to become a veterinarian,” Ghulunts explained, emphasizing that his decision was made hastily and without any initial interest in the profession.

However, he quickly grew to love it. “If I didn’t love it, I wouldn’t have worked for 34 years,” he added with a smile, noting that he has never been absent from work in all that time.

After finishing his studies in Yerevan, Aragats Ghulunts started his career at the veterinary station in Goris. In 1992, after his father was wounded during the Artsakh war, he returned to his native village and became the community veterinarian in Tegh, serving the neighboring villages as well.

“The meeting with the Strategic Development Agency NGO has significantly impacted both my life and career,” Ghulunts noted, highlighting the organization’s support in equipping the veterinary center with modern tools and technology.

Over the years, the stereotype that there is no need to pay for animal treatment has changed. Today, veterinary services are recognized as paid services. Although Ghulunts finds it easier to work with animals than their owners, he emphasizes the importance of following safety rules, as animals can be aggressive. He recalled a recent incident: “I went to the farm to treat a cow. The cow was familiar; I had helped it a few days ago. I confidently approached, but it hit my knee so hard that I couldn’t move for a month.”

Ghulunts regrets that the number of large and small cattle in the region has significantly decreased in recent years, a decline attributed to the lack of pastures following the loss of liberated territories after the 2020 war. “Lack of income frustrates farmers from properly caring for their animals,” he regretfully recorded.

According to Aragats Ghulunts, the most important qualities for a veterinarian are respect and trust from farmers and the community, which are not easily earned. “It happens that you get a call at three or four o’clock in the morning. You wake up, get dressed, and without a word go to help the animal. You don’t even consider another option,” he shared, adding that he always keeps his phone available, ready to provide advice even over long distances.

A veterinarian should be widely perceived as a person with knowledge

When I rescued an animal for the first time, I became convinced that saving animals is achievable with the right knowledge,” says Armen Jaghinyan, a veterinarian with 47 years of experience. For him, veterinary medicine is fundamentally a science, far removed from folk remedies.

Born and raised in Stepanavan, Armen Jaghinyan graduated from the local agricultural college before pursuing further studies at St. Petersburg Agrarian University, where he specialized in epidemiology.

Reflecting on his academic years, Jaghinyan recalls, “Our class comprised 270 students, with more than half being girls. I wish we had similar gender representation in Armenia today.” He notes that during the Soviet era, veterinary medicine was held in high esteem, but now it’s considered one of the aging professions in Armenia.

“A skilled professional earns respect. When clients are satisfied with the service quality, they treat veterinarians as family friends,” Jaghinyan remarks, expressing his desire for the public to recognize veterinary medicine as a science and for veterinarians to cultivate a positive image.

Recalling his early career, Jaghinyan shares, “Fresh out of university, I got a job at a farm. I was assigned the night shift, and one of the heifers was due to give birth. I was certain it would be twins and felt nervous about handling it. But I focused, provided assistance during the birth, and felt immensely proud of the successful outcome.”

For many years, Jaghinyan has also been a teacher at Stepanavan State Agricultural College. He believes that with even a slight interest in animals, students can develop a passion that grows into a career.

“There’s a noticeable shift in the government’s attitude towards veterinarians. Under the ‘MAVETA’ project (Modernizing Vocational Education and Training in Agriculture in Armenia), the profession is being taught in several colleges using a dual educational system,” Jaghinyan notes, stressing the need for more efforts to address the profession’s aging workforce issue.

“Today, the working conditions have vastly improved. We have a technologically advanced veterinary center that offers professional and technical support to veterinarians in the community and region,” Jaghinyan proudly asserts, highlighting their continuous dedication with no days off.

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I see gratitude in the eyes of every recovered animal

“I see gratitude in the eyes of every recovered animal that I save. Those eyes stay with me always,” Vahagn Sargsyan started the conversation with undisguised enthusiasm after seeing off the visitors at the veterinary clinic.

Vahagn Sargsyan’s veterinary clinic and pharmacy are in the town of Kapan. During our visit, he had just vaccinated a dog and, careful with advice saw off the owner and the pet.

“My passion for this profession arose during my work. I chose it by my mother’s advice,” the veterinarian continued, expressing his joy at following his mother’s guidance.

With the same enthusiasm, he recounted his first operation, performed while he was still a third-year student.

“During a summer vacation in the village, I was informed that a pregnant sheep had a hernia and would die if not slaughtered. Fortunately, I successfully removed the hernia, and the sheep gave birth normally,” Vahagn Sargsyan recalled, noting how the entire village spoke of the incident with great enthusiasm.

The veterinarian hopes one of his sons will continue his work. He involves his school-age boys in his duties, instilling in them a love for veterinary medicine.

“I pay them for their ‘work’ so they can truly understand both the field and the work,” he shared his experience of promoting the profession with a smile pointing to the boys hurrying to the clinic after school.

Anyway, the veterinarian, with 15 years of experience, finds work outside the clinic more appealing. As a community veterinarian, he frequently visits villages and farms.

“The attitude, warmth, and respect of the villagers are very encouraging and at the same time binding. When you have authority, you suffer less, but the responsibility increases,”  he emphasized.

This sense of responsibility inspired Sargsyan to establish a veterinary pharmacy. The assortment of the only pharmacy operating in the community was not updated frequently and the required essential drugs were not available.

“A veterinarian’s weapon is medicine. Without drugs, your actions are limited,” he asserted. At the same time, he is not going to be satisfied with his knowledge and experience.

“The field of veterinary is rapidly evolving and I feel the need for continuous training to learn about advanced international practices, particularly in domestic animal treatment,” Vahagn Sargsyan acknowledges the importance of keeping pace with the time. Yet, he is committed to staying in his hometown. Though he once considered leaving, but after the April war in 2016, he firmly decided to live and raise his children in Kapan, which is already a border settlement today.

“Being a veterinarian means having a strong will, and paving your own way. That is the formula for success in our profession,” Vahagn Sargsyan concluded the conversation with deep conviction.

Being a veterinarian is an honorable job

“Being a veterinarian is an honorable job, because you deal with animals,” Artur Titanyan began the conversation with a convincing voice, stepping into the cattle barn in a special outfit.
The cattle farm, where we met Artur Titanyan, is located in the Tashir community. It is built in line with modern standards and harmoniously complements the picturesque nature of Lori, creating a wonderful scene of agrarian life.
It was this beautiful landscapes that accompanied the 60-year-old veterinarian throughout his life and influenced his choice of profession.
“My parents kept cattle. My interest and love for them started from there,” Titanyan recalls his childhood, adding that his parents did not interfere, and he became a veterinarian on his own accord.
Throughout his career, he was sure that by saving the lives of animals, he helps people. He told about such an episode with great enthusiasm.
“You know, in families making ends meet, cows provide the main source of income. Once in one such family, a cow was supposed to give birth, but a complication arose. They could not provide proper help and when I arrived, they had already decided to slaughter it. I managed to save both the cow and the calf with the help of the birthing device. You will not imagine the happiness of the owners. They were so happy that they decided to present the calf to me. Of course, I didn’t take it, but that feeling that I not only saved the animals, but helped a family” Artur Titanyan does not hide the feeling of pride and the sparkle in his eyes.
Despite the conscientious attitude towards his profession, Titanyan speaks with sadness about the stereotypical perceptions of the public, that the profession of a veterinarian is mostly associated with unpleasant smells and dirty work. He sees the main problem in the forgetting of the profession, lack of awareness.
“We save not only the lives of animals, but also prevent the spread of public diseases and epidemics,” our interlocutor emphasizes the importance of the role of veterinarians, expecting the public’s understanding and appropriate attitude.
Meanwhile, the work of a veterinarian, despite being in demand, attracts a few as a profession.
“There is no such day that a veterinarian leaves the house, does not do a good deed and does not get paid,” assures Artur Titanyan, stressing that a good specialist is appreciated and paid properly. He says the same to the students and apprentices visiting the animal farm. The latter are students studying in colleges with a dual educational system.
According to the veterinarian, in recent years there has been a positive shift in the promotion of the profession due to the “Modernizing Vocational Education and Training in Agriculture in Armenia” (MAVETA) program, within the framework of which veterinary is included among the professions taught with a dual educational system.
Artur Titanyan also hopes that many girls will choose this profession.
“The opportunities opened up by the sector are enormous. If they do not want to enter a cattle farm, they can definitely wear nice clothes and work in the field of food ssecurity, in laboratories, veterinary pharmacies, vet clinics,” Titanyan tries to stimulate interest in the profession of a veterinarian, using this opportunity of being interviewed.

Business with significant principle of love for animals

Leyli Chobanyan, who is an experienced farmer, lives in the village of Agarak, not far from the town of Stepanavan, Lori Region. For the past 25 years, Leila has begun her day by caring for the animals, working tirelessly to keep her farm thriving and growing.

In 1990, I got married and moved from Vanadzor city to the village of Agarak, not far from Stepanavan. My husband’s family owned three cows, and my mother-in-law was highly skilled at processing milk and making tasty cheese and other dairy products.
As I was born and raised in a city, it was difficult for me to be engaged in animal husbandry at first, but after a few years, I began to assist my husband, and we even decided to increase the number of our animals.

At the beginning our farm was small, but through hard effort, it increased to 70 heads of cattle and 30 heads of small ruminants. Now the number of animals is much more bigger, but it is easier for me, because many functions are mechanized, we have different types of equipment: milking machine, milk separator, etc.

We sell some of our milk, and I process the rest myself, making cheese, butter, and yogurt. My customers impatiently wait to purchase my products.

We rented 60 hectares of land to ensure the fodder base for our animals. I have two sons who work equally with me and my husband. We cultivated fodder for our cattle and sold the extras to the neighboring farmers.

If you want to be successful while living in the village, you have to work every day. Animals require daily care, you should start each day thinking about your animals, doing everything to improve their conditions, properly organize feeding and care.

I believe that our success was also due to the fact that my husband grew up in the village and helped his parents with agricultural jobs, so he learned how to cultivate the land and keep cattle.

He also taught me various functions: now we assist the cow during calving, both of us take the animals to pasture, and we even manage to provide first aid to the animals before the veterinarian arrives.