Fabian Rivers, also known online as @DreadyVet, is the lead exotics vet at an independent practice after graduating in 2018 from University of Veterinary and Pharmaceutical Sciences. In 2020, Fabian was awarded BVA Young Vet of the Year for his outstanding work in the veterinary field. He is also one of the vets on the Pets Factor, a children’s TV show on CBBC and is the presenter on BBC Three's 'Britians Puppy Boom' documentary. Fabian is incredibly passionate about his work, and often shares the highs and lows of what it means to be a vet on his social media channels. We were recently lucky enough to talk to Fabian and discover what lead him down this incredible career path...
Were you always interested in becoming a vet and what lead you to pursue this career path?
I am extremely cliché in the fact I always knew I wanted to be a 'vet' before I really had a conception of what that meant. I first believe I expressed a desire to be a vet at four years old. I was lucky enough to grow with that desire with the support of my Mom and brother. When you want to work and help animals and you enjoy the chase and challenge of working out mysteries, it feels very natural to aim for being a vet.
Can you tell us a little bit about your own pets?
I prefer to even call them family, I try to see myself as a caregiver because I feel that I don't own these guys, they just need me to support them! I live with two bearded dragons, Minerva (Minnie for short) and Brutus. A red footed tortoise and a co-parented Lakeland Terrier, called Jackson. Minnie is a food oriented, wise and observant lady and Brutus is a lazy meathead - he is affectionate but only because he means he can sleep on you. Boudicca is the red footed tortoise and she is the nosey one of the gang. Jackson is the cuddle monster but also deeply protective man of the house. He is getting older however so I let him get away with quite a bit these days!
We know you are a huge animal rights advocate and a vegan, how does this play into your career as a vet?
It both can match very well AND be a contrast. Animal rights and animal welfare aren't entirely the same thing - vegans are pro-animal rights and veterinary medicine is based on protecting animal welfare (in loose terms). I find that like any stance as a person, you have to find common ground where possible but also find your own pathways to reconcile them both, if you can. Some moments I am more vegan, some moments I am more vet. It's about being proactive in discovering which is the best approach based on the situation. Pragmatism is a very important part of life.
What do you find most challenging about being a vet?
Currently, the upsurge in demand. Less vets, greater workloads and not enough time. It is a tough time right now for your vets so remember to be kind
You were awarded BVA Young Vet of the Year last year - what does this achievement mean to you?
It was a huge moment for me because ironically I had only ever wanted to BE a vet. Getting to the point of qualifying as a practitioner was such a huge moment, I never really invested in any ideas or other awards or accolades beyond that. So it was a marquee moment for me. It felt like the ultimate validation of the work I had been doing to just become a vet. I still don't really understand it to this day.
What are your passions outside of being a vet?
I am a keen reader in philosophy (depressing stuff about existential problems of humanity, much to my friends frustration) and I also exercise a decent amount and enjoy a broad array of music from ambient to experimental to disco house etc. I also have a long love affair with photography although life has been so busy we are on a little break right now!
What has been your proudest moment throughout your career?
Qualifying. I had many lofty moments in just three years but becoming a vet was my life ambition, even if that moment stopped tomorrow, I am eternally proud I did that.
You recently starred in the BBC documentary 'Britain's Puppy Boom', do you have any advice for anyone looking to add a puppy to their family?
Look at the puppy contract for advice, make sure you see the puppy with its mother twice, try not to subscribe to the click and collect style commodification of puppies and adopt where possible. All my family are adopted and they all mean so much to me.
What 1 piece of advice would you offer to pet owners to make sure their pets are as happy and healthy as they can be?
Regular vet visits - I know I am biased but I can't tell you how many times a routine health check has turned into life saving interventions. On average, your vet will know best.
Is there anything else you'd like to share?
We all are a lot more powerful than we think. That moment which can make a lot of difference is always with grasp so make sure you seize it.
A huge thank you to Fabian for taking the time to chat with us. You can follow Fabian on Instagram