Humans adopting animals as companion nowadays creates an economic value. Pet-care hospitals are booming alongside as a medical sub-sector.
Sources say to accommodate animal patients the number of animal clinics in the private sector in Bangladesh has been on the increase with the rise in adoption of companion pets.
Around 50 such private clinics in Dhaka are doing brisk business by giving consultancy, surgery and other services to the pets, people familiar with the developments told the FE.
The clinics are mostly located in posh areas such as Dhanmondi, Gulshan, Banani and Uttara in the capital city--as high-society people have enough and to spare for hobbies.
People at the Department of Livestock told the FE that nearly 100 private pet hospitals are in operation across the country now. They are mainly in Dhaka, Chattogram, Sylhet, Rajshahi and Khulna cities.
There are government-run animal hospitals in almost each upazila. But the animal patients are differentiated from those admitted into upazila animal hospitals. In urban areas, the pet patients are cat, dog, pigeon, birds and even fighter cock.
On the other hand, in rural areas, the patients are mostly domestic animals like cattle and goats.
"Private-sector pet hospital is a new development in Bangladesh," says Dr Manjur Kader, president of Bangladesh Veterinary Council, a regulatory body of vet and its institutions, formed in 1982.
The vet physician has done an economic diagnosis of the phenomenon. "To my mind, this is due to higher purchasing power of people, otherwise fancy does not develop," he says.
He has noticed the number of pet animals also increasing significantly in urban areas. "Both private and government animal hospitals get huge patients every day."
He says this is not merely keeping pet animals--rather they now having a status change as companion animals.
Only the Central Vet Hospital in Dhaka treats nearly 200 patients a day.
He, however, says there is no accurate statistics relating to the pet and the private clinics in Bangladesh. "We're now conducting a small survey to determine the number of pets," Dr Kader told the FE.
He feels that to regulate the institutions effectively, accurate data are very important. And that's why they are conducting the pet headcount.
Although Bangladesh never counts the animal populations, it is guesstimated that the dog population is over 1.6 million, more than 80 per cent of those living in the streets.
Vet people told the FE that another reason behind the growth in the pet clinics in the urban areas is lifestyle where family bonds are very much fragile.
In the meantime, Dr Safiul Ahad Sardar, director at the Central Veterinary Hospital in Bangabazar area of the city, told the FE that the number of pet animals has surged in recent years.
But the selection of pet animals has also changed. Earlier, the rich used to rear dogs but now it has been replaced by the cat.
"Cat, and definitely Persian cat, costs more than Tk 40,000 each as the main pet in Dhaka," Mr Sardar says.
He says local supply of cats is usually from neighbouring India but there are many local breeding centres who sell to the pet-fancy people.
Dr Ahad notices behavioral changes catalyzed by pet empathy. "I believe such fancy people who keep the pets in their residences ultimately help their kids on how to be humane," he says.
However, the clinics also provide online services, i.e., consultancy. They charge on average Tk 1000 for such services.
Sagars Pet Clinic, a leading private one in the Dhanmondi area, provide online consultancy as many do not come to the hospital due to the coronavirus pandemic. "Our doctors also give home service which charges much higher than in hospitals," one senior official at the clinic told the FE correspondent.
The fees vary from clinic to clinic. It ranges between Tk 500 and Tk 1000.
He says they treat more than 100 patients each day.
There are more leading pet clinics in Dhaka: Vet & Pet Care, Pet Care, Gulshan Pet Clinic, Chittagong Veterinary Hospital in the 300-foot area in the city.
The executives at the private clinics say that such type of service is a new entrepreneurship in Bangladesh. They hint that the pet animals will grow more as the fancy has high correlation with people's income.
It will attract more talented people in the profession in future as the country has now over 7,000 vets, a number outmatched by the growing demand.