Animal instincts

Weekend Glitz | Crystal Wu 17 Sep 2021

David Gething, the founder and chief veterinary officer of Creature Comforts, has loved animals all his life and made it his mission to make their lives better.

Gething was born in Melbourne and his family moved to Sydney when he was two.

"I was keen on animals from a very young age," said Gething.

"I am one of those people who knew from day one that they wanted to be a vet."

Growing up in the Eastwood suburb, some of his childhood pets included a cat, a dog, fish, lizards and turtles.

Gething recalled that without telling his father, he put goldfish and aquarium plants into his backyard swimming pool over winter when he was 13.

"We came back over summer and the whole pool was filled with goldfish and plants," he said. "My dad could not bring himself to kill them so from then on, we had the largest fish pond in the whole suburb."

After a year at Sydney University, Gething transferred to Murdoch University in Perth to read veterinary medicine with a scholarship.

It was also where he met his wife, Trilby, who now runs Creature Comforts with him.

After working in Sydney for a year, Gething saw an advertisement for a vet in Hong Kong. It sounded like an adventure.

"We planned to do a worldwide trip and Hong Kong was our first stop," he said. "But we really liked Hong Kong and ended up never leaving. That was 21 years ago."

Working for a vet for two years, one of Gething's jobs was to treat animals at the animal shelter.

The animal enthusiast quickly adopted two dogs and a cat from the shelter while he was making house calls there.

His cat, who was terrified of the clinic, was treated by Gething himself at home.

"I thought: 'If he is better at home, maybe other people have the same experience as I do?' So I thought it would be quite interesting to try a house-call business and practice where you try to see animals in the comfort of their homes."

Against the advice of colleagues and friends from the industry, Gething started as a house-call vet in 2002 as he believed it to be a better way to treat animals. His first clinic opened in the midst of SARS in 2003.

"It was a hard business to start because no one had done it before, and clients were unsure."

Gething observed that some pets tend to be anxious and scared already when they see the clinic and the white vet coat.

He said: "You don't see the same animal as you see in the house call."

Over the past 18 years, Creature Comforts has now grown to employ 120 people over five locations in Hong Kong, with thoughtful details such as a separated cat and dog waiting zone and Feliway-soaked towels for cats to keep them calm.

Being a house-call vet for almost two decades, one of the biggest takeaways for Gething is to see that people's love for their pets transcends their title or status.

"I have been very fortunate to see a whole lot of different people from different walks of life, and because you see them in their homes, they are often quite open and candid with you," he said.

Another takeaway is the satisfaction that comes after solving difficult cases and seeing the pet happy and healthy once more due to his help, said the vet.

In line with this belief, Gething came out with a cannabidiol wellness supplement called The Wellness Oil under Creatures Comfort early in the year, as well as a retail line called Animalkind in August this year.

Cannabidiol is a chemical compound found in hemp. "It actually started because I had a few clients using CBD for their pets," said Gething. Seeing the benefits of cannabidiol on the animals, he decided to do some research on them himself.

He found that while they could help animals as an adjunct, some of these imported CBD products did not comply with Hong Kong regulations. "I thought we didn't have a credible product that is scientifically proven and formulated."

Taking these into consideration, the vet decided to launch his own line of pet CBD supplements.

"We knew the product is safe by the research, but it is incredibly important to us to test each product." The line has gone through patient trials to make sure that they are accepted and liked by pets besides being safe and beneficial.

"Our philosophy is that family is everything and we treat our clients and their pets like our family - that's our north star," he said. "We're a small family business with a big heart, and we're driven by compassion, care, quality and positivity. It's a culmination of these values, our philosophy and 20 years' experience that are the essence of our CBD-based range."

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