Dr Ivan Rakic – Serbian Vet and NOT ONLY!


Dr Ivan Rakic , Serbia

      1. How many years you are vet ?

I graduated in Belgarade vet University in 1997, spent one year working in a small animal practice as a volontier in Belgrade. As I could not get a job in Serbia I started to look for jobs on internet. That is how I find offer to work in Iceland but not as a vet. My first job in Iceland was training horses and a farm work.I got it in March 1999 just when bombing startet. That was the hardest period In my life.
Officialy I started working as a vet in Iceland in July 2000 ,but it was only a temporaly licence. I had to go to EU and nostrify my vet diploma as the Serbia was not me,mber of the EU.

2. How many times you left your country and why?

In 2002 I mooved to England and apply for the exam for membership in Royal College. I was working one year as a vet nurse in small animal practice in Brighton, learnig for the exam. In 2003 in July I passed exam and become MRCVS. I was now quolified to work in the UK but I still could not get the job. I applied for more then 50 job offers but not accepted . Than I went back to Iceland and continue to work there until 2004 . In 2004 I went to Uk again to atend the course for the official veterinary surgeons and got licence to work as a , vet inspector in the UK and the countries of comonwlth.
After that I got the job in May Bole in Scotland, where I was working part time in the abatoar as an OVS and part time in mixed vet practice. I was not very happy with that job. It was very badly paid and the standard in the practice was below the averige British standard. After les than a year I decides to quit and went back to Serbia where I started my own practice. But I did not stop working in Iceland. I continue to work in Iceland every year during September and October until now. At the moment while I am writing this letter I am in Iceland. Going back to Serbia in November.

3. Tell us more about the projects in which you are involved?

Project of comparative study of the joint development in dogs and jackals started two yars ago. Profesor Henri Van Bree from the department of diagnostig imaging at the Ghent vet University is the leader of the project. The aim is to compare the bone desity of the dogs bones with the density of the jackal bones. Size of the animales, conformation of the bones and joints and moovment. We choose the jackal as the closest wild relative of the dog. The size of the jackal is simlar to an average dog and the weight is from 11-20 kg. We are looking for any incongruency and deformities in elbow and tarsal joint of both species.
So far e have not find any abnormality in jackal joints but we need more animals to check. My duty is to colect jackals that had been shoot during the hunt in Serbia. Population of jackals is quite big and it is growing by every year. Only in my area it had been shoot about 20 jackals during the year and in all Serbia more than 500. I am also taking xrays of the elbows and tarsus.
Jackals are protected during the breeding season in Serbia. But their number must be under control as they are thret to other animals like row ders ,hares, fasans and domestic animales as well as threat of rabies spreding if the population of jackals went out of the control.
You can see more about this project on fb page veterinarska ambulanta livada, it is on English.

Another two projets I am running on my own.
My vet practice ia also registered as a rescue center for the wild life. Dears,foxes, badgers, birds of pray,jackals, sometimes bears and many other wild anmals. I usualy get yong or injured wild animals and keep them until they grow or recower .
This is a charity work and I don’t get paid for it. Yu can find more photos of those animals on the fb page vet ambulanta livada.

Last project I am, working on is establishing equine surgery or hospital in Serbia.
In 2012 I manage to performe the first succesful colic surgery on a horse in Serbia. It has never been done before in my country, not even at our veterinary university. All knoledge and experience in that field I have gained at the veterinary university of Ghent in Belgium. I was lucky to have opportunity to spend few weeks every year at the equine surgery departent at Ghent university and it help me a lot.
Facilities are the main prolem. Equipment is very expensive ,so I have to make most of the equipment on my own or to impovize everything from operating table to anaesthetic machine.
So far, we performed six surgeries on horses with colic and for of them had surviwed. Lot of work still has to be done . We need more knowlege, more experience, more cases, more money and equipment.

4. What do you think about veterinary medicine in Serbia?



The first private vet practice in Serbia was estalished in eaely 90ies. Before that we had veterinary service run by the government. They mostly worked with farm animals.

First private practice was open in Belgrade,than in other towns Novi Sad and Nis.
During the period from 1990 util 2000 develpment of the small animal practice was slow. Lot of vetrinarians started their own busines but the sanctions, war in former Yugoslavia and economy crisis had a big influence on develment of the vet practice.
After the year of 2000, situation was getting better. Lot of young veterinarians had left the country looking for better life but meny of them went abroad to get more experience and learn.
From that time it was much easier to get equipment and drugs from Europe and many people start importing veterinary equipment. We were also using equipment from the humane hospitals.
The most important moment in developing veteinay practice in Serbia was posibility to invite experts from all ower the world to give lectures in Serbia. Thanks to SASAP small animal veterinary practicioners assotiation, we had oportunity to see profesors from the best universities in Europe and USA. Step by step we gradualy rised standards of our veterinay practice to a level which is quite close to standard in some European countries. At the moment we have more than 100 registered small animal practices in Belgrade. Not all of them are working at the same standards and there is stil very big difference between practices in Serbia. Equipment is not a problem any more, every one can get an ultra sound or a xray machine. We have good seminars and meetings so people can continue learning. The things that we don’t have are specialists or diplomate.
We have a few good vets in neurology, radiology but we need recognised and aproved dipomates in every field of veterinary medicine.
It is dificult to achive specialy if your country is not member of Europen Union. Specialisation is expensive and very few people could aford it. First step in that direcrion would be to start cooperation between vet universities. Our vet university in Belgrade had made contract with vet university in Ghent and it is a bigining of cooperation. Exchangeng profesors, postgraduaes and mutual projects.
I can say that situation in small animal practice is far away from perfect but it is improving all the tme. Large animal practice is at the same level where it was before 2000, the number of cattle is going down and some improvemwnt was done only on a few big private farms.
Large animal practice is mainly surviwe with a help of govrnment which is finansing preventive mesures as vaccination and testing for the diseases.
Equime practice does not egzist in the form that is recognisable in developed Europwan countries. There are les than 20 000 horses In Serbia. More than half of that number are sport or recreative horses. We have 15-20 veterinarians who maily work with horses. We don’t have equine clinics or hospitals and all work is done at the field. Developing the first equme surgry theater and facilities for hospitalization of horses is still In progres. The number of horsis is growing gradualy and the quolity of the sport horses is gettinf better so I a expecting some improvement in equne medicine too.
I am opimistic

5. Tell us the most interesting(funny) vet story in your pracitice?



I will tell you the most embarasing story from my life which is now watching from the time distance one of the funniest I had in my life.

I have just graduated from vet university and I was already working a bit as a vet in my neighborhood.
I was in my village where my grandparents were living. I kept my horse there among some sheep that my grand parens had.

I got a phone call from some one that had a dog, a sar pei. Not any one could aford an sar pei in that time. They were some posh people and probably wealthy ones.

It was May, but a bit rainy so I was wearing a rubber boots and a short trouses and a T shirt, working something arround the garden and just thinking of having change to meet my new clients.

My father just came to me and said-

Ivan, it looks it is going to rain again,could you go to the field and bring the sheep back before the rain starts? Just watch the big ram, he started to atack and kik people!

Aaghh… I am expecting someone… but I went to bring the sheep, it won’t last long.

When I open the gate the big ram had atack me imediately, I manage to escape once and jump ower the fence. It was a big ram ower 120kg. He was looking at me and threatening . Next time when he atack I manage to escape again and grabe him arround the neck while he was in the corner of the fence.
I was holding the ram arround the neck but still didn’t solve the problem. I had to go at least 200m with sheep on a country road and if I let him go he will atack again and I will not be able to escape .

I grabed the wool on his neck and jump on his back, he turn in a full galop imediately. The next moment about 20 sheep with lambs were galoping along the country road toward the house and I was behind them riding the ram in a western style .
I was just thinking how clever I was when I sow a big black merceses in front of my house gate. It was too late to jump from he ram and I could not stop him.
The sheep pass through the gate and I was approaching in galop when smartly dressed gentlemen went out from the mercedes. I just rich the ground with my legs and it was eough for the ram to feel the freadom and run away. I stayed in front of my new client and he just steared at my boots and short trouses and asked-

Would you be so kind to show me where doctor Ivan Rakic lives?



6. What do you think about Vets on the Balkans?

I think most of our colleagues still believe that the world outside the Balcan peninsula is eldorado for the veterinarians.
I am working in Iceland at the moment. I am spending here two months every year, even I can stay and work here permanently.
There are too many vets in most of the West European countries. Just in Italy there are 18 veterinary universities. In  UK  7 vet universities. It is more and more difficult to get a job as a veterinary surgeon in Europe. Sallaries are smaller than they use to be 10 years ago.
I Know some vets who are earning more in Serba than some vets in Germany or UK. But for the average vet is still difficult to find a well paid job in Serbia. People has to understand that university diploma is not enough. You need skills, specialisation in some field of vet medicine. We have very few real specialists in Serbia. I would advice young vets to go to England or Germany, Belgium to do internalship or specialise in some field and come back to their countries. Now a days you can’t imagine being a vet withouth speaking at least one foreign language. You need English language in every segment of your life. If you want to learn more – you have to go to some countries with higher standards in veterinary medicine and spend some time there . The goal for me is to bring that knowledge back to your home country. Veterinary Universities should be the first to folow that strategy.

I feel very happy and proud when I see colleagues from Bulgaria , Romania, Croatia, Greece , Macedonia, Bosnia at one veterinary simposium. Small animal vets are always better organised than others. It would be good idea to organize international meetings in equine medicine or large animal medicine. Hungaria is probably the leader in the region if we are talking about equine medicine. They should organize CPD s for equne vets. I am sure meny vets from the region would like that.


Luba Gancheva