AS a boy, Dr Lawson Cairns always had compassion for animals. He loved getting to know everything there was to know about them, which led him to pursue a career in veterinary science.The Scotland-born veterinarian said he moved to South Africa two years after he qualified to be a veterinarian, and started working in Pinetown in 1976. He then decided to move to a branch in Hillcrest, which he later bought.“I started work on my own in a smaller premises, treating all animals, large and small, and after a few years I built a new hospital, Hillcrest Veterinary Hospital,” said Cairns.He said when they moved to the new premises they could no longer treat the larger animals such as horses and cattle. “We are only doing companion animals now and we started a full 24-hour service where vets live on the premises.”The Hillcrest Veterinary Hospital is the only practice in the area that opens 24/7. “We are the only ones who work around the clock to see to the animals’ needs at any hour. “There are 10 other practices in the area but they only do the routine work and we are the only ones who are open 24/7,” said Cairns.The doctor also travels to several African countries doing lectures on behalf of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, where he teaches vets from other countries how to work with what they have in order to look out for the animals’ wellbeing.“I’ve been doing this for the past nine years and I’m the one who arrange everything,” he said.“With these lectures we are trying to improve the level of care of the animals in the countries we go to.”He said that he’s not done any lecturing outside African countries. “I’m purely doing African countries and I visit nine countries a year.” He added that he’s got three countries organised for this year so far: “I enjoy doing these lectures as they allow me to help animals even by educating others.”He said they’ve done many lectures that focus on rabies because of the frequency with which rabies occurs in many countries. “We try to create awareness on what can be done and should be done to try to avoid the frequency of occurrences of cases of rabies,” he said.He encourage the community to take care of their pets and take them for regular check-ups at the vet, which will enable a better life for our furry friends.