Success Story – Dr Duan

Our latest success story features Dr. Duan Lei, a truly remarkable veterinarian. Dr. Duan has been supporting our Train the Trainers project for several years. 

We are thrilled to spotlight such an inspirational figure in the realm of animal care and compassion. Dr. Duan’s lifelong actions display his pure, altruistic devotion to animal welfare. As a child, he took abandoned dogs that were often ill into his home. Young Duan was heartbroken to helplessly watch many of the rescued animals die because of there being no veterinary care available. From this point onward, Dr. Duan dedicated his life to the well-being of animals. He works to ensure that all companion species have access to the high-quality care that they deserve. Dr. Duan’s wholehearted commitment to humane virtues reverberates throughout his work. He opened his own pet clinic in Changsha, Hunan where he treats animals for free. We are so grateful for his ongoing work with ACTAsia as a leader in our Train the Trainers project.

What is ‘Train the Trainer’?

ACTAsia strives to drive sustainable, compassion-based change for animals, people and the environment. Key to this are our Caring for Life (CFL) Education for Professionals programmes, which offer training and professional development to influential community members.

Vets for Change, which includes our Train the Trainers (TTT) project, is one important component of the CFL for Professionals framework. Partnering with Vets for Compassion (VFC), ACTAsia launched the pioneering programme, Vets for Change, to advance best veterinary practice. Train the Trainers has been educating veterinarians across China in animal welfare and humane practices for almost fifteen years!

In China, the veterinary knowledge produced by veterinary schools is largely theoretical. As a result, many Chinese veterinarians enter the profession with minimal practical training and no understanding of animal welfare.

ACTAsia’s Train the Trainers equips veterinarians with fundamental clinical veterinary skills and emphasises animal welfare as a professional priority.

Since its kick-off in 2009, Vets for Change has had an astounding impact, connecting international experts to local vets across China. ACTAsia has established professional workshops in both urban and remote areas including Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Nanning, Yulin, and Qinghai. At these workshops, field leaders give vital, practical training in the use of anaesthesia in surgery, pain management, rabies prevention and spay and neuter methods for humane population control. They also teach aseptic technique, general consideration of animal welfare and respect for animal sentience. 

This one-of-a-kind project continues to empower Chinese vets to become agents for change in their own country. Thousands of professionals all over China have engaged in our programme and Vets for Change provides a powerful platform for advancing standards of veterinary care.  Vets for Change turns veterinarians into a trusted profession as advocates for One Health, with the credibility to be called on as a voice for animals in terms of diseases control and care.

Dr. Duan ensuring a swift recovery post-operation in Qinghai, with the watchful eyes of the shepherd owner by his side.

Dr Duan’s Incredible Impact

Dr. Duan has been involved with the Train the Trainers project since its inception 14 years ago, taking part in our very first veterinary training workshop in Beijing. He shares that his lasting involvement in ACTAsia’s collaborative endeavour to improve professional animal care practices has given him ‘the great benefit of meeting so many like-minded veterinarians.’

‘Dr. Duan is the sweetest, most gentle vet I have ever seen. His focus in surgery or when performing anaesthetic is in total connection to the animal. He is always the vet who is seen spending time with the animal before and well after surgery (and has a special affinity for cats). 

This gentle manner is also seen in his connection to humans – the other vets he works with. He brings a calm and thoughtful presence to his teaching. There is no ego or drama, just genuine care and putting others first.’

Dawn Peacock, ACTAsia Programmes Director

Dr. Duan is the veterinary team leader in Qinghai, a remote and rural province in China with extremely high altitudes of more than 3500 metres. Animal healthcare professionals in Qinghai typically lack formal qualification. Regional vets are assigned their role by the local government. Veterinary skills and knowledge are unofficially inherited from elders in the field. The current structure in Qinghai makes effective veterinary practices far and few between.

Though already a long-term proponent of Vets for Change, Dr. Duan identifies a turning point upon his first visit to Qinghai in 2017 for the first Train the Trainer veterinary outreach in this area. The harsh conditions, lack of support for professionals and insufficient infrastructure for animal care means that ACTAsia’s Train the Teacher is especially imperative in Qinghai. Dr. Duan realised this in 2017 when exposed to the region’s difficult realities. His commitment to ACTAsia’s vet training initiative cemented. the urgent significance of his role as a trainer.

His role as Qinghai veterinary team leader is equally arduous as it is inspirational. Providing veterinary support to the remote area is fraught with numerous significant challenges. The onerous journey and inhospitable environment are accompanied by altitude sickness. In addition, the lack of access to resources in Qinghai makes providing veterinary support to the area incredibly difficult.

Dr. Duan faces these adversities with measureless resilience. Despite the immense hardships, Dr. Duan, alongside other trainers, local vets and the ACTAsia team, works tirelessly to improve animal welfare standards. The task of introducing our groundbreaking programme in the furthest regions of China seemed almost insurmountable. Yet, it is in these very areas such as Qinghai where professional education is most needed, and with the incredible dedication of people like Dr. Duan, we are building a more compassionate world.

‘It’s hard for one person alone to make a difference in the world. But together as a group, we can go further,’ says Dr. Duan.

The importance and impact of our project in Qinghai does not go unrecognised. Since our first outreach in 2017, the local Qinghai government has continued to invite ACTAsia for veterinary support. We will return annually to educate vets and provide veterinary treatment to animals that would not otherwise have access. Following a two-year, COVID-19-induced pause, we were ecstatic to conduct our 2023 outreach workshop in Qinghai two weeks ago!

Thank you, Dr. Duan, for your unfaltering advocacy for animal welfare and your ongoing support of ACTAsia’s vision. We are so proud to be developing ambassadors for best veterinary practice.

Dr. Duan actively participating in a ‘Train the Trainer’ webinar in Qinghai