Good morning. I have Ms. Trilby White, the founder of Vetopia here today, and we are going to conduct an interview about Vetopia and pet services, so thank you for making the time today Trilby:
1. To start off, Trilby please can you let me know a little bit about yourself, you’re currently living in Hong Kong, is that correct?
Hi there, thank you for having me here. Yes, I have lived in Hong Kong since early 2000 and have just passed my 16 year anniversary! I love it and can’t imagine living anywhere else.
2. How many years have you been working in this industry? What inspired you to work in the veterinary industry?
I have been working in the veterinary industry for the last 13 years. My husband, David Gething, is a vet and I have a background in management, so when he decided he’d like to open his own veterinary practice it made sense for us to join forces so that I could take care of the management side of things and he could focus on providing top quality medicine to our patients.
3. What made you decide to start Vetopia in Hong Kong specifically? Why do you choose Hong Kong as the location?
Well, I live in Hong Kong and am a very busy mother of two little girls, two dogs, a cat and some fish. I like to save time by shopping on the internet whenever possible, so it made sense to me that other pet owners would benefit from this convenience too. We decided to launch in Hong Kong as it is our home ground and hopefully we can expand Vetopia around the region when we have built up a good base here.
4. So can you tell us about the brand name, why do you call it Vetopia? Any special meanings?
Yes! We love the name Vetopia. Our store is designed to help pet owners with every aspect of owning a pet. Over the years, running our veterinary clinics, I have found myself having the same discussions with pet owners over and over again. Things like: “what do I feed my new puppy?”, “Where can I buy good quality bird food?”, “where should I send my pets for boarding while I travel?”. There is so much information that we like to share with our clients, that I thought it would make sense to have that information, combined with high-quality products that the vets are always recommending in one place. A type of ‘utopia’ for pet owners. So, that’s how we got the name – by combining ‘Vet’ and ‘Utopia’.
5. It is our understanding Vetopia has an online store? What kind of services and products can pet owners can get from there?
Pet owners can get everything that they would normally buy in their local pet store or vet clinic as well as finding great advice on various medical conditions, information on raising pets and everything else they need to know about keeping pets in Hong Kong. Owners can rest assured that all advice and products have been reviewed by our veterinary team and that only the highest quality products are sold on our website.
6. Who are Vetopia’s competitors in Hong Kong?
Wherever pet owners currently buy their pet products is a theoretical competitor for Vetopia. However, we hope that by providing owners with more knowledge about pet ownership, great products, low prices and great customer service we can provide a far superior service.
7. What are the unique selling points of Vetopia?
There are a few factors that I think set Vetopia apart from the other pet products suppliers in the market. The first one is that there are many products available through Vetopia that you can usually only purchase from your vet clinic – having the ability to order these online and have them home delivered at the same or lower cost than the vet clinic is a huge advantage. This includes products such as prescription pet foods and veterinary recommended supplements. We also deliver to all areas of Hong Kong (including outlying islands) and are about to launch our ‘petpoints’ loyalty program to reward our returning customers. And most importantly, by becoming part of the Vetopia community, pet owners are being kept up to date with the latest pet ownership information so they can provide the best care for their pets.
8. What do you think are the responsibilities of a pet owner?
Pet owners have a huge responsibility to keep their pets healthy and happy. This means providing a balance with a healthy diet, regular exercise, playtime, training, cuddles and regular veterinary checks. Some owners may inadvertently mistreat their pets by spoiling them or missing one of these key points. Too many treats may result in an obese and unhealthy pet. A pet who is not well trained may develop behavioural issues as he or she gets older, meaning that he can’t play well with people or other dogs or cats. It’s a huge responsibility, but with a little bit of time and effort, being a good pet owner is not too difficult. On our website, we aim to give guidance in all these areas so that pet owners will have a better idea of the best way to look after their pets.
9. In the highly dense city of Hong Kong where housing is expensive and relatively small, do you think it is still a good place to keep a pet and if so, why?
This is a question we get asked a lot – particularly from people who are used to owning a dog or cat in countries with big houses and gardens. I think Hong Kong is a great place to own a pet, but just as in any other country, owners should take extra care when deciding to get a pet to make sure they can provide a suitable environment. For example, owners who live in a high rise who know that they won’t be able to take a dog out for regular walks may want to consider a cat or fish, who don’t require the extra outdoor time. If a person decides to get a dog, they should make a careful assessment of the time that someone will be at home during the day to make sure the dog is not left unattended for extended periods.
Luckily, Hong Kong is actually very pet-friendly. More and more dog parks are opening up in Hong Kong and there are fantastic hikes that owners can take their pets on. So many owners also have the luxury of full-time domestic helpers, ensuring that pets are not left on their own for extended periods. So in general, yes, I think Hong Kong is a great place to own a pet but that everyone needs to choose a pet suitable for their particular circumstances and be willing to put in the time and effort needed to care for them properly.
10. Here is a very common question from pets owners: since humans live a much longer life than pets, how to cope when it’s time to say goodbye to a beloved pet? Do you have any suggestions?
Saying goodbye to a loving member of the family is never easy. It’s definitely the most difficult aspect of pet ownership. There is not much that I can say to make it easier for people, except perhaps to share my own experience. When my dog died tragically and unexpectedly at a young age I was devastated. It was so painful that I honestly thought I’d never want to have another dog because the pain of losing her was so great. However, as time passed, slowly the good and happy memories started to outweigh the pain so that, in time, I could think of her with joy and started thinking about getting a new dog.
11. Do you have any advice for the Hong Kong pet owners? How do you think can they provide a better life for their pets?
One of the most rapidly growing veterinary health issues we see in Hong Kong is obesity. I highly encourage all pet owners to spend more active time with their pets – playing, running, jumping, hiking, swimming or going for slow walks – whatever is most suitable for the pet and owner. This will not only increase health and weight loss but will also help further develop the strong bond between pets and their owners, increasing everyone’s well-being. There’s no greater stress release than taking your dog for a walk.
12. What are the future challenges for Vetopia?
We’re constantly looking for new and better products to add to our website and new content to educate and inform pet owners. Continuing to do these and providing services to more pet owners in Hong Kong and (hopefully) in other overseas markets while not letting our high standards drop, will be our biggest future challenges.