Dr Anna Pink MRCVS was born and raised in Cape Town in South Africa. She studied Veterinary Science at the University of Onderstepoort in Pretoria and qualified in 1997 when she moved to the UK to work and in her words "pay off the student loan”. She met her husband Dr. Juan José Fernández DVM, another vet, when she was working as a locum. “We first met in surgery. We hit it off, but for a long time we were very professional, just colleagues but then we became friends, and then more than friends!” They worked together for ten years before moving to Mallorca in 2007, and set up their own practice, Calvia Vet in 2012.

Why did you move to Mallorca?

Juan and I had decided that we didn’t want to live in the UK anymore. We wanted to give our family an outdoorsy quality of life with nice weather. I think we just kind of felt the pressure, “it's now or never we must make a move before our children start school”, you know? He had sold me this idyllic idea of Spain, so we were looking to move to Spain, not necessarily to Zaragoza which is where he is originally from, but we were looking around. We had been to quite a few places on the mainland and I couldn’t see myself living in any of them, but then we visited Pollensa on holiday and I had the sense of being at home. Mallorca is very much like Cape Town, the vegetation, the mountains and the sea, the international feel of the place, and I said to him, I could live here.

Could you speak Spanish before you moved here?

“Como Estas?” That was about it! When we moved our first son Ruben was 13 months old, and I was at home whilst Juan worked in a Vet’s in Pollensa. I was thrown into the deep end when I started to work as well, and my in-laws don’t speak any Spanish so I had to learn!

Is working as a Vet what you thought it would be?

Yes, good question, because I wish I could go back and ask my younger self. I think so. What no vet expects is how much you deal with people. There are lots of vets who actually end up dropping out and going into research or academia because they can't handle the day to day constant contact with people. So I suppose I didn't foresee that. But I also didn't foresee that I would enjoy that side of it.

Why did you decide to open your own practice?

We realised that we were never going to make ends meet properly, as employed vets in Spain. The salaries are just so bad, that to ever get onto the property market and just to kind of have a reasonable standard of life, the only way to actually have any possibility is to be a practice owner. We realised we would be better off setting up in the South, and we did our own viability study, we got the information for the number of microchips registered in this area, and we also got a sort of population density data and vets in the area and we realised that Santa Ponsa could cope with another vet because Calvia is quite saturated but there was a gap in Santa Ponsa.

What’s it like working alongside your husband all day?

We are usually on the same page with cases. So that's good. We don't have a lot of differences in the way that we work or disagreements. We complement each other well.

What about the situation with animal welfare in Spain?

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In general in Spain, it's getting a lot better. Your average Spanish person is a lot more animal friendly. But there's a huge difference as happens in every country between urbanised people and rural people. In this area, we have very few animal welfare cases. Whereas if you were in, I don't know, some little rural town, you'll see the hunters, and farmers you know, rural people. Who just doesn't want to spend any money on an animal.

What are the most popular breeds of dog and cat you are seeing?

I’ve noticed a big rise in Pomeranians recently, and Jack Russells, they're healthy, little robust things. Small dogs in general, I think, because clients can travel with them easily. You always see a fair amount of Labradors. And cats? Just your average moggie!

You have just celebrated ten years of Calvia Vet. As a business owner, what would you say were your successes?

Just constant growth. We started with zero clients, and I was sitting here with a receptionist, what we earned at the beginning pretty much just covered her salary. We had a massive loan to buy the equipment we needed, we basically used all of our savings, pensions, whatever and that was it. We grew fast, relatively, but it's exponential. So in the beginning, you grow more slowly. But our clients recommended us to other people, and word of mouth got around that there were bilingual vets that were used to dealing with English clients and knew how they liked to be treated. Now we have a lot of German and Spanish clients as well.

What about living in Mallorca? Has it turned out to be the way you expected it to?

I think it's been a lot harder than we realised. We had no idea at the beginning. I'm not a person who sits and worries too much about things. But I’m tough, I don't give up. It was really hard in the beginning, I didn't meet anyone. It was very hard to meet people and make friends. I came over with a one year old baby. I thought that would be my way of making friends. I'd heard that in Calvia and Palma, you're probably more apt to meet people. But up in the north, I think I made that two friends in six years with a baby. It is easier now, I have more friends down in the South, but it is still hard to socialise, when you run your own business, I can’t just go to a coffee morning like some of my friends.

What’s your favourite thing about the island?

It depends on what aspect I like. It’s an international melting pot of people from everywhere and it keeps it interesting. I like the spring and the autumn when you can go to the mountains.

What would be your tip for anyone moving to Spain?

Keep a job not based in Spain. We are lucky as we are in a niche profession, but many people who want to live here aren’t and the wages are not good. And learn Spanish!