2002 Judge’s Selection

 Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Awards 2002

Organised by Pfizer Animal Health in association with the Irish Veterinary Journal

Judge’s Selection

Vets from all26 counties in the Republic of Ireland were nominated for the 2002 Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Awards.   Here we present a selection of the top stories written by and submitted by members of the public for the 2002 Awards. The results of this year’s award are likely to be announced in early December and details will be posted on this web site. The following is a short selection of nominations which the judges believe give a flavour for the awards and the very real stories behind them. These are presented in alphabetical order (grouped together by county) and in no way relate to the overall results of this year’s awards. The names and personal details of the pet owners who have made the nominations are deliberately not included here. Media who are interested in finding out more about a particular nomination/nominee should make contact with Progress Communications (tel 056-71895).

Last updated: 19 November 2002

Index to stories (stories themselves are available in full below):


Vet Nominated: John O’Mahony, Animal Care Hospital, 14 The Fingerpost, Douglas East, Cork
Tel 021-4893033

  • When Jessie became ill, I found out just how much I would come to rely on him for her mere survival…
  • I wanted her buried in my garden…watched from the house as he dug the grave himself and placed her in position… I can’t tell you how much this meant to me…
  • Because of the care he has given my two best friends…
  • We are very fortunate to have found Florrie and Florrie (the dog) was so fortunate to have found him…
  • She was attacked, unseen, in the garden…she has been a member of the family for 13 years and we did not want to lose her this way…
  • After her neutering operation, John snuggled her up with her fluffy teddy without a laugh or a questionning gesture…

Vet Nominated: Gilabbey Veterinary Clinic, 38 Gilabbey Street, Cork
Tel 021-4962799

  • The Adventure of Zak – “Recently my dog needed to have an operation.” Those eight little words go no way to explaining the sheer anxiety, hours of nail biting and overall panic that comes from the thought of losing a beloved pet…


Tanis Turley, Anicare Vet. Clinic 66 Malahide Rd, Clontarf, Dublin 3 (Also Botanic Road, Glasnevin)
Tel 01-8330744

  • My 9 year old son is autistic and his little Jack Russell terrier, Scooby Doo, is like his brother… They go everywhere together and are the best of friends…

Patrick Finnegan, Animal Clinic , 153 Walkinstown Road, Walkinstown, Dublin 12
Tel 01-4501305

  • The type of vet one only finds in story books…

John Bainbridge, Argyle & Bainbridge Veterinary, “Overton” Upr. Kilmacud Road, Dundrum, Dublin 14
Tel: 01 2987510

  • Post-partum septicaemia at 2 am., a dangerous enteritis at 1 am., an emergency caesarean section.. he always saved the day! Any time of day or night, any day of the year, always in good humour…
  • John did everything in his power to diagnose and treat the problem… He administered the medication to Fainne as she lay in my arms before the fire…

University Veterinary Hospital, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UCD, Belfield, Dublin 4.
Tel: 01-716-6000

  • His work with the seals is voluntary, often in adverse circumstances…
  • He finished the operation by candlelight…


Aidan Millar, Ark Veterinary Clinic, 46 St Mary’s Road, Galway.
Tel: 091-584185

  • In April, three hounds set upon her and left her for dead…
  • During the serious oil spillage… we managed to save approx. 130 swans from possible death…


Tom Brosnan, Ark Veterinary Clinic, New Road, Killarney, Co. Kerry.
Tel 064-36644

  • We went to the church while Tom was operating on her…

Gary Landers, Allcare Veterinary Centre, Park Road, Killarney, County Kerry
Tel: 064-37333

  • When I brought the children back in to see her…(they) had placed her on the coach with her head resting on her paws… the way she always slept… the children were happy to see that she was at peace…

Danny O’Sullivan, Allcare Veterinary Clinic, Park Road, Killarney, County Kerry
Tel: 064 37333

  • A vet who can make the ending of a life such a healing and tender moment has already won awards many times ove in my heart..


Finbarr Heslin, Beaufield Veterinary Centre, Dublin Rd, Celbridge, Co. Kildare.
Tel: 01-6270402

  • He assured me that being the type Matilda was, she would adjust perfectly to being a 3-legged cat..


The Team, Abbeyside Veterinary Hospital, Dublin Road, Kilkenny City, Co. Kilkenny
Tel 056-61721

  • Since first our beautiful little kitten strayed into our garden back in 1989, she has been a most important part of our lives…

Richard P. Brennan, Richard P. Brennan Veterinary, Dublin Road, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny.
Tel:056 24534

  • He has helped save a great number of dogs from being destroyed just by saying we can get this one back on their feet (dog warden)
  • He then smelled the stuff and immediately acted to save her..


John O’Dwyer, Connell and O’Dwyer Veterinary Clinic, 22 Henry Street, Limerick, Co. Limerick
Tel: 061-314203

  • After our dog, Susie, was run over, we thought she was so badly injured there was no hope for her…she had a collapsed vertebrae…

Hugh O’ Callaghan, O’Callaghan and Canty Veterinary Clinic, Cathedral Place, Limerick City
Tel: 061-412122

  • A nun from the Presentation Convent tells her story of Sparkle…
  • They were kind of wild… he had to get down on all fours to get under the bed to catch the cats one by one… it was a sight to behold, but he did it with a smile…


David & John MacGuinness, Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital, Avenue Road, Dundalk, Co. Louth
Tel: 042-9339648

  • The tale of Lord Henry… the cat


George Lepple, Veterinary Clinic, Castlebar Road, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo.
Tel: (092) 41980

  • He somehow got into a container of tablets in my bedroom…


Paul Kelly, Ratoath Veterinary Clinic, Ratoath, Co. Meath.
Tel: 01-8256213

  • The story of the hen who lays eggs again…


Gerrard & Lisa O’Gorman, O’Gorman Veterinary , McCurtain Street Clones, Co. Monaghan
Tel:047 51037

  • For their support and sympathy over a difficult 12 months for one horse owner


John Finnegan, Henry and Finnegan Animal Clinic, Main Street, Castlerea, Co. Roscommon
Tel 0907-21242

  • The Bernese Mountain Dog who swallowed a tea towel (Christmas Day was like Faulty Towers)
  • I asked for the bill and he wouldn take a single thing from me, he said I had been through enough..


Carolyn Bermingham, Brittas Veterinary Clinic, Templemore Rd, Thurles, Co. Tipperary.
Tel: 0504-24401

  • This little puppy became a precious friend… he brought love, happiness, comfort and joy to me and members of my family…


Triona Kinane, Midlands Veterinary Centre Bonavalley, Dublin Road, Athlone, Co. Westmeath.
Tel: 0902-74020

  • Casey the dog who that Annette’s speedy diagnosis of Puss’ condition and her excellent follow-up care has meant that it’s not all doom and gloom. There are days when Puss can chase a twirling leaf, climb a tree, pounce on a mouse or present us with a rabbit at the kitchen window. It is thanks to Annette that he has the joy of doing and we have the joy of watching…
  • No matter how trivial the problem, animals and pet owners love her…
  • The story of Einstein (the cat)


Enda Costigan, Blacklion Pet Hospital, Greystones, Co.Wicklow.
Tel: 01-2875283

  • It was soul destroying to watch such a clever and lively pup struggle to walk…
  • Such kindness and consideration was not shown to me when my parents died…

Gary Fortune, Harbour Veterinary Clinic,The Harbour, Greystones, Co. Wicklow
Tel: 01-2872099

  • He was contactable on Christmas Day… only for his professionalism and compassion for my dogs and their owners (us) we could have had a very dark Festive season.


Vet Nominated:John O’Mahony,
Animal Care Hospital,

14 The Fingerpost,
Douglas East,
Tel 021-4893033 Pet Owner From:Blackrock, Cork
Pet Info: Jessie, dog aged 5 Reason for nomination:
I would like to nominate my vet because I truly believe that my vet is the most deserving of the award. Previously, I had met my vet on routine check-ups, but when Jessie, my five year old West Highland Terrier became ill, I found out just how much I would come to rely on him for her mere survival. Jessie started to become ill on a Friday with loss of appetite, shaking, accidents (i.e. urinating) and turning more and more depressed-like. By Sunday I had to take her to the vet. I found John to be more then happy to see Jess even though it was a Sunday. At the start it was thought it was just an infection, but within a day or two she had deteriorated considerably. John took her in and she spent two days in hospital on a drip. Between John and the nurses she got the most wonderful care and attention with me being allowed to visit her. Looking much better, Jess was allowed home. But once again in a few days we were back to stage one. This continued in and out of hospital, getting better only to get sick again, for the next few weeks. Jessie couldn’t hold on for much longer – she was physically and mentally drained from the tests, a lesser vet would have given up but John went through text book after text book, consulted with the College of Veterinary Surgeons, ruling out illness after illness. John was terrific through all of this, keeping me updated with every test and result, explaining everything in detail. Finally he suspected she had “Addison’s Disease” so he performed the necessary tests, within days we had the results to confirm his suspicions. Jessie is now on steroids and doing great !! Being such a rare disease it would have been possible to misdiagnose and maybe even have had to put her down. Having gone through such serious illness with Jess, I got to know John on his staff on a personal level. I feel extreme gratitude for the Animal Care Hospital and its staff and I sincerely feel that they deserve this nomination to the highest degree. Words cannot express how thankful I am for saving Jessie’s life, without them she would not be sitting next to me now !

Pet Owner From: Ballintemple, Cork.
Pet Info: Dog – Elsa. Died on her 14th birthday, 6th September 2001. Reason for Nomination:
I would like to nominate my vet because of his kindness on the occasion of my dog’s death last year. Elsa had been John O’ Mahony’s patient since he took over the practice at the Fingerpost some years ago. In early September 2001, Elsa started vomiting. At first I wasn’t too worried, as she was subject to stomach upsets, but she got worse on the 5th of September and by evening she was obviously seriously ill. I brought her to the surgery the next day, knowing it was unlikely she would be coming home again. John carried out a blood test which confirmed kidney failure. He tried to break the news gently – it was obviously difficult for him – but fortunately I was able to assure him I knew the score. So Elsa was put to sleep. I was allowed stay and hold her head “so she could see me”. I wanted to have her buried in my garden, so I asked John how soon it would need to be done. He recommended it should be fairly soon as the weather was warm. He asked if I had made arrangements and when he found I hadn’t yet contacted anyone he offered to ask two veterinary students, who were on work experience with him, to do the needful. I was dumbfounded and so grateful. I could hardly believe that I was being relieved of the trauma of the “funeral arrangements”. John sent me home, keeping Elsa at the clinic for me. About an hour later he arrived himself, with one of the young men, and Elsa in the boot of the car. I watched from the house as John dug the grave himself and placed her in position. I can’t tell you how much this meant to me, and I still get comfort from the fact that my companion of fourteen years had been put to final bed by someone who had always taken a great interest in her and cared for her so kindly. It was an act of great kindness and a very good lesson too for the student. I could give other examples of John’s care and kindness, but I hope the above will impress you.

Pet Owner From:Douglas, Cork
Pet Info: Benny & Susie RIP – dogs – Bennie 14 ½ and Susie min 17 years, died 22/11/01 Reason for nomination:
Because of the care he has given my two best friends – Benny and Susie – over many years. Benny still attends John and is very healthy at 14 ½ years. Susie died peacefully in John’s surgery on November 22nd, 2001. John’s care of Susie over her final six months was unbelievable. He attended to Susie on Saturdays, Sundays, middle of the night, whenever it was needed. Susie was diabetic for the last few months of her life but due to John and his staffs’ care she was as happy and lively as a pup. John trained Tony (my husband) and myself on how to look after a diabetic dog. He let us come to his surgery for 2 weeks – every day (Saturday and Sunday included) until we were confident on injecting and checking levels ourselves. I cannot thank John enough, as Susie lived for 6 months longer than I ever thought she would. He never gave up and neither did Susie, until November 22nd. John’s qualities are many and varied and I could write a book on his treatment of my two dogs over the years, but I’ll conclude by saying he has a great gift with both animals and with owners. He is a much respected and loved vet here in Cork.

Pet Owner From:Bantry, Co. Cork.
Pet Info: Dog – Florrie. Aged 6 years (uncertain). Reason for Nomination:
My little dog Florrie came to me in unusual circumstances. He was run over in Cork city and brought to John’s clinic. Unfortunately, his owner was never found. Florrie had severe, life-threatening injuries which John attended to successfully. He was then left with a stray dog, with a badly fractured right hind thigh bone. Six weeks later, Florrie (unnamed at this stage) was still in John’s clinic, with pins and wires in his leg and a smile on his face! John brought him to visit me during his weekend off in West Cork and Florrie (now named) resides permanently in West Cork and has done so for the last 4 years. He still retains his cheeky face, one ear up, one down and deep brown eyes. I must confess that his girth has increased in those years – (a fact John doesn’t let me forget). But he is happy! We are very fortunate to have found Florrie and Florrie was so fortunate to have found John. To have taken in a stray dog and given him emergency treatment is nothing less than I would expect of John. However, to have given him a home for 6 weeks, carried out some major surgery on his leg (and even neutered him as well), and eventually found a home for him, was well beyond the call of duty and speaks volumes for his care and dedication to his patients. It is for this reason (and I am aware of others also!) that I wish to nominate John O’ Mahony and his practice for the Stronghold Pet Care Award. I think he deserves it.

Pet Owner From:Monkstown, Co. Cork.
Pet Info: Dog – Pepe. Aged 13 years. Reason for Nomination:
I would like to nominate my vet because of his dedication, consideration and kindness, not just with his patients but also their families. John has been Pepe’s vet since he took over the small practice in Douglas a number of years ago, a practice that has since been extended, modernised and recently achieved hospital status. Prior to last year any ailments Pepe had were relatively minor i.e. infections etc. However, on Sunday June 17th she was attacked, unseen, in our garden. When we found her by the side of the house we immediately rang John’s emergency number and he said he would see her straight away. It appeared her back was broken; she had puncture wounds on both sides. John believed that she had probably been picked up by a very large dog and shaken. Obviously we did not want to see her in pain but we also wanted to give her every chance possible, she has been a member of the family for thirteen years; we did not want to lose her this way. John kept her in his care for observation and further examination including examination by a neurosurgeon to determine the extent of her internal injuries. Fortunately her internal injuries did not appear too serious and we were told we could take her home but she had to be kept immobile, apart from exercises we had to do on her back legs for a number of weeks in order to give the break a chance to heal. John did tell us there was a possibility that she would not regain the use of her back legs or control of her bowels or kidneys, only time would tell. John kept in constant contact and saw Pepe regularly. We had booked a family holiday for July the previous year and were discussing cancelling it when John said not to, they would take her into their care while we were away and continue with the exercises. We were amazed at this act and very grateful, it had been quite a stressful time for us but particularly so for our ten year old daughter Aimee. We were on the phone constantly while we were away checking on Pepe’s progress and we were also very conscious that we may have to face a very difficult decision on our return. When we went to collect Pepe to bring her home we were terrified she would not have made any further progress. Believe me when I tell you there were tears in every ones eyes that day when she ran into the surgery to greet us, very clumsily I might add, she kept losing her legs behind her but she was up and mobile and in great form. It is now over twelve months on and Pepe is doing great, if she gets excited she sometimes forgets that she can’t just go racing up steps and suddenly finds herself suspended on one leg but other than that she is practically 100%. It is not possible to put into words how grateful we are to John and all the nursing staff who took such incredible care of Pepe during this time. We were never kept waiting when we had to visit. All the staff would give Pepe a rub and enquire as to how she was. They are just amazing, we cannot thank them enough.

Pet Owner From:Old Blackrock Rd, Co. Cork.
Pet Info: Dog – Jess. Aged 1 year and 1 month. Reason for Nomination:
To whom it may concern: I wish to nominate John O’ Mahony of the Animal Care Centre in Douglas East, Cork, for the Veterinary Pet Care Award 2002. My reasons for doing this are plentiful. I have a dog named ‘Jess’ who is the apple of my eye and that of my parents and sister. She is a patient of John’s and he has taken wonderful care of her since she became part of our family. After her neutering operation, John snuggled her up with her fluffy teddy without a laugh or a questioning gesture. Before Jess came into our lives, our love lay with Vicki and a part of each of us died with her passing. Although mine is a sad tale, it is about a wonderful tale! Vicki was a beautiful black Cocker Spaniel, with big emotional eyes and an ever wagging tail. She was considered as so much more than a pet, she was a true friend. Sadly, she became ill during the summer of 2001 and that began our regular visits to John. Vicki became very lethargic and went off her food. The ever popular trip to the strand brought no enthusiasm from her so it became clear that a visit to John was necessary. Something was very wrong! Blood tests were done, antibiotics given but sadly no improvement. I rang John early one morning for advice and he urged us to bring Vicki up to him for exploratory surgery. We loaded up and headed off, down the long road to our friends’ fate. Was this the last time we’d travel this road together? On arriving at the clinic, John led us straight into the surgery and gently explained what he wished to do which was to open Vicki up and have a look around. A deep foreboding struck deep in my stomach and I knew this could be my last time seeing her awake and smell her sweet, sticky breath. We went home, knowing the capable hands she was left in and that if there was a hope, John was it. Time dragged on until the inevitable happened and the phone rang. Slowly I went to answer it, dreading what I may hear. John calmly but firmly explained how Vicki’s liver was covered in tiny tumours which were too wide-spread for any chance of recovery. The options presented to us were, firstly, to allow Vicki wake up and live out her days which were surely numbered and possibly in considerable pain or not allow her to wake up which was the second option. I was crying so hard that John said to take some time and get back to him with our decision. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done but I had to spare our baby from any more pain and suffering. I asked if we could be with her which John had no problem with and once again we headed off to bid Vicki goodbye. John, again, led us straight to Vicki who lay on the table with her wound covered to spare us further distress. He gently told us his findings again and allowed us some time alone to say goodbye. As each of us held a paw, John injected our pet and she drifted off to sleep, never to wake again. Vicki was taken home and buried in our garden where she so loved to roam. The following day, John rang me to see how we were and if we had any more questions or queries. This was the ultimate kindness and one which stays etched in my mind ever since. I know my story hasn’t a happy ending but it shows the true kindness and caring that John epitomises. If I could nominate him for Sainthood for his manner in dealing with our Vicki and three very distraught people, he would deserve it as he truly deserves this award. Incidentally, the last photograph taken of Vicki was on the strand only a few days before she died and as I write this now I look at it and the tears begin to flow again.

Vet Nominated: Gilabbey Veterinary Clinic, 38 Gilabbey Street,
Co. Cork
Tel 021-4962799 Pet Owner From:Cloyne, Co. Cork
Pet Info: German Shepherd – Zak. Aged 8 years. Reason for Nomination:
I wrote this article for my local newspaper. I felt it was the highest accolade I could give to my vet. A Dog’s Life: Recently, my dog needed to have an operation. Those eight little words go no way to explaining the sheer anxiety, hours of nail-biting and overall panic that comes from the thought of losing a beloved pet. Zak, my German Shepherd, was diagnosed as having diseased bowel muscles and had to be taken up to the Gilabbey Veterinary Clinic in Cork. The ride up to the surgery was torment enough; neither of us humans in the car could bring ourselves to look in to those implicitly trusting, big brown eyes. Zak however, was an entirely different kettle of fish, leaping in to the car with his usual vitality, convinced we were just going for a W-A-L-K (as a dog owner, it is impossible to utter or even write that specific word without the hyphens or a cursory glance in all directions to ensure that our darling pooch is not within hearing distance). Perhaps canines, felines and the like have some particular sixth sense that we are not privy to for as we pulled up outside the Gilabbey Veterinary Clinic, a mistrustful look appeared in Zak’s eyes – ‘And what might this be then?’ After consecutively pleading (‘Come on sweetheart’), cajoling (‘I bet they have lots of biscuits’) and threatening (‘It’s for your own good you know’) – none of which worked, it was time for a canine tug-of war to remove his posterior from the back seat of the car. We (the humans) emerged victorious – and exhausted. As he was brought in to the waiting room, everything humanly (or caninely) possible was attempted on his part to prevent us getting any further in to the room – but by sheer dint of determination, we were in. As we took Zak into the examination room we were greeted by Tom Conway, one of the vets at Gilabbey, who couldn’t have been more patient and understanding. I think it would be fair to say that we were just as anxious as our dog and, with Zak casting suspicious looks in Mr. Conway’s direction and his owners not exactly giving the poor man an easy time of it either, it is a testament to the nature of all at Gilabbey that their priority is the well being of the animal concerned. Gilabbey truly come in to its own at this point. Shane Guerin, who would be performing the operation, gently explained exactly what needed to be done and what aftercare would be required – all in layman’s terms. There is nothing worse than being bamboozled with scientific jargon at this juncture. Both vets were incredibly kind to the two paranoid pet owners standing in front of them, reiterating information a second and third time just so that we would be completely comfortable entrusting our dog to their care. We needn’t have worried. Just for your information, at this stage, Zak was quizzically investigating the surgery for any hidden perils lurking in the corners. And then it was time for the injection. Having a pathological fear of needles myself, the prospect of watching a shot being performed was not particularly my cup of tea (or other hot beverage) but I persevered and stayed with Zak as he had his injection, Shane continuously talking to Zak to keep him calm. We bade farewell for now as we walked out of the surgery, the words ‘traitor’ and ‘abandoner’ flying through our heads, but the mantra ‘Its for his own good’ won through. Cue hours of nervous energy before a phone call to let us know that all was well and he was recovering nicely. Fast forward a few days and we had our dog back at home with us, with one minor adjustment: a snazzy, flexi-plastic white collar to prevent him from getting to his stitches – my dog now resembled a furry gramophone player. The journey home was not an enjoyable one as our musical-looking little friend could not turn left not right and just to make the point clear – those collars have the stopping power of concrete and can do serious damage to one’s kneecaps. One of the key things that cannot be emphasised enough is after-care and it is an essential part of maintaining the good work that has been done during the surgery. Gilabbey were always there at the end of the phone to answer questions or reassure us, offering sound advice and letting us know that they cared as much as we did, and do. When we took Zak back up to have his stitches taken out, it was like getting reacquainted with old friends as Zak quite happily ambled in to the examination room to greet Tom and stood as good as gold while his stitches were removed. And now, six weeks down the line we have a gregarious German Shepherd again, who looks no worse for his ordeal. Gilabbey do tremendous work in the area of animal care and their pride in the work is obvious. They have recently flown surgeons in from overseas when required to ensure that only the best care is provided. They are highly qualified, compassionate and competent. But more than all of these things put together – my dog trusts them and that is worth more than all the chewsticks in Christendom. To put it bluntly, as we left the examination room just prior to Zak’s operation, Shane Guerin told us he would treat Zak like he was his own. You can’t ask for more than that.


Vet Nominated: Tanis Turley Practise/Surgery: Anicare Vet. Clinic
Address of Practise/Surgery: 66 Malahide Rd,
Dublin 3.
Practise/Surgery Telephone: 01-8330744 Pet Owner From:Artane, Dublin 5.
Pet Info: Scooby Doo + Finch – dogs aged 1 and 2 1/2 Reason for Nomination:
My 9 year old son Kevin is autistic and his little Jack Russell terrier , Scooby Doo, is like his brother. They go every where together and are best friends. Two weeks ago Scooby Doo ate slug pellets and became very ill. We didn’t notice until we were going to bed late on Friday night. He was fitting badly and while talking to Tanis on the phone at 1am , I thought he had already died. We were distraught, not only because the dog was dying but also the effect this would have had on our son. Tanis got out of her bed and came to the surgery and took great care of Scooby. Over the weekend she took great care of Kevin , explaining everything carefully to him , letting him visit the dog and generally reassuring him. I must also explain that Kevin’s sister had died 18 months ago and in his mind she went into hospital and the Doctor couldn’t fix her so she died and he thought this would happen to him if he got sick. Tanis has helped him to realise that this is not the case. We attended an open day last Sunday at the clinic and it was wonderful. My son had a great day. Scooby Doo recovered fully and Tanis has been a great friend and vet for us. I can’t say enough good things about her.

Vet Nominated: Patrick Finnegan Animal Clinic 153 Walkinstown Road,
Walkinstown, Dublin 12
Tel 01-4501305 Pet Owner From:Enfield, Co. Meath
Pet Info: 3 Dogs and 2 cats – 6 years – Kuka, Finn, Donna (dogs) and Pepsi, Cola (cats) Reason for nomination:
Paddy Finnegan is the type of vet one only finds in story books. A kinder and most sympathetic and gentle person one could not hope to have to look after their pets. I have been attending Paddy for over 10 years and although I moved from Dublin to Meath, I would not change my vet. I often travel with 3 dogs and 2 cats up to Paddy and he always gives each animal wonderful attention (a round trip of 70 miles). When I brought my son’s hamster to Paddy and it had to be put asleep, I apologised to Paddy for crying over a hamster – he put his arms around me and said “all creatures great and small” what a wonderful Vet!

Vet Nominated: John Bainbridge Practise/Surgery: Argyle & Bainbridge Veterinary
Address of Practise/Surgery: “Overton”
Upr. Kilmacud road,
Dublin 14
Practise/Surgery Telephone: 01 2987510 Pet Owner From:Rathmines Road, Dublin 6
Pet Info: Name of pet(s): Mog, cat aged 9 Reason for Nomination:
John has been a marvellous vet since I have known him years back, as has his partner in practice, Malcolm Argyle. Those years ago, when I had a Chihuahua dog, Tiffany, John proved his dedication at looking after small and delicate animals. The number of times he had to attend that little dog in emergency situations is uncountable. Post-partum septicaemia at 2 am., a dangerous enteritis at 1 am., an emergency caesarean section.. he always saved the day! Any time of day or night, any day of the year, always in good humour. Always very professional and courteous, he has an equal understanding of both animal and owner, in good times and at the worst time. He works very long hours, and is never in a hurry. Years later I acquired a pussycat who just walked into the house and took over. She hurt her throat on something she picked up outside. It was a long time since I had to call a vet, but John came up trumps once again, late in the evening. Mog was delighted to be pain free and held her tail up when she saw him again next day. His reputation stretches far and wide around south Dublin, and I speak for many in wishing him the best of luck in this competition.

Pet Owner From;Booterstown, Co. Dublin
Pet Info: Ben, dog 4 years and Dog 16 1/2 years at death Reason for Nomination:
I would like to nominate my vet, Mr John Bainbridge of Argyle and Bainbridge for the Veterinary Pet Care Award 2002. I have known John for at least 25 years, visiting him with four different dogs over those years. John is a most patient and compassionate person – he showed this very clearly at the time of the illness and death of my beloved labrador in 1996. Fainne was 16 and a half years old when she died in January 1996, but she had been ill for some months previously. Four years previously, at the age of 12, she contracted cancer in her mammary glands and, at an age when many vets would have advised putting her to sleep, John did everything in his power to diagnose and treat the problem. He operated on her and she pulled through very well, going on to live another 4 and a half years ! Some months before her death, Fainne had a series of small strokes which left her a little bit disorientated. She was also practically blind due to cataracts. As she was a large dog, and to avoid as much discomfort to her as possible, I asked John if he could call to the house and he did this on many occasions during the winter of 1995. On one of these occasions, I asked him if she was in pain and would it be kinder to put her to sleep. He replied that I would know when the time was right. He was totally correct in this as one evening in January, I decided it was the right thing to do as I did not want to discover that she had died on her own during the night. I telephoned John and he arranged to call to the house a couple of evenings later. John administered the medication to Fainne as she lay in my arms before the fire. It was so peaceful and gentle and I will never forget his thoughtfulness and compassion. As soon as he had injected Fainne, he left us alone together. John arranged for her cremation and a couple of weeks later, called to the house one evening to bring her ashes. I found John’s compassion, professionalism, thoughtfulness and kindness so helpful during this time and over the past 25 plus years, and cannot thank him enough. I feel he is truly deserving of the Veterinary Pet Care Award 2002.

Vet Nominated: Patrick J. Pollock
University Veterinary Hospital,

Faculty of Veterinary Medicine,
Belfield, Dublin 4.
Tel: 01 7166001 Pet Owner From:Garritstown, Co. Dublin
Pet Info: Seals (harbour, grey and hooded) and assorted other wildlife, seal pups (newborns to 6 months) Reason for nomination:
Patrick, amidst advanced studies and research, found time throughout 2001 and 2002 to help out this charity (The Irish Seal Sanctuary). Following on the work of his predecessor Trephina Benn, Patrick made weekly calls to us, examining, treating and training us in new treatments for seals and liaising with our consultant vets – for 38 animals last year, including the first hooded seal (Renabbed) in Ireland. With ongoing support from Prof. Sheehan (UCD) and Michael Gunne (IVA) he has advanced Marine Mammal Veterinary Care and Research in Ireland. His work was all voluntary and unpaid and his many kindnesses and patience will be remembered by all our volunteers (who he helped immensely) working in very adverse circumstances. Wishing him every success in his future career and may we get another season out of him, if detained in Ireland. Further information on web site www.irishsealsanctuary.com

Vet Nominated:
All the students and vets past and present ( especially Mr Sharpe).
Practise/Surgery: University Veterinary College,

Address of Practise/Surgery: Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, UCD,
Dublin 4
Practise/Surgery Telephone: 01-7166001
Pet Owner From;Ballsbridge , Dublin 4
Pet Info: dogs Age of pet(s):14 years and 4 years Reason for Nomination:
This year the college moves to Belfield so it would be great for them to win at this time. Every vet who trained in ROI trained at the college so it is an award for every vet and future vet in the republic. If your own vet needs a second opinion your pet is sent to the college for advice. The college offers discounts to people who cannot afford to pay what they would be charged elsewhere. Mr Sharpe took two of my dogs home with him to have them neutered. That night there was a power cut – he finished the operations by candlelight and brought the dogs back to me as soon as they had woken up. I think that is one great vet!!! Go on – why give it to one vet when you can give it to every vet??????????????????


Vet Info:
Aidan Millar
Practise/Surgery: Ark Veterinary Clinic

Address of Practise/Surgery : 46 St Mary’s Road
Galway, Co. Galway.
Practise/Surgery Telephone:091-584185
Pet Owner From:Barna, Co. Galway.
Pet Info:Hamish, Fluff and Mimin – cats Age of pet(s):Hamish 4, Fluff 15, Mimi 5 Reason for Nomination:
Aidan Miller is gentle, kind, patient and loving towards all three of our cats, and he has cared for them for many years. However, this year, Aidan enabled a miracle to happen for our youngest cat Hamish.

Hamish is a little rescue cat, she nearly died as a kitten, and then was molested by the first people with whom she lived. So she is a nervous little cat, but absolutely beautiful, with long, soft, ginger hair and a pretty face.

However, in April three hounds set upon her and left her for dead – she was very badly injured and in profound shock by the time I got to her. I took her immediately to the Clinic, but it was 7 am and Aidan had not arrived. The person on duty thought Hamish should be put down on the spot, such were the extent of her injuries and trauma. However, we asked that they keep her alive until Aidan would come to the surgery at 9 am.

When he got there he immediately called us to talk to us – we were all the time fearing the worst, but if we had to hear it we wanted to hear it from Aidan. When Aidan called he explained the nature of Hamish’s injuries but said that he would like to keep her for a few hours in a tranquil state to see how she coped, and whether or not she could stay alive. It was a harrowing day. Aidan called back in the early afternoon to say that Hamish would make it and that he had begun treatment to stabilise her condition. We were overjoyed, and to this day, firmly believed that it is a miracle that our little cat survived. Hamish would not be alive today were it not for Aidan’s quiet and strong belief in the life-force of this little cat, and for his persistence with her in the face of what seemed like impossible odds (we had thought her spinal cord had been severed).

Fluff at fifteen years and Mimi at five could tell their own stories about Aidan, but for this year’s nomination, the miracle of Hamish’s healing is the story we wish to submit on behalf of a wonderful Vet, Aidan Miller.

Pet Owner From:Salthill, Galway
Pet Info:Swans and seals Reason for nomination:
We, the Claddagh and Galway Swan Rescue team, got to know Aidan Miller from the Arc Veterinary Clinic during and after the very serious oil spillage in the Claddagh Basin two years ago, approx. Due to his undying support and advice we managed to save approx. 130 swans from possible death.

He called to us and helped us, by giving us their after-hours phone contact number. Aidan has a genuine love of animals and showed great sympathy at the loss of a swan. Since then, we now have to call on him and his team maybe once or twice a week. We get the same top treatment i.e. immediately, so it enables us to return an ill swan to the water as soon as possible.

Recently, within the last six months, we had to call on him with injured seals and he has taught us how they should be handled and has “tubed” them for us. We hope you will consider Aidan very seriously, as he really is a genuine, caring and worthy person.


Vet Nominated:Tom Brosnan
Ark Veterinary Clinic

New Road, Killarney,
Co. Kerry
Tel 064-36644
Pet Owner From:Killarney, Co. Kerry
Pet Info: Jack, Jill & Bud Yorkshire terriers x 2 aged 8 years, Jack Russell cross aged 10-12 years Reason for nomination:
We have two Yorkshire Terriers named Jack and Jill. They are both pedigree dogs. We also have a Jack Russell pup called Bud, who found a home here on a cold January day. All efforts to find his home were fruitless, so now many months later he has settled in as one of the family – having his own armchair, bowl etc.

Jack is a standard size Yorkie and enjoys good health. He visits Tom for his booster shot; his annual check up; grooming and any problems that might arise in between.

Jill on the other hand is a miniature Yorkie; and on the day we set eyes on her (1993) she was just clinging to life. She was under two pounds weight. We had agreed to buy her from a breeder we contacted through an advertisement in a newspaper; but were shocked when we went to collect her.

She had little or no hair on her legs; her skin was covered in dandruff-life flakes, not to mention a good scattering of fleas, and her anus was almost blocked with dried up faeces. We realised very soon that she was suffering from canine influenza and we almost lost her to “the great kennel in the sky” several times.

We had no regular vet at that time, and we travelled near and far to veterinary surgeons who people would recommend in good faith, but Jill’s health still remained on a knife edge. She was always suffering some ailment; worst of all being an almost continuous stomach upset. We often walked the floor with her at night – wrapping her in her favourite jumper, rubbing her little stomach and trying to make her comfortable.

We were all too often told to give up on this little dog and put her out of her misery.

Then, we heard about Tom Brosnan. We went along again, as usual full of hope; but this time we were not to be disappointed. Jill had so many problems and was so weak. We were often at Tom’s surgery door in the mornings; having spent the night up and now exhausted, waiting for his surgery to open.

Tom was so patient. He always had a calming effect on us. I myself was often very emotional during a visit, afraid that Tom would say it was “D” day for Jill. We trust Tom’s judgement without question; and we know that he has all our pet’s best interest at heart.

When you are in Tom’s surgery with your pet, it is like you and your pet are the only ones he has to think about. To say he gives us all the time we need is an understatement. When I am worried I ask a lot of what probably are irrelevant questions; but Tom is always patient and takes the time to explain. When we talk with our friends about Tom, we all agree that it is such a pity he does not deal in human illness as well as canine. Of course his psychology skills are put to the test several times every day, dealing with us owners/ humans. If the animals could attend the surgery and explain for themselves, he job would be made much easier.

Anyway, when it seemed things were going well for Jill, she got mammary cancer in 1998. It was so traumatic. I just wanted to take her away and hide somewhere when I found the lump in her little stomach. Again Tom was there for us.

We went to the Church while Tom was operating on her and waited patiently to go and collect her. We did not know what to expect. Her maximum weight is just around four and a half pounds; so you can imagine how difficult it must be to work on a little dog that size. When we went to collect her, Tom was there with his calming words and cheerful smile. He explained about the cancer and advised us about the care for the following few days, while we waited for the Lab. Report.

When we received his call with the Lab. Report I know he was as happy as we were that all the cancer had been removed and that the outlook was good.

To bring my story up to date. Jill is enjoying good health and also enjoying life thanks to years of loving care from Tom. I hope he will always be there for all of us.

In summary if any of his patients needed him when he was sitting to his dinner on Christmas Day; we all know that he would leave his family and the comfort of his own home to be there for us – loyal to his chosen profession – above and beyond the call of duty.

Please feel free to visit us and our pets if you wish. It would be a privilege.

Vet Nominated:
Gary Landers
Practise/Surgery: Allcare Veterinary Centre

Address of Practise/Surgery: Park Road,
Killarney, County Kerry
Practise/Surgery Telephone: 064-37333
Pet Owner From:Ballycasheen, Killarney, County Kerry
Pet Info: Cat and Dog – Lucky & Rosie, one aged 4; other RIP Reason for Nomination:
On 15th April 2002, my husband took our dog Rosie to the vet. For the previous three weeks she had become less and less mobile and not inclined to move from her garden.

My husband took her as usual to the “AllCare Veterinary Centre” in Killarney. They had often treated her there before. She had a sensitive nose which became sore during the summer months. Soon after my husband left, he rang me to say we had a decision to make. The vet who examined Rosie was Gary, and he felt that she was extremely ill and in a lot of pain.

He offered us a choice – Rosie had been a stray into our house in Cork and had lived with us for seven years in different places and always fitted in. Our two children (Alice 6, and Michael 3)adored her as did we. She had a remarkable nature and loved people. We could not see her in pain.

I drove over to the centre with Alice and Michael, and was greeted warmly both by the receptionist and Gary. We were brought into the room where Rosie and my husband were. Gary gave us the time to be with her and to make our decision. I knew from past experience that if there was any chance of Rosie not having to be put to sleep, Gary would give it to her. We decide to have Rosie put to sleep for her sake.

Rosie knew we were upset and she was uneasy. Alice and Michael stroked her and we left the room. We sat in the car while my husband stayed with Rosie. Gary initially gave her a sedative because he did not want her to suffer any pain where he gave her the final injection. He explained to my husband what he was doing as he went along.

I returned to the room as he gave her her injection and asked him if I could bring the children back in to see her when she was dead. He said that this was fine and also asked if we wanted him to bury her or if we would do it ourselves.

When I brought the children back in to see her, Gary and my husband had placed her on the couch with her head resting on her paws – the way she always slept. The children were happy to see that she was at peace.

I am indebted to him for the way he let us lead the way in the whole experience. He allowed us the time we needed and also let us set the pace. His professionalism and kindness helped us at a very sad time. In particular, he allowed our children to say goodbye to their friend with dignity.

He thanked us for allowing him to put her to sleep. She had advanced arthritis in her front legs and her back legs would not hold her for long more. She also had widespread inflammation throughout her gums and nose. We never knew her exact age, but thought she was about 10. Gary told us she was 13 or 14 years old.

He is a remarkable vet and I would highly recommend him for this award.

Vet Nominated:
Danny O’Sullivan
Practise/Surgery: Allcare Veterinary Clinic

Address of Practise/Surgery: Park Road
County Kerry
Practise/Surgery Telephone: 064 37333
Pet Owner From:Keel, Near Castlemaine, Co. Kerry
Pet Info:Tibetan Terrier – ‘Riff Raff’. Now deceased. Reason for Nomination:
I would like to nominate my vet because:

It’s not only when an animal is nursed tenderly back to health that a vet’s real care and compassion are shown – but also when an animal is dying and there is no alternative but to end it’s life and suffering.

My beloved ‘Riff Raff’ (a bunchy, bouncy Tibetan Terrier), died 5 years ago on a beautiful September morning aided by the loving, expert and gentle hands of my vet, Danny O’ Sullivan. Riff had cancer and despite all Danny’s heroic attempts to stem the flow of this ever-invading disease, the time came when I had to face up to the devastating news that I had to let him go.

Danny told me gently with tears threatening to well up in his own eyes as he explained the process involved. He asked me if I wanted to bring Riff to the surgery but I preferred to let Riff die at home – surrounded by everything and everyone he knew.

I had one last weekend with him when I carried him to the beach (as he could no longer walk) and let him sniff the air of a place he so loved.

And then, on September 1st, Danny arrived to help end the suffering of this dear, sweet dog. I held Riff gently as Danny administered an injection, which finally ended my brave boy’s pain forever. Riff died quietly, peacefully and quickly in his own garden, surrounded by love, compassion and the gentlest of hands.

A vet who can make the ending of a life such a healing and tender moment has already won awards many times over in my heart. However, is would be a joy for me to see this kind, professional and deeply compassionate man achieve public recognition and the applause he so wholeheartedly deserves.


Vet Nominated:Finbarr Heslin,
Beaufield Veterinary Centre,

Dublin Rd,
Co. Kildare.
Tel: 01-6270402
Pet Owner From:Lucan, Co. Dublin.
Pet Info:Cat – Matilda. Aged 4 years. Reason for Nomination:
I would like to nominate my vet because he treats both animal and owner with such great care and is always cheerful and optimistic.

I got two six week old kittens from the Cat Protection Agency in 1998. My daughter (then aged 5) named them Mitsy and Matilda. These two have taken over our home and are totally spoilt. Since I only recently moved to the area I didn’t know of any vets and somebody recommended Finbarr Heslin in the Beaufield Veterinary Clinic so I brought my cats there to be vaccinated.

One night in January 2000, Matilda didn’t come home which was very strange as they are very much house cats. We went all over the neighbourhood looking for her but no sign. Eventually at about midnight she crawled home. She was in a very bad way.

Even though it was very late, I needed to get her to a vet. I phoned Beaufield Clinic and the answer phone gave me a mobile number for the vet on duty. Finbarr answered the phone and immediately arranged to meet me at the surgery. When he saw Matilda he knew she has been in a fight and that she was very shocked and he would keep her in overnight for observation.

I felt a bit silly having brought Finbarr out at this late hour just for a cat who had been in a fight, but he was so understanding and insistent that it was always better to be safe than sorry. The following day she was fit to go home. I thought I would have a huge bill for calling out a vet at midnight but to my surprise the bill was very little. This was the first time that I saw that the staff at Beaufield Centre really do care about the animals.

And now more trauma for Matilda. On 12th April this year when I came home from work, there was no sign of Matilda. This was very strange as Matilda is always there waiting for her food. I had to go out later that evening and arrived home at about 11.30 p.m. and still no sign of Matilda. Her sister Mitsy was very out of sorts as they were always together. We sent Mitsy out to look for her but no sign. All that night I called her name hoping that she would come back. I knew she wasn’t far away. The following morning myself and my daughter went out in the car looking for her. I really thought I’d find her at the side of the road, but no sign of her.

I called into my neighbour to see if she had seen Matilda over the past 24 hours. While I was in her house she said she would check her garage as Matilda would sometimes wander in there. We went out to the garden and calling Matilda’s name I heard the faintest meow coming from the end of the garden. Matilda was hiding under the bushes and she wasn’t moving. She was still alive but in a very shocked state.

When we got her out I thought somebody had drugged her as her front paw looked for all the world as if it had been shaved and she was very dopey. I bundled her into the car and brought her to Beaufield Centre. Finbarr had a look at her and told me that she had been hit by a car and she had a badly fractured paw, but he was more concerned at the moment as she had a punctured lung and she was in shock. He said he would have to keep her in for a few days.

He told me that he could do nothing with her paw until her lung was better. He said they would give her painkillers as she was in a lot of pain He told me to phone or call in as often as I wanted. (In hind sight I don’t think he knew how much I would pester him).

Any time I called or phoned I was kept informed of how Matilda was doing, not just her medical condition but also her mood. This surprised me as up to now I had not encountered this approach. It definitely put my mind at ease. The following Tuesday Finbarr told me that the x-rays showed that Matilda’s front paw was fractured in lots of places and would be very difficult to fix so I had two options.

The first was the paw could be amputated. I didn’t really think this was an option as I couldn’t think of a cat with three paws. The second option was I could bring Matilda into the Veterinary College in Ballsbridge and let an orthopaedic surgeon look at the x-rays and perhaps set the paw. He warned me that this might be very expensive, and it would be a separate bill from his. But I went for this as I thought Matilda deserved a chance.

Finbarr set up an appointment for the following day and I brought Matilda in to see the surgeon. After looking at the x-rays she told me that she would set Matilda’s paw by putting a plate into it and some pins. Matilda would be in for two days and when she came home she would need to be kept very quiet and stay in a cage for about 8 weeks so that the paw could set. I didn’t like the thought of Matilda having to stay locked up for 8 weeks but if it was her only chance then I would have to do it.

Two days later and Matilda was home. She still wasn’t in the best of form as she was off her food and still on painkillers. Over the next few days I didn’t like Matilda’s progress so I phoned the Veterinary College and they told me either to bring her into them or if more convenient to bring her to Beaufield Centre. The vet on duty, Charlotte, didn’t like the look of Matilda so she took off the bandage and told me that the blood wasn’t flowing properly so she would have to keep Matilda in once again.

Later that evening Finbarr phoned me and told me that Matilda’s paw was not in a good way and that they had to remove the dressing every two hours and bathe the paw in hot water and massage it to try and encourage the blood flow. This was done for the following two days, every two hours. Finbarr even went so far as to bring Matilda home with him so during the night she could get this treatment.

The following Friday Finbarr told me the bad news. He said that they had tried everything to save the paw and that Matilda was now getting really fed up with all the intervention and it was not good for her state of mind. He told me that he would recommend amputation. I was very much against this but he assured me that being the type Matilda was she would adjust perfectly to being a three-legged cat. It was now two weeks since Matilda had had the accident and she was just fed up.

Finbarr even got one of the nurses who has a three-legged cat to speak to me and persuade me that Matilda would once again be a happy cat. I knew I had done all I could for her so I agreed to go ahead with the amputation. Finbarr told me to bring Matilda home for the weekend and spoil her and bring her back Monday morning for the operation.

But when Matilda got home she just wasn’t the same cat. My heart went out to her as I knew she was in pain and had no will to go on. At this stage she had lost so much weight and didn’t even want to eat. This is such a change from the cat we called “chunky bum”. Even her sister Mitsy didn’t go near her. We think it was because Matilda had a bandage on her paw and Mitsy could smell the vets from her.

The following morning after a night of just looking helplessly at Matilda I decided that she had gone through so much pain and didn’t need to go through any more so I put her into the car and brought her to Beaufield Centre with the intention of getting her put to sleep.

Before I did this I took lots of photos of her on the bed as I thought these would be the last photos of her. When I went in and explained to Charlotte that I had to say goodbye to Matilda she said she understood my feelings and that yes Matilda had gone through an awful lot but she would advise me to go ahead with the plan for the amputation. She left me alone with Matilda for a few minutes and when she came back she told me she had spoken to Finbarr and he too agreed with her that Matilda should stay there over the weekend and have the operation on Monday morning. She said that it was perhaps too much for Matilda to go home at this time and not to be able to do her usual things.

Charlotte convinced me to leave Matilda there and told me she would not be left on her own over the weekend and that they would give her painkillers through a drip which was better for her. She also told me to phone whenever I wanted.

On the Monday morning Finbarr phoned me to tell me that he was going to operate and that he would phone me when it was over. A few hours later he phoned me to say that Matilda had recovered from the operation and that it all went very successfully. He told me that she would be very heavily sedated for the next 12 hours or so and not to come in to visit her tonight but to come in the following day.

The following day when my daughter and I went in Finbarr spoke to us first and warned us what she would look like and impressed on us that it was so important that we have a positive attitude towards Matilda or else she would sense it. This again struck me that at Beaufield they realise that animals do have feelings and are not just dumb.

When we saw Matilda she looked so much happier. The pain seemed to have gone from her face. Finbarr told us she could go home the following day. When we collected her we were told that she would have to go back every day for a dressing change. When Matilda came home she was so much happier. She started to eat and play again. Her sister Mitsy was delighted to see her home.

Matilda got a slight infection so for the next few weeks she had to go back to Beaufield to get an injection and the bandage changed. Matilda didn’t seem to mind this at all.

When the bandage eventually came off she looked strange as the hair had been shaved. The day the last bandage came off I asked Finbarr for the bill. As you can imagine I was dreading this. His answer to me was to bring Matilda home and spoil her rotten and not to worry about the bill. He said that was not the concern at the moment. The priority was to get Matilda back to full health again. The bill eventually arrived a few months later and it was a lot less than I expected.

Matilda is now a happy, healthy three legged cat who can climb walls and fences and do the same as her four legged sister. Her fur has grown back and she is just as pretty as ever.
Only for the fab staff in the Beaufield Veterinary Centre I would now be without Matilda and life just wouldn’t be the same.
(Photo enclosed)


Vet Nominated:The Team
Abbeyside Veterinary Hospital

Dublin Road, Kilkenny City,
Co. Kilkenny
Tel 056-61721
E mail abbeyvet@eircom.net
Pet Owner From:Dukesmeadows, Kilkenny City
Pet Info: Cleopatra, beautiful blade cat aged 14 years Reason for nomination:
Since first our beautiful little kitten strayed into our garden back in 1989, she has been a most important part of our lives. My 13 year old son at the time romantically named her Cleopatra because of her beautiful blade shiny coat.

For the past 14 years she has provided us with constant love, affection and loyalty and has put her utter trust in us. In turn, we have put our trust in Abbeyside, who have brought Cleopatra back from near death on a number of occasions.

Above all, they respected us, they respected Cleopatra and they always understood our need to have her restored to health. This they have always done in a caring, professional and personal way.

They have truly earned the Veterinary Pet Care Award.

Vet Nominated: Richard P. Brennan
Practise/Surgery: Richard P. Brennan Veterinary,

Address of Practise/Surgery: Dublin Road
Co. Kilkenny.
Practise/Surgery Telephone:056 24534
Pet Owner From:Thomastown Co. Kilkenny.
Pet Info: Hope, dog aged 7-8 years Reason for Nomination:
I am the dog warden for Kilkenny county Richie is our main vet we use, over the 2yrs I have been there he has helped save a great number of dogs from being destroyed just by saying we can get this one back on their feet and try to find him/her a good home.

He does not always charge us for the work he does and is always available 24hrs a day he is loved by all animal owners in and around Thomastown.
Back in December I picked up a Lurcher in the city that had been dumped. It was one of the worse cases of cruelty I had seen, she had been starved almost to death and could not stand almost, yet could not lie down either because of the sores she had from having only her bones to lie on and no fur hair to protect her.

I phoned Richie and he met me at the pound. I was in bits over her, he took her into my office. I was sure she would have to be put down but after 10 mins or so he looked at me and said could you look after her in your office only it could take up to 6 weeks or more to get her on her feet and she would need a lot of tlc and very soft bedding. I could of shouted with joy – most vets would not of looked twice at her.

Well we called her Hope and after weeks of injections and being feed a little at a time till she didn’t gulp it down anymore and keeping her warm. Richie spayed her at a cost of 30 Euros we had raised, she then was advertised on the Internet and has now been rehomed in England by the Blue Cross.
This is just one of the many great reasons why Richie Brennan is our No.1 vet.

Pet Owner From:Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny
Pet Info: Yorkshire Terrier – Pippa. Aged 6: D.O.B. – 9/11/1996. Reason for Nomination:
I would like to nominate my vet because in my opinion, no one could do as much to save a pet’s life like Richie. In 1997 my puppy was scratching quite a bit, “a friend”! told me to rub ‘Benzil Benzoait’ into her. This I foolishly did with horrendous results. By 11 am the following day my poor little puppy could not stand.

I immediately contacted Richie and took her to his surgery. He did every test that could be done (This was without me telling him of what I rubbed on and had it washed off). He then smelled the stuff and immediately acted to save her.

He told me she was dangerously ill and may not survive, but he would do all in his power to save her. He kept her all day in Fiona’s office and at night took her home. He allowed us to call his home every hour for 5 days. On the Tuesday morning the news was good. The puppy had eaten from one of Richie’s children’s hand and was standing on her own. “We are talking of a puppy 5 lbs. weight”.

She had been banging her head off the ground and would actually attack you if you went anywhere near her. Richie said the stuff (B.B.) had gone into her blood stream and there was no anti-dote. But with the love and care that (Our God) gave to Pippa, she came home to us on the 6th day and is now a very happy and loving little dog.

I am not alone in my gratitude to Richie, we can never thank him enough and we nominate him for this Veterinary Pet Care Award 2002 with all our best wishes and best of luck Richie.


Vet Nominated: Mr. John O’ Dwyer Veterinary Surgeon,
Connell and O’ Dwyer Veterinary Clinic,
22 Henry Street
Co. Limerick
Tel: 061-314203
Pet Owner From: Ballyvalley, Killaloe, Co. Clare
Pet Info:Border Collie/Cross – Susie. Aged 1 ½ years. Reason for Nomination:
After our dog Susie was run over we thought that she was so badly injured there was no hope for her.

John O’ Dwyer x-rayed her and confirmed she had a collapsed vertebrae but advised us to have a box made to stop movement.

He gave us week by week instructions and from being totally paralysed in the hind quarters on the 11th May, she now has recovered and we are awaiting her feeling to return in her back knuckles. He advised on lifting her, helping to relieve herself etc.

John has been exceptional and compassionate when talking with my children. He has encouraged us to keep going and the care Susie has been given has been second to none. John never makes you feel stupid for asking silly questions and has been the best vet I have ever dealt with!

Vet Nominated: Hugh O’ Callaghan
O’ Callaghan and Canty Veterinary Clinic,

Address of Practise/Surgery: Cathedral Place,
Limerick City,
Co. Limerick.
Pet Owner From:Roxboro Road, Limerick
Pet Info: Sparkle, wheaten Cairn terrier dog aged 13 years
Reason for nomination:
My reason for nominating Hugh O’Callaghan for the national Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Award:

A thoroughbred wheaten terrier whom I christened Sparkle made his home with us here in Presentation Convent, Roxboro Road in 1985. He was bred in a Convent of Mercy, “Cloon” (?) as the Sisters there possessed a pedigree male and female wheaten terrier for breeding purposes.
We acquired Sparkle through a relationship with the sisters there. Shortly afterwards, the female was stolen by a group of Travellers, bringing the Sisters’ project to a close.

From the start, Sparkle settled down and was a most welcome addition to the Community. He had a cosy padded basket in the Staff Room where he slept comfortably each night. He first came in contact with Hugh O’Callaghan when I brought him for his injections. Sparkle was very nervous and trembled in my arms while awaiting his appointment.

But Hugh was most understanding and treated him with great gentleness and kindness. No matter what ailment, no matter how trivial, Sparkle contract, Hugh was always there ready to help and relieve his pain and suffering in a most compassionate way.

At one time Sparkle required surgery for a kidney complaint and Hugh was most understanding, allowing me to feed Sparkle the right kind of food he liked and to remain with him, giving him our assurance that he would soon be returning to us.

With the passage of time, Sparkle developed a heart condition and Hugh was again on hand to diagnose his complaint and prescribe Lanoxin tablets to help him.

At the end of 13 years, Sparkle showed signs of serious illness. Hugh came and took him to the clinic, assuring me that he would return him in a few days. Sad to say, the following morning he telephoned that Sparkle had died during the night, and very sensitively and understandingly spoke words of comfort and consolation. As his last act of kindness Hugh very graciously offered to bury Sparkle and so relieve me the heartbreak of doing so myself.

This is only one person’s experience of Hugh’s kindness and consideration to all the small animal lovers who depend on Hugh’s skill and gentle sensitivity.

My experience of Hugh’s attention and care of Sparkle can be multiplied a thousand fold by animal lovers in Limerick and further afield and our efforts to acknowledge Hugh’s devotion and service, reflect our appreciation of his goodness.

My gratitude for his attention to Sparkle is ongoing and my regret is that my ability to express my gratitude and appreciation in a fitting way is so feeble.

Photograph enclosed of Sparkle, taken with the community, in 1996.

Pet Owner From: Ennis Road, Co. Limerick
Pet Info: Cat (Blackie – Heinz variety) – Sapphire & Doberman / Great Dame mix – Andy Pandy. Aged 22 and 7. Reason for Nomination:
I would like to nominate my vet because Hugh O’ Callaghan is only the best – and here is why – :
1. Last year I wrote of Hugh’s kindness to my cat Sapphire. Well this year – she was like a kitten until last month when she had to be put to sleep. I would like to go the way that she did.
2. Blackie, my dog had to get shots – he does not like strangers, but when Hugh called – he was done in a minute, without him knowing it.
3. During the time he was with Blackie, he also called to Nash’s to give their cats their shots etc – these are kind of wild – well he had to go down on all fours to get under the bed to catch the cats, one-by-one – It was a sight to behold – but he did it with a smile ?.

My friend Pat O’ Callaghan who lives in Shannon has a dog called Andy Pandy – He is a Doberman / Dame mix – as you can imagine a rather large dog.

Well Hugh has been treating Pandy for years and so, like my cat Sapphire, his time had come to go to those kennels in the sky. Patricia was broken hearted. Hugh being the nice person he is – sent her a card. This card was most unusual in that it had beautiful tracings of a cat and dog etc. He also sent a very nice message to herself and her husband.

Around the same time he called to another neighbour and did the needful for her two dogs. Hugh did not have to do that – but it is in the nature of the man – very caring.

Hugh is a Vet in a million, and I hope he is successful.


Vet Nominated: David & John MacGuinness
Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital
Address of Practise/Surgery: Avenue Road,
Co. Louth.

Tel: 042-9339648
Pet Owner From:Dundalk, Co. Louth.
Pet Info: 1 dog, 4 cats: “Suzi” (dog), Beanie & Barnie (cats) Boots (cat) Jamie (cat). Age of pet(s):Suzi 7, Cats: “Boots” is 24 years, “Jamie” is 5 years, and “Beanie & Barnie” are 2 years. Reason for Nomination:
They give ALL our animals (pets as listed and the bigger animals on our Dairy farm, cows, calves and cattle) MUCH more tender attention than we as humans receive from (a) our doctors (in general) and (b) our health care profession in this country. That we convinced about at this stage.

The main reason though why we wish to nominate BOTH David & John MacGuinness from the Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital is because of their immediate response, knowledge displayed, accuracy of diagnosis (sadly) and above all their tender caring way of treating our much loved cat of 10 years of age “LORD HENRY” over the past three weeks.

“Lord Henry” died last week and we are broken hearted this past week (every single one in our family that is, 7 of us) We loved that cat just like our other pets and as much as life.

“Lord Henry” came into our lives as a baby kitten on 21st November, 1991 (the day almost twelve years ago that fire almost destroyed Slane Castle, in Co. Meath). This beautiful kitten was black and white and simply looked like a LORD. We quickly christened him “Lord Henry” and from that day onwards that little kitten responded for nothing other than his title of “Lord Henry”. He most certainly did NOT come for “ordinary cat calls” he ignored anybody stupid enough to treat him like a cat. “Lord Henry” grew into a beautiful cat, sheek, shiny and adored lying in his big arm chair in the house. He also liked his Bean-bag and basket in the kitchen for Winter times. Yes! Henry certainly lived up to his name as a Lord.

Anyhow! about eight months ago, “Lord Henry” had a sore front paw, it got worse, he attended The Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital where both David and John MacGuinness treated it and at individual times felt that his toe might have to come off it the situation did not improve. We were in bits to hear this about our Lord Henry as he loved climbing trees and we thought this meant his outdoor career would be somewhat curtailed. However! John MacGuinness soon explained to us in great detail that even if his toe came off he would be perfectly fine.

We were delighted though that initially it appeared as though Lord Henry’s toe did NOT have to be removed. Funny thing was though that both vets were correct and the sore paw returned after about two months and Lord Henry went back to be told that yes his toe should come off as this was the best way to go.

ALL the staff at the Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital were so kind and gentle and they all remembered “Lord Henry” the minute he would arrive at the hospital. They appeared to have a special welcome for him.

The day came and Lord Henry was admitted to hospital for his operation to have his toe removed. I had nobody to hold and cuddle Lord Henry in the car as he went into hospital for his operation, so I asked a friend to drive me. I have to add, this friend would not have a particular love for cats and could not grasp why we would not just put the cat in a cage and take him in. So when we arrived at hospital, my friend accompanied me to the clinic to SEE this spectacular scene that we had spoke about, how the staff there talked to Lord Henry, how the nurse got out “Lord Henry’s” file, my friend thought I was off my rocker.

BUT! she witnessed this for herself and thought it was an experience of a lifetime. She was highly impressed and immediately understood WHY we would go nowhere else and why we felt animals were luckier than humans to have David and John MacGuinness and their Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital, rather than the medical system we know as humans.
Back to more important matters…. Lord Henry had his operation and one would hardly know his toe was removed. He was perfect in no time. He was allowed home from hospital the same evening, with a list of instructions and David MacGuinness called to see he was okay that night on his way home from work.

Lord Henry made a great recovery from his toe and got on with his stately way of life….living it up in the best chair in the house, the nearest bed he could land in and climbing the highest tree to inspect his estate (that is how it appeared).

Sadly though, three weeks ago, Lord Henry just was not his normal healthy run around self, nothing you could really put a finger on, you would just say he had a cold or did not appear to well. We immediately took him to The Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital. Where John MacGuinness was the vet on duty. The funny thing is the minute we made his appointment the receptionist said “I remember the Lord, is he not well” and when we went in Tara the nurse had a great warm welcome for Lord Henry.

BUT! the minute John looked at him, he said girls we could have trouble here, I never was happy about his paw and his toe and now this, I will give him a long acting antibiotic but I want to do some blood tests and he told us why he was doing them. We did not want to believe there could be anything seriously wrong with our Lord Henry.

Looking back on the visit, John explained everything in such detail and so simply that we just knew as we left the hospital that evening with Lord Henry that things were never going to be the same again for our pet. Home we went and Suzi our dog lay beside Lord Henry that night and licked him, his little friend’s our other cats, truly all stayed beside him and seldom left his side. We were delighted that about two days later Henry was a lot brighter. He was even up eating the tinned Salmon we had treated him to in the hope that he would eat and he just licked his lips. We were delighted, we even thought that for a change (and a pleasant one) that the vet was wrong and that there was nothing seriously wrong with Lord Henry.

A days passed and we got the results of the blood tests from the Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital, they were not good …. showed Lord Henry had Leukaemia. We were told the worst but forced ourselves to think it could be different. How wrong we were!

Within one week of the long Lord Henry was worse than ever. We went back to the Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital and this time we got David MacGuinness who was on duty. He looked at us and must have felt almost as sad as we did, he said he was not good, he gave him more medication and was so kind to both Lord Henry and us, but told us he would get no better and in fact that he would probably get worse very quickly. Sadly this is exactly what happened.

Last week, exactly twenty hours later we had to take Lord Henry in wrapped in a blanket, we knew he was both in pain at this stage and dying. We were in tears and when we arrived at the Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital it was evening surgery time and the place was absolutely crazy busy.

We knew that if we had to wait in the queue that poor Henry would be in more pain. We did not even have to worry about that end of it though, David MacGuinness was out the back end of the surgery attending to a horse and saw us arrive. He must have seen the look on our faces, he came over to the car and just took one look and said come on girls, sadly he had to put our precious Lord Henry to sleep.

David allowed us stay with Lord Henry as he was prepared, he allowed us hold him and allowed us time with him afterwards. He refused to take one cent from us for this call. He talked to us, despite the fact that he had a surgery full of other animals and said how sorry he was and one knew he meant it from his heart.
Tara the nurse was so sorry and made sure we were as okay as we could be before we left in tears. Our only consolation was that Henry was out of pain and that the vet had been so good and so sincere. We will never forget him for it.

We are even in tears as we write this, but none the less it is worth it to nominate both David and John MacGuinness of the Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital for this award for their kindness, sincerity, professionalism and most of all care and love of ALL kinds of animals and pets alike. Keep up the good work at the Avenue Road Veterinary Hospital. Oh! how lucky Dundalk and Co. Louth is to have both David and John MacGuinness.


Vet Nominated: Dr. George Lepple
Practise/Surgery: Veterinary Clinic
Castlebar Road,
Co. Mayo.
Telephone: (092) 41980
Pet Owner From:Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo
Pet Info:Ross and Sandra Ross is a Cavalier King Charles, Sandra is a fox/Pomeranian cross. Age of pet(s):Ross is 9 years old, Sandra is 7 Reason for Nomination:
George Lepple is an extraordinary gentleman and only for him I would not have my Ross.

Nine years ago, when Ross was about 7 months old, he somehow got into a container of tablets in my bedroom and I found him stretched out on the bed barely conscious. This was probably about 11:00 at night. We called George and he agreed to meet us at his office where he gave Ross an injection to make him vomit.

George sent me home because I was very upset and he stayed up all night with Ross and rang me at 6:30 in the morning to say that Ross would live. He got Ross’ kidneys and liver going but there was a little damage to his pancreas and he is on insulin every day.

This was a very cold night, with black ice on the roads. George didn’t even know us yet, and he’d already been out doing a section on a cow who had twins. He was cold and he must have been tired, yet he stayed up all night to save our little Ross.

Ross has had other problems over the years – he had a tumour in his throat, and one time he got poison in the road. Both times George treated him right away and again saved his life.

Sandra, my little fox-Pomeranian cross, came to me from George’s wife, Annette, who knew her from the refuge in Mayo and asked me to foster her. She and Ross are great friends now.

Last year I myself had a very bad fall, from the attic onto cement below. My foot was shattered, my spine and my elbow were injured. I was in a cast for about 8 months and on crutches for a year. George has been coming to our house to give the dogs their boosters and clean their teeth, cut their nails, etc. This is a very great help to me because my husband is at work every day and I would have a lot of trouble arranging to get the dogs to George’s surgery.

Again, only for George I wouldn’t have either one of my dogs, and they are such great companions for me, especially for the long time that I was so laid up after my fall. I truly believe – I know – that George is one vet in a million and to us he is The Vet of Every Year.


Vet Nominated:
Paul Kelly,
Ratoath Veterinary Clinic,
Co. Meath.
Tel: 01-8256213
Pet Owner From: Moortown, Ratoath, Co. Meath.
Pet Info:Dogs – Kenny and Amy. Aged 3 and 3 and a half. Reason for Nomination:
I would like to recommend Paul Kelly of Ratoath Veterinary Clinic, Ratoath, Co. Meath, as Vet of the Year, as he is such a kind and caring vet.

All my neighbours and friends who attend the Ratoath Veterinary Clinic have the highest praise for Paul’s kind nature when it comes to caring for pets. Most of them, including myself, before going along to Ratoath Veterinary Clinic, will telephone first to see if Paul is on duty and, if he isn’t, will leave our visit till another day!!!

Let me relate a few examples of his kindness:

A couple of years ago a woman called Caroline (who now lives near me) decided to move, with her husband and three children, from a very rough part of Dublin. She was particularly concerned about her two boys (aged 9 and 7 years at the time) as they were beginning to hang around with the “wrong crowd”. Caroline and her husband bought a mobile home and moved into a field beside her husband’s aunt’s house.

As there were plenty of old sheds and stables belonging to Caroline’s aunt-in-law and in an effort to get her sons interested in country life, Caroline bought a few ducks, hens and geese. It wasn’t too long before the family settled down and the hens and ducks started laying.

One day a huge dog came in to their yard and started attacking the hens – the result was that one hen was left with her egg-sack hanging out of her backside and also part of her stomach! Caroline and the boys were distressed to see the poor hen trying to walk around in that condition so she packed up the hen and headed off, with her son Wayne, to a nearby vet.

When they presented themselves at the veterinary practice they were told that there was nothing the vet could do!

Caroline and son were very disappointed BUT as they had the hen in the car they decided to try Paul Kelly in Ratoath. What a contrast! Caroline told me that Paul was full of concern for the injured hen and took her and Wayne into his surgery and examined the hen in great detail. Paul said he would do his very best for the hen in the line of repairing her egg-sack but pointed out that the trauma of the attack alone might be enough to kill her. After stitching the egg sack etc. he said he would keep the hen in overnight.

Early next morning Paul was on the phone to Caroline to say that he was delighted to report that the hen had survived the night. He went on to say that he would monitor her carefully and keep in touch. After keeping the hen in for three days and three nights, he phoned Caroline to say he was happy with the hen’s progress and they could call and collect her. When Caroline and Wayne called to the surgery and enquired how much they owed, Paul’s reply was “No charge”.

By the way, the hen started laying again after a couple of months!!

Another neighbour, Anna, reluctantly decided that her very old dog, a “stray” who she had taken in 14 years previously, had reached the end of his life. She knew for a long time that his “time was up” as he had become incontinent, had gone blind and was walking into walls and hurting himself.

The sad day came and Anna and her husband, with great difficulty, as the dog was very heavy, managed to get him into their car to bring him to the vet. When they met Paul at the surgery they explained what they were about and asked if it was okay to bring in their dog. Paul, who knew the dog, said he would go out to the car and have a look at him. When Paul saw the dog relaxed and resting in the back of the car he thought it would be a pity to disturb him and gave the dog his final injection in the car. I thought that was a real act of kindness to an old dog.

Regarding a couple of my own experiences with Paul:

Our golden cocker spaniel, Kenny, (so named because we bought him in Kilkenny!) was attacked by an Alsatian but appeared to be okay. After about two weeks a lump started to appear on his side and after a few more days it was the size of a tennis ball.

My husband brought Kenny over to Ratoath and after examining Kenny thoroughly, Paul asked is Kenny had been in a fight recently? When he was told about the episode with the Alsatian he said that lump on Kenny’s side was as a result of the attack and had to be operated on. Paul performed a successful operation on him and when my husband called to collect “the patient” Paul said Kenny would need his dressings changed on Monday and to bring him over.

When my husband pointed out that Monday was a bank-holiday Paul said “so it is, but not to worry, drive him over to the surgery at around 3 o’ clock and I will meet you there”. My husband was outside at 3 o’ clock and Paul pulled up in his car at 3.05 and changed the dressing – on a bank holiday Monday!

Another time we noticed that Kenny’s lower eye-lids had “dropped” badly. We thought it was only temporary and kept putting a visit to the vet “on the long finger”! Eventually my husband brought Kenny over to Ratoath surgery. As it so happened, Paul wasn’t on duty that evening, so my husband was seen to by another vet from the practice who diagnosed “entropium”, and said that if Kenny was left in to the surgery the following morning that Paul was on duty and could perform the operation. My husband left Kenny in the surgery the next day on his way to work.

To make a long story short, Paul telephoned me later that morning to ask me how long Kenny’s eyes had been in that condition and I told him probably about nine months. He went on to say that in his opinion, Kenny hadn’t got entropium and as he wasn’t exactly sure what Kenny’s condition was he thought it better to get a second opinion from an eye specialist.

He said he would rather not perform an operation on Kenny’s eyes when he had an element of doubt. I thought that was most considerate of him. He suggested that I make an appointment to see Michael Woods, the eye-specialist in Dun Laoghaire. I did go to Michael Woods afterwards and he confirmed that Kenny’s condition was far more serious than entropium, so Paul was right! Some weeks later Kenny was operated on successfully by Michael Woods.


Vet Nominated: Gerrard & Lisa O Gorman
Practise/Surgery: O Gorman Veterinary
Address of Practise/Surgery: McCurtain Street
Co. Monaghan
Telephone:047 51037
Pet Owner From: Latlurcan, Monaghan, Co. Monaghan
Pet Info: 4 Horses – Bi, Ba, Chindato & Condato Age of pet(s):2 mares-9 years, 2 yearlings Reason for Nomination:
Gerrard O Gorman has been my vet for many years, and last year, his daughter Lisa joined his practice. I had occasion to meet Lisa and her sister Leonie under very tragic circumstances last April, and will always be grateful to the O Gorman family for their support and sympathy through what has been a very difficult twelve months.

I am one of those ‘soft’ horse owners – the variety who has them for the love of the animal, not to sell on for profit. I rescued two yearling fillies from starvation in 1994, and with Gerrard’s advice managed to nurse them back to fitness. Because they were so weak as youngsters, we didn’t break the horses in until they were 6 (normally horses are broken at 4), and were delighted to find that one of them, Bi, turned out to have considerable talent.

We had a lot of fun showjumping and doing Riding Club classes for a year together, then in spring 2000 Bi went on hunger strike and insisted that she wanted a foal. We put both mares in foal to a successful showjumping stallion, and Gerrard waited out the winter with us, advising on diet, tetanus and flu cover etc.

On the 19th of April last year, Bi gave birth to a healthy colt, Chindato. The birth was easy, she cleaned within half an hour, and within the hour was lifting her leg to stick the teat into the foal’s searching muzzle. The following morning, which was Saturday, we let mother and baby out for a few hours, and it was clear when they came in that afternoon that Bi was in some low-grade pain.

Lisa came out that evening to treat Bi for an impacted colic, bringing Leonie, her sister, along to assist. The two girls spent over an hour gently stomach tubing 5 litres of cooking oil into Bi to help the mare pass the blockage. The mare did pass some dung that night, and things were looking better. However, by Sunday afternoon, things were clearly not improving, and once more Lisa and Leonie spent the evening with a sick horse. They left us at 12.30am (they had a half hour’s journey to get home), after administering more fluids by stomach tube, as well as pain killers and anti-spasmodic drugs.

I spent the night with Bi and the foal, and by 6.30 the following morning, it was clear the mare was slipping downhill. Gerrard was at the farm at 7am, and gave Bi fluids by IV, Lisa was back by mid-morning; all through the day, IV fluids and painkillers bought Bi more time to clear the infection. It got to the stage that the vein wouldn’t take a needle any more, and Lisa quietly opened the vein with a blade, all the time talking to Bi and reassuring her.

In all, Gerrard and Lisa visited Bi 13 times from Saturday morning to Monday night. After a final IV at 11pm didn’t seem to bring any improvement, we made the decision to put Bi to sleep. Lisa administered the injection, all the time staying gentle and calm and keeping the mare as quiet as possible. Lisa left the farm at midnight, and I know she cried the whole way home.

I will always be thankful to Gerrard and Lisa for their sympathetic handling of Bi, who was an excitable horse who could be quite intimidating to treat, as she made a big objection to anything you asked her to do. She had never been stomach tubed before, and while she clearly hated it, Lisa took her time lowering the tube down the oesophagus, and the mare remained calm. Likewise, the mare never objected to all the needles in her neck, and continued to nurse the foal all through her illness.
We have seen a lot of Lisa and Gerrard over the past year. Chindato needed three enemas before he could dung on his own. He then developed a urinary infection, followed shortly thereafter by an umbilical hernia.

Three weeks after we lost Bi, Ba foaled a week early, and didn’t clean. Gerrard came out at 10pm when the mare had reached the 8 hour stage to assist. He was back the next day to check that the mare was passing dung normally, two days later to the foal, who developed pneumonia in the rotten May weather, and a further two visits within the week whenever the foal looked in danger of slipping back. A further four visits to Ba over the course of a fortnight were needed to clear a uterine infection.

We had a few months of normality, until the second foal, Condato, developed an abscess in a hind hoof. I lost count of the number of visits Gerrard made, as the foal started to colic with the pain, sitting up on his haunches like a dog. Poor Gerrard was at our farm on Christmas Eve at 6pm, and on New Year’s eve as well!

You’d think they’d get easier as they get older, but in the last month I have had to call on the O’Gormans once again. Three weeks ago, Condato shoved Chindato through an iron gate at a flat gallop (I think he forgot it was closed), and Lisa was there within 20 minutes to tend to rapidly swelling knees.

I arrived up at the farm one lunchtime just last week to find a quiet Chindato with a line of blood running from underneath his heavy forelock and down the front of his face. He wouldn’t let me look under the forelock, so I called the O Gormans, telling them that it was probably just a scratch and that I was just fussing, but could they possibly fit a visit in some time that day.

Lisa was there in ten minutes, expecting to dust a little antibiotic powder on a minor cut and reassure a neurotic owner. She ended up putting 20 stitches in a gash which ran from one ear to the other across the front of the yearling’s head, and which went all the way down to the bone. In the last 10 days Gerrard has been out twice to check on the progress of the wound and ensure that the deepest bit continues to drain.

It’s not just the hours that the O Gormans have given to my horses that prompted me to nominate them, but their obvious concern and genuine empathy for the animals. They made a difficult decision easier for me by advising me that the option of surgery for Bi’s impaction was likely to have a low prognosis of success, and we were able to make an informed decision that she was best to try to clear the blockage herself rather than endure an agonising 31/2 hour horsebox journey and the additional pain and stress of surgery.

Being a horse vet isn’t easy – a few days after we lost Bi, Lisa spent the day with a mare with a prolapsed womb, whose owner refused to put her down, trying to make her as comfortable as possible while she waited for the inevitable infection and blood loss to take the mare. And last week when she was out stitching Chindato’s head back on (almost literally!), Lisa told me that she had just spent the morning trying to free a pony from barbed wire single handedly, where a neighbour had called her in while the owners were away. She may therefore not get paid, but to Lisa that’s not the point.

As I work for the County Council, I have been able to show my gratitude by arranging for the Civil Defence to make themselves available to assist the vets whenever they need extra hands.

I would also like to tell everyone through these awards what truly remarkable people Gerrard and Lisa O Gorman are. They have dedicated their lives to animals, 7 days a week, 24 hours of each day and 365 days of the year, a record that I can personally attest to.

In the past twelve months, I have probably asked the O Gormans to come out at least thirty times, including Christmas Eve, a few bank holidays, and numerous Saturday and Sunday evenings. They have always answered the phone – even at 6.30am – and they have always arrived within half an hour, which is an achievement in itself, as it takes me longer than that to drive the same journey myself!

I am nominating Gerrard and Lisa to say an inadequate but heart felt thank you to them for all their loving care of the horses, and undinting support of the owner throughout the most harrowing year of my life.

A final word of nomination comes from the horses, who despite all the needles and tubes and rubber rings and stitches and nasty tasting concoctions, still run in from the field when they see Gerrard’s Landrover or Lisa’s car arrive. They know their friends!


Vet Nominated: John Finnegan
Henry and Finnegan Animal Clinic,
Main Street
Co. Roscommon
Tel 0907-21242
Pet Owner From:Castlerea, Co. Roscommon
Pet Info:3 dogs (Ben, Chelsea, Skip) aged 10, 3 and 7 and 1 cat (Buttons) aged 1 ½ Reason for nomination:
I would like to nominate John Finnegan, who is just a God send to our area. Letter attached:

Dear Judging Panel,
Thank you very much for giving me this opportunity to nominate my vet for the Vet of the Year award, 2002.

His name is John Finnegan who practices with Frank Henry at Main Street, Castlerea and is also available at his home address at Farm, Williamstown, Co. Galway.

John is one in ten million. His qualities include punctuality, manner, courtesy, efficiency, good humour, always smiling but most of all his compassion and concern for every animal large and small and always spares a thought for their owner. John always takes time to explain what the problem is and what the future might be, and the course he will follow with an animal.

When you call John for a sick animal, he will be able to tell you how long until he will be with you.

Episode 1
In the past few months I had two very ill dogs, both Bernese Mountain Dogs.

Our female, Chelsea, swallowed a tea cloth from the kitchen and after a few days I noticed her unwell. I rang John (this was two days before Christmas) and he came around and examined her and gave her the treatment required. But nothing had happened – on Christmas Eve John called again without being asked and said to take her to the surgery and he would have to operate on her.

He did his procedure and he said she needed to be put on a drip and I freaked – a drip ! how will I manage this ? We took her home and made a bed for her in the kitchen and John followed and set up the drip, said don’t worry, I’ll call back later.

We took our twins to stay with her and a few hours later, John was outside again, he checked her out and all was OK.

Next day was Christmas Day which was like “faulty towers”. John arrived before he went to Mass and changed her drip and did the necessary. He arrived again before dinner and again that evening to remove the drip totally. He called every day for a few days until he saw her back in full health again. She made a full recovery thank God, but we owe it all to John Finnegan for his dedication and concern.

Episode 2
Our other beautiful Bernese Dog, Ben, who was 10 years old, had enjoyed a wonderful life, took ill gradually early this Spring. He lost weight rapidly and stopped eating. John was treating him on different courses of medication for a while, until he broke the bad news to us gradually and took the time to explain the progress of his condition.

He advised us that even though he was deteriorating he had no pain, he was very cheerful and happy. Despite his illness, he loved to see John coming in. John always sat down with Ben, stroked his head, petted him and talked to him like he was a human. This meant so much to us, it made the trauma of Ben’s illness easier. John called every day when he was passing or on his way home – as he would say himself, “to say hello to Ben.”

Ben died suddenly on Easter Sunday and my husband rang John to let him know before he would call. John being John came to the house and he knew we were all upset, and he kept re-assuring me that he had no pain, that was important. John called again for days to see how we were coping.

I was very upset and crying and I kept apologising for my behaviour and John kept saying “it’s ok to cry for a pet, it’s like losing a family member”. He told me stories of his own experience on losing their old dog and said “it’s good to talk.”

This is just a snippet of John’s professionalism, caring nature, sensitive to everyone’s case and thoughtfulness. I would be really pleased if you would give John the deserved prize and I am only speaking for all our area and beyond where is run (blind ? Unable to read). He deserves the break and give him time to get away from door to door calls and relax and enjoy a weekend away.

I thank you most sincerely for taking time to read this letter and keep John in mind for your award.

Pet Owner From: Castlecoote, Roscommon, Co. Roscommon. Pet Info: Dog – Seeko. Aged 1 year. Reason for Nomination:
Dear Panel of Judges, This letter is being scripted by a friend of the above named, who wishes to nominate John Finnegan, c/o Animal Care Centre, Castlerea, for the Vet of the Year Award.

* I am an old age pensioner and I live with my husband in a rural area. My husband and myself never had an experience of animals or vets until I was given a little pup. We both thought it was a male and my husband too embarrassed to look for a vet.

I am after having surgery for a brain tumour and I attended a day centre, here I asked a girl who I knew loved dogs what we would do to have the pup neutered and given vaccinations (I didn’t want him going/gorey (?)).

She rang John Finnegan who lives a good journey away and he said he would call some day, just give him directions. The next day, a jeep pulled up outside and a gentleman came to the door and explained who he was. He looked at the pup and told me it’s a female and if I wished he would take her away to his surgery and do the necessary. I was very worried about the operation and he sat down and explained it all to me.

He took the dog in a lovely cage and later that evening he rang me and told me he had it all done and that she was fine. He said he would keep her for the night and bring her home to me the next day. He arrived at dinner time next day and I asked for the bill and he wouldn’t take a single thing from me, he said I had been through enough with my operation.

He called again two weeks later to take out the stitches. I have to describe this man as a compassionate gentleman, one set apart, could not get words to describe him, if only a few more men and women were like him. He was so courteous, professional and considered me as well as the pup.

This is the only opportunity I am ever going to get to repay that man for his kindness, so I hope you will give John Finnegan a good chance of the Award for 2002.


Vet Nominated: Carolyn Bermingham,
Brittas Veterinary Clinic,

Templemore Rd,
Co. Tipperary.
Tel: 0504-24401
Pet owner from:Thurles, Co. Tipperary
Pet Info: Dog – Ben. Aged 13 ¾ years. Reason for Nomination:
I would like to nominate my vet, Caroline Bermingham, of Brittas Veterinary Clinic, Thurles because of the wonderful way in which she dealt with Ben and I during Ben’s final illness.

Just less than 14 years ago, a beautiful little Golden Labrador puppy came into my life. This little puppy grew into a beautiful dog and became a precious friend. He brought love, happiness, comfort and joy to me and members of my family.

The team at Brittas Veterinary Clinic looked after him all his life. When he developed what was to be his final illness in November 2001, it was Caroline who attended him. What began as recurring bladder infections, turned out to be cancer of the prostate with secondaries in his chest. Caroline did everything she could to help him. She never gave us hope and exhausted all avenues of treatment.
On busy surgery evenings, she often took time to sit down and talk to me, explaining in simple words what was going on.

When all hope was gone and I had to make the agonising decision to let him go, on January 23rd last, it was Caroline who was there at the end, ever gentle and compassionate. Caroline’s highly professional way extended beyond caring for Ben. She recognised how important he was to me and at all times acknowledged and respected that.

I feel that Caroline would be a very worthy recipient of a Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Award for 2002.
Thanking you, Kindest Regards,


Vet Nominated: Triona Kinane
Practise/Surgery: Midlands Veterinary Centre

Address of Practise/Surgery: Bonavalley,
Dublin Road,
Co. Westmeath.
Practise/Surgery Telephone: 0902-74020
Pet Owner From:Athlone, Co. Westmeath
Pet Info: Dog – Casey, labrador aged 2 years Reason for Nomination:
When Casey was 4½ months old she ate a lightbulb. As you can imagine the internal damage to her was dreadful and her outlook not too good. The quick reaction from my Vet, Triona, and the constant care and attention Casey received is what saved her life. Triona kept in regular contact with me, updating me on Casey constantly, and in doing this kept me from worrying.

Casey’s care did not end there – when she was less than 1 year old she obtained a limp and a lot of discomfort in her hips. She needed an operation on her ‘knee’. Triona was the first to notice this and immediately organised the appointment with the specialist and afterwards monitored her exercise and general well being.

At this stage Casey cried every time going to the vets – but Triona not only treated her but spend time talking to her and reassuring her it was all right.

As you can see Casey has a long history with Vets and in particular Triona. Triona gave a lot of patience and time to helping Casey recover over her many mishaps. She formed a special friendship with her and gained a lot of trust in doing so. I am glad to say when ever Casey visits the vets now she gladly follows Triona into the Consulting Room, wagging her tail, delighted to see her, knowing no harm is going to come to her and that Triona is on ‘her side’. If not for Triona, Casey would have a terrible fear of vets, whereas now she feels safe and happy going to the vets.

Since then, between one ailment and another, Casey has had numerous visits to the vets, but thanks to Triona’s handling and treatment of Casey, it’s become more like a second home to her now, where she gets loads of attention and a treat every now and then.


Vet Nominated:
Chris Young
Arena Veterinary Hospital

Tel: 053-42891
Pet Owner From:Rocklands, Wexford
Pet Info:Daisey, Springer spaniel, aged 7-8 years Reason for nomination:
Daisey, a springer spaniel, came in to our office a few months ago. She could not sit down as her teats were raw, red and infected. She was still trying to feed two pups, who were roughly 12 weeks old. She was skin and bone. She had been kicked in the mouth and her teeth were all broken.

Daisey kept trying to stand up. She kept wagging her tail. We decided to put her to sleep. She was too sick and too old to re-home. She needed a lot of medical attention which the WSPCA could not afford. I had 10 dogs of my own and could not afford to take Daisey on.

Mr Young saw how upset we were, so he decided to keep Daisey as a resident here at the hospital and he gave all the treatment she needed and more. Daisey now leads a very happy and healthy life, she loves everyone and when you tell her to smile, she smiles.

This clinic would not be the same without Daisey.

If it were not for Chris Young and his kindness to all animals, Daisey would now be dead. We have a room here at Arena Veterinary Centre in Rocklands where we have our office and things are going from strength to strength. I work here 6 days a week and thank God I see great improvements in the way people treat their animals.

I know we have a long way to go, but I feel we are making progress.
Thank you and God bless.

Vet Nominated: Annette Quegan
Barrowside Veterinary Hospital

Milbanks, Rosbercon,
New Ross, Co. Wexford
Tel 051-425400
e-mail: oconnorsvets@eircom.net
Pet Owner From: Fethard-on-Sea, New Ross, Co. Wexford.
Pet Info: Cat – Panther (Puss). Aged around 5 and a half (not sure). Reason for Nomination:
To whom it may concern:

We would like to nominate our vet Annette Quegan for the pet care award because of her compassion and dedication in caring for our cat “Puss”.

Our introduction to Annette came about after our cat, christened “Panther” but known as “Puss”, strayed onto our windowsill one cold January evening almost four years ago.

Never having owned a pet, our first challenge was to coax him to feed. That mastered, it was time to consult the professional regarding his flea infestation, worming, vaccinations and neutering. And so “Puss” had his first consultation with Annette who practices at Barrowside Veterinary Hospital, New Ross.

Her caring, gentle approach with “Puss”, her professionalism and the state of the art facilities she provided when he had to be detained overnight were evident even on these, his first routine tasks.

Within a few weeks we noticed that “Puss” was unwell. Cat flu and recurrent pneumonia alerted Annette to the possibility of something more sinister. A series of blood tests confirmed the worst – our “Puss” had ‘feline AIDS’.

Since his diagnosis we have entrusted Annette with his veterinary care – a task she has undertaken with commitment bordering on devotion. Her challenge which continues to the present day is to stabilise him on medication to allow him some quality of life for the time he has left.

This involves regular steroid and vitamin injections which at this stage Annette administers every three weeks. Frequent setbacks due to infections mean that Annette has to see “Puss” more often. The most recent such crisis was in late August when “Puss” developed a temperature of almost 106* and had to be detained at the veterinary hospital overnight. Despite coping with the stresses of moving house, Annette found time to visit the surgery at 10.00 p.m. to check on him and up-date us on his progress. Evidence surely of Annette’s dedication and compassion and typical of her approach towards her care of “Puss” during the past four years.

Annette is a busy Mum of 6 and even while on maternity leave, has made herself available for all “Puss” emergencies. When she goes on holiday she leaves a supply of medicine and a contact number so we can alert her to any deterioration in his condition. Even on New Year’s Eve she assured us that if necessary she could be contacted at her parent’s home in Offaly, where she was spending the holiday weekend.

As a vet, Annette is also very sensitive to the plight of the pet owner. As “Puss”‘ besotted owners, she has had to endure our panic-stricken phone calls – mostly at ungodly hours. We find her most sympathetic to our anxiety and has on several occasions had to rescue us from the downbeat mood that envelops us when “Puss” falls ill.

Annette’s priority is to ensure that “Puss” visits to the clinic are as stress free as possible. On every occasion she takes the time to speak to and stroke him. “Puss” has been known to calmly leave his cage without coaxing and jump on the examination table – a testament to the trust Annette has established with him.
We also wish to acknowledge Annette’s patience and flexibility when it comes to her appointment schedule. On at least one occasion “Puss” has gone A.W.O.L. when it was time to leave home for a clinic appointment. Like all cats Puss operates strictly to his own non-negotiable timetable thus forcing us, much to our embarrassment, to cancel at very short notice.

We have no doubt that Annette’s speedy diagnosis of “Puss'” condition and her excellent follow-up care has meant that it’s not all doom and gloom. There are days when “Puss” can chase a twirling leaf, climb a tree, pounce on a mouse or present us with a rabbit at the kitchen window. It is thanks to Annette that he has the joy of doing and we have the joy of watching.

As we pen this we recall that on “Puss'” first visit to the clinic Annette opened a file on him entering his description as “common domestic” – much to our horror – our “Puss” was anything but “common”. With the passage of time we have discovered that as a vet Annette, like “Puss”, is neither “common” or “ordinary”. In fact we think she is extraordinary.

So we, together with “Puss”, have no hesitation in nominating Annette Quegan for the Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Award 2002.

Pet Owner From:Southknock, New Ross, Co. Wexford.
Pet Info: 3 dogs – Tom, Belle & Lady Age of pet(s):Nearly 15, 4years & 4 months Reason for Nomination:
Annette has time for everyone no matter how trivial the problem. Animals and pet owners love her. She is treating my old Labrador, Tom for some years now. His back legs are very weak now. Three times already this year I took him to her thinking this is it, I won’t be bringing him back. Life suddenly springs into his legs when he sees her! As she squats on the floor alongside him giving him an injection he licks her!

She also looks after Belle, Tom’s granddaughter who had a beautiful litter of nine pups last May. She looked after those pups too and made sure everyone of them was strong and healthy before I let them off to their new owners. Lady is one of those pups and is also treated by Annette. Annette is a very special lady and I hope she wins this award as she really deserves it.
Thank you.

Received 1 day later:
Thanks for notification. May I add a postscript to my recommendation please?
Yesterday Tom, my old labrador, had an appointment with Annette. Again I had that feeling that he might not come back home. I was right! Just looking at him she knew he had got a lot worse. We discussed the options, which was increasing his dosage, which might give him and extra month or two or put him to sleep. After tears and kindly advice we agreed. Lying on the floor with Breda, the very kind receptionist, myself and Annette sitting around him Old Tom very quietly left us. They were so gentle and compassionate with him and myself. I thank them both.
Thank you – please let me know if this can be added on.

Pet Owner From:New Ross, Co. Wexford.
Pet Info: Cats – Einstein, Ginger and lucky. Aged 9 ½, 5 years and 6 ½ weeks. Reason for Nomination:
I would like to nominate my vet because over the summer, my pet Einstein became ill. I noticed he was becoming slower and he became irritated when I touched his chest. Annette immediately took an X-ray and blood tests. She understood almost straightaway that he was extremely ill.

I adored my pet but admired Annette’s honesty when she told me that she was looking for leukaemia or feline AIDS. She took the time out of work to explain what I was dealing with when the results proved that he was positive for feline AIDS.

She acted sympathetically towards me and told me to take him home until I was ready or felt he was getting worse. She gave great advice and answered honestly to all of my questions. She gave me her personal mobile number in case he got worse and told me if I needed her to call.

When the day came for Einstein to be put to sleep, she understood my need to be with him during and after his death.

I also had the luck of finding an orphaned kitten a couple of weeks ago. She was two weeks old and Annette offered her advice on hand-rearing and first injections absolutely free.

Annette understands people almost as well as she does animals. I’ve never known a vet to love animals and connect with them as well as Annette does and I think she should win the 2002 Award because she takes the time to understand the owners and pets and shows great compassion when dealing with situations like mine – whilst always maintaining what is in the best interests of the pet.


Vet Nominated:
Enda Costigan
Practise/Surgery: Blacklion Pet Hospital

Address of Practise/Surgery:
Practise/Surgery Telephone: 01-2875283
Pet Owner From: Kilmuckridge, Gorey, Co.Wexford
Pet Info: Bubba Golden Labrador dog 1 year old Reason for Nomination:
My most loyal and faithful canine companion “Bubba” had the misfortune to be born with a very rare inherited condition that attacks his knee joints and can be disabling.

It was soul destroying to watch such a clever and lively pup struggle to walk. We visited many vets in search of a person who could improve the quality of my beautiful dog’s life as he was quite obviously in a lot of discomfort and wanted so much to run around and be a pup!!

Being referred to Enda was beyond a doubt the best thing that could have happened! Driving to Greystones that morning with Bubba’s little head on my lap, I knew this was our last hope and tears filled my eyes. After all I’d become so attached to Bubba.

Meeting Enda is a time I will never forget, I have never met a vet with such empathy, compassion and an innate ability to relate to and communicate with animals. Bubba took to him straight away and eagerly licked his face (slobbering over poor Enda’s glasses!!!). The first thing that struck me was that Enda took the time to form a bond with my dog, chatting, petting and playing with him. The examination was carried out in such a gentle caring way that Bubba wagged his tail throughout. I’d never seen him so relaxed and happy in a surgery before.

Enda explained everything clearly and gave me all the information and advice I needed! He is, in my opinion, a perfect role model in the veterinary profession…totally dedicated to the wellbeing, health and care of all animals and their happiness is number one with him. Enda had a wonderful way with Bubba and he seemed to understand his very nature allowing him to bond with him instantly, putting Bubba and his concerned owner at ease!!!

Over the past year Bubba has regularly visited Enda and has undergone two big operations which were very sucessful. During both hospital stays I missed him terribly but knew he was in the best hands and

Enda always took the time out of his busy schedule to ring me and fill me in on Bubba’s progress. It was the simple but thoughtful things Enda would tell me (like Bubba was awake and chewing on a bone or tearing a ball to shreds) that put my mind at ease.

On each check-up Bubba would nearly pull the arm off me as he raced in to see Enda knowing he would be the centre of attention! Enda regularly keeps in contact with me and I can’t even begin to describe the delight in his voice when he hears that Bubba is leaping over waves and retrieving sticks on the beach.

I believe that Enda was destined to be a vet and even if he doesn’t win this award he has won my respect and total gratitude. And even more important than that he has won the best prize of all…being loved in return by all creatures great and small.

Pet Owner From:Rathdrum, Co. Wicklow
Pet Info:Rex and Frosty, dogs aged 6 months, and 8 years Reason for nomination:
In April of this year my beautiful Collie Rover developed kidney problems. Enda tried dialysis etc. but unfortunately nothing could be done.

I had to make that awful decision. The thought of being without Rover was unbearable, the thought of sitting with him while he was given that fatal injection , I don’t think I would have gotten through it but for Enda. He allowed me to sit on the floor with him, for well over an hour, even though the surgery was busy .

He listened patiently as I talked endlessly about his little quirks, even for quite a long time after Rover had died, he stayed and talked to me, giving me a cup of coffee.

Such kindness and consideration was not shown to me when my parents died.
I do hope he gets the recognition he so rightly deserves.
Thanking you.

Vet Nominated: Gary Fortune,
Harbour Veterinary Clinic,

The Harbour,
Co. Wicklow.
Tel: 01-2872099
Pet Owner From:Delgany, Co. Wicklow
Pet Info:Dog – Jordon and 6 puppies. Aged 4 years. Reason for Nomination:
“Jordon” my St. Bernard bitch had a litter of beautiful puppies on the 13th of December 2001. Unfortunately there were complications.

Jordon’s milk was carrying a bacteria and we did not realise so she became extremely ill as did the puppies. It looked so grave that we thought that we would lose Jordon and her puppies.

However, due to the effort, dedication and committed care of Gary we have the pleasure of enjoying Jordon’s companionship and that of her puppies today.

Gary Fortune came to our house twice a day over the very busy Christmas period and even was contactable for our dogs on Christmas Day. Only for his professionalism and compassion for my dogs and their owners (us), we could have had a very dark Festive season. He was great.

As a separate issue to nominating my vet could I please take this opportunity to express my appreciation for one of your products – Synulox, this drug kept my puppies and their mother alive. I was concerned about the puppies receiving such heavy amounts of antibiotics as young but it certainly has not impeded their growth and health in any way. Recently two of the puppies won major awards at dog shows, and their future looks very promising.

Thank you for your attention.