2003 Winners



James Herriott” a “walking St Francis” or “Dr Dolittle, Florence Nightingale and a psychologist all in one” are just some of the ways that Irish pet owners have described their vets in stories written for the 4th annual Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Award Programme.   The results of the 2003 National Awards, based on nominations from members of the public, were announced on Sunday 23rd November, 2003.


The winner of the National Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Award for 2003 is Annette Quegan from Barrowside Veterinary Hospital in Rosbercon, New Ross, Co.Wexford.


Annette was presented with the perpetual Stronghold trophy at the awards ceremony in Citywest in Dublin.  Although she received a number of nominations commending her for being compassionate, dedicated and available to handle emergencies or patient concerns, her winning nomination was entered by Sr Brenda from the Mount Carmel Monastery in New Ross, for Annette’s care of pet dogs Bonnie and the critically ill Mitzi.


Second place in the national awards went to John O’Mahony and his team from the Animal Care Hospital in Douglas, Cork.  John was a previous winner of the national title, with this year’s nominations citing his care, attention and courtesy and including his “professional and unflappable handling” of Annabelle, a 70kg St Bernard who ran into difficulty when in pup (“the task was gigantic”).


Third place was awarded to Shane Guerin of Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital, Gilabbey Street, Cork, nominated for his diligence and approachable manner combined with his excellent skills as an orthopaedic surgeon.  His nominations ranged from the sick dog who required tireless support out of hours, to the extremely distraught family whose dog was injured by a car and whose owner reflected “I often wonder looking back did he wonder which one was his patient…”


Because of the consistently high standards of veterinary professionalism and care across its entire team, including vets Andrew Byrne, Nicola Neumann and Pete Wedderburn, the judges presented a Veterinary Practice Excellence Award to Brayvet Animal Hospital on Old Conna Avenue, Bray, Co. Wicklow.




A Special Judge’s Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Liam Guerin from Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital.


Now in his 50th year as a vet, Liam Guerin’s special award was presented:

“to acknowledge a career wholeheartedly dedicated to the health and welfare of all types of animals, combined with a commitment to the most up to date veterinary advances, total professionalism and the leadership to inspire veterinary excellence and high standards amongst colleagues and associates.”    


Liam Guerin’s nominations ranged from pet owners to dairy farmers, some commending over 40 years of professional service; and included Fota Wildlife Park.   Although judged entirely separately, interestingly Liam and Shane Guerin are father and son.


Organised by Pfizer Animal Health in association with the Irish Veterinary Journal, in 2003 the pet owners who submitted stories collectively own 461 dogs, 353 cats and a variety of other pets ranging from guinea pigs, rabbits and budgies; to ponies, goats and fancy rats.  Nominations were also received from animal rescue centres and organisations representing wide varieties of animals, including ring-tailed lemurs and giraffes.


Speaking at the Awards Ceremony, Brian More O’Ferrall from Pfizer Animal Health explained that the stories from pet owners are exciting, traumatic, amusing or of course often very sad; but all of the stories reflect just how much pets are loved by their owners and therefore how vitally important good veterinary support is to them.


“The Stronghold Award programme raises awareness about the broad range of skills available from veterinary surgeons and it also highlights and showcases high standards of veterinary care,” said Brian More O’Ferrall.




“However it also provides an opportunity to re-iterate that all important message that caring for pets is a long term responsibility which should not be taken lightly.   Caring for pets properly means good diet, regular exercise, regular veterinary care such as vaccinations and worm and flea treatment, as well as the potential implications of emergency care if it arises,” said Brian More O’Ferrall.  “Those considering getting a pet are always advised to talk to a vet beforehand about what is involved in minding that type of pet properly.”


At the 2003 Stronghold Awards Ceremony a number of vets were also Highly Commended.  These were:

  • Argyle & Bainbridge Veterinary practising in Dundrum and Stillorgan, Dublin
  • Ark Veterinary Clinic, St Mary’s Road, Galway (2nd consecutive year)
  • Richard Brennan, Richard Brennan Veterinary, Thomastown, Co. Kilkenny (2nd consecutive year)
  • Adrienne Carroll, Moss Veterinary Clinic, Naas, Co. Kildare
  • Cathedral and Crescent Veterinary based in Limerick City and Dooradoyle Co. Limerick
  • Nicky Harvey, Harvey’s Veterinary, Kilrush, Co. Clare
  • Killian Ó Móráin, Fabby & Associates Veterinary Surgeons, Westport, Co. Mayo
  • Animal  Clinic Castleknock and Phoenix Park Gate Veterinary, Dublin 7
  • Thomas Rennick, T. Rennick Veterinary, Tuam, Co. Galway




Issued by:       Progress Communications  info@progresspr.ie



Click here to see sample nominations for Annette Quegan

Click here to see sample nominations for John O’Mahony

Click here to see sample nominations for Shane Guerin

Click here to see sample nominations for Liam Guerin

Click here to see sample nominations for Brayvet




Annette Quegan, Barrowside Veterinary Hospital, Rosbercon, New Ross, Co.Wexford


National Winner of the 2003 Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Awards


Entrant Contact Info: Sr. Brenda, Mount Carmel Monastery, New Ross, Co. Wexford.

Tel: 051-421076

Pet Info: Dogs – Mitzi and Bonnie. Aged 11 and 9.


Vet Info: (name, surgery, address)

Annette Quegan, Barrowside Veterinary Hospital,

Millbanks, Rosbercon, New Ross, Co. Wexford.                   Tel: 051-425400


Reason for nomination:

I would like to nominate my vet Annette Quegan because she has given outstanding service to both our dogs, Mitzi and Bonnie. But Mitzi in particular needed more veterinary attention. She was a very nervous dog and no vet could do anything with her without using a muzzle. Annette however, on becoming her vet about 4 years ago, gradually won her trust and confidence. Mitzi let herself be examined and treated by Annette without any problem, something unheard of till then.


Mitzi developed a kidney complaint and Annette managed to treat her effectively with a special diet and antibiotics. Then she had a tumour, which eventually needed to be removed. With her history, it was a very delicate operation and Annette warned me it could be fatal. I trusted Annette and knew she would do her best and I wasn’t surprised when Mitzi made a full recovery. Within a day she walked back into the Monastery delighted with herself and so were we all! She has had a wonderful few months of renewed health.


I couldn’t speak highly enough of Annette. Not only is she sensitive to the dogs needs but also was very aware of how we felt. She was available on her mobile phone even when not on duty to answer any query or problem and didn’t hesitate to visit if necessary. She is always most gracious, good humoured and professional. I can’t imagine anyone giving better service than Annette gives.


Sr. Brenda and Community.


Editorial footnote:  Mitzi has subsequently passed away




Pet Info: SPCA New Ross – RE: Stray cats and dogs and injured animals.


Reason for nomination:

I would like to nominate Annette O’ Connor for her kindness and help she gives to all stray and unwanted animals that SPCA New Ross pick up. Dogs are given a second chance and with Annette’s help find new homes for them. Also cats and kittens get a second chance and wildlife that’s injured and brought into the Practice. Annette is very kind and caring.


First and foremost I nominate Annette O’ Connor, but I would like to say “Thank you Annette” from all the animals – strays and unwanted who have new homes with the help of all the staff behind the scenes and I would like to say THANK YOU from Ann Roche SPCA on behalf of all the animals. “Woof-woof”, “Mieow”.




Gentleman from New Ross

Pet Info: Cats – Oskar and Sooty. Aged 1 year and 3 months.


Reason for nomination:

I would like to nominate my vet because she was absolutely brilliant with my two cats, especially Sooty. Sooty had an extremely bad accident last February where she broke her tail, dislocated her hip, tore all the skin off her back leg along with all the flesh off that leg as well. She also damaged her bladder and was unable to go to the toilet by herself and had to have her bladder expressed.


Annette nursed her back to health and really took the time out to get to know all her likes and dislikes and her temperament. I was most distraught when Sooty had her accident and Annette put my mind at rest because I could see how much she cared for Sooty and seemed to know her. I reckon she cared for Sooty as if she was her own pet.




Lady from Thomastown

Pet Info: Fancy rats- Bramble, Willow and Daisy. Aged 2 years old.


Reason for nomination:

I have never come across a more dedicated, committed and hard working vet as Annette and I truly believe she is deserving of first place in these awards.


I originally met Annette 3 years ago with my first 2 Fancy Rats. Over this initial period, Annette and I learnt a lot about these fascinating animals. 2 years ago I got 3 other Fancy Rats – Bramble, Willow and Daisy. They were an instant hit with Annette, and if she was wearing a hooded top, they liked nothing better than to climb up her arm, over her shoulder, and then sit in the hood hanging down the back! Most visits were usually concerned with minor ailments here and there. However, at the start of this year, Daisy started to develop a mammary tumour, which was inoperable. After reading articles from ‘The Rat Lady’ in America. Annette and I put Daisy on chemotherapy (Tablets), without these drugs, Daisy would only have lived for 6 weeks as the tumour was fast growing.


However, Daisy was still having fun and enjoying life 6 months later – as the drugs caused the tumour to grow at a slower rate.


Unfortunately, just before her 2nd birthday, the cancer finally started to get a firm hold. By this time we had made numerous trips to Annette, many out of hours, at Bank Holidays, weekends, etc. –nothing was ever too much trouble. By August, it was time say goodbye, and again Annette was on hand with her kind and caring ways and of course compassion.


Bramble and Willow are still around and I am sure they will be visiting their favourite vet some time over the coming months. I truly cannot recommend Annette highly enough – definitely one of a kind!




Lady from New Ross

Pet Info: Jack Russell – Noinin (RIP) –was aged 15 years.


Reason for nomination:

I would like to nominate my vet because she is only the best. After caring for my much loved and faithful Jack Russell Terrier for the past 8 years, Annette had the awful task of coming to tell me that my little pet was not going to make it, after having spent 3 days on an intravenous drip. Noinin died peacefully on Sunday morning 11 am on the 9th of March and it broke my heart.


However, there was great support from Annette who, despite being a busy mother and as well as a vet, was able to spend a couple of hours with me and was so compassionate and helpful in every way – arranging for cremation and making further calls to make sure I was all right. She is now on the lookout for a new dog for me and I’m sure her choice will only be the best.

I nominate Annette Quegan as the Best Vet in Ireland.


Last March the 9th, our little Noinin died,

Unsullied soul retiring to its source,

Through whom all creatures great and small abide,

Some loaned to us as sharers in life’s course,

She guessed our sorrows and our joys she shared,

Until she heard the Masters voices one morn,


Whoever claims there is no dog above,

Might also claim there is no God of love.

Moira Murphy.






Entrant Contact Info:

Couple from Fethard on Sea


Pet Info:  Panther (Puss) cat, aged 6 ½ years


Reason for nomination:

As we nominate Annette for the 2nd time for this award her dedication to the care of our cat Puss is well documented.  We are delighted to relate that another year on despite his feline AIDS, Puss is doing remarkably well. Annette’s early diagnosis and her continuing excellent care are the major contributors to his longevity and good health.


Annette is always available when there is a crisis such as a midnight consultation when Puss developed cystitis (even though she was off duty) .  This is great reassurance to us as pet owners and this was much appreciated.


As time goes on we must compliment Annette on her ongoing  professionalism as a vet.   She keeps abreast of research into feline aids and is in constant contact with the veterinary college.  As well as his usual steroid and vitamin treatment, Annette has recently used vaccinations on Puss to which he has responded well.


In competitions like this we acknowledge the acute condition, the crisis and the emergency response by our vet.  Annette has done all of that in relation to our cat, but in our opinion what makes her even more deserving of the pet care award is her consistant kindness and gentleness to Puss who is now in her care for almost 5 years.    Puss still visits the clinic about every 3 weeks and Annette always has time for a cuddle and words of reassurance for him.


Just as Puss’ illness is chronic, Annette’s compassion and excellent care of him has now also become chronic.  So this is a plea from Puss and his owners to acknowledge Annette’s prowess as a vet and reward her with the veterinary pet care award 2003.









John O’Mahony, Animal Care Hospital, 14 The Fingerpost, Douglas, Cork


2nd Prize 2003 Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Awards


Entrant Contact Info:  Lady from Blackrock
Pet Info:
Name of pet(s):Buddy & Rusty Type of pet: Dogs   Age of pet(s):Five years & Three Years

Reason for Nomination:

For his attention, and caring way. In this nomination I hope I will be able to convey through my writing how good John made us feel at a very sad time.  I haven’t had to go to John much over the 5 years I had Buddy, it was just once a year for boosters and maybe about three visits with our other dog Rusty.

One morning in July we got up to find our dog Buddy (aged five) unable to walk. We called John’s surgery and John saw him immediately (8.30 am). John said he thought it was a prolapsed disc and said he needed some x-rays to be sure. He gave Buddy an injection and waited until Buddy fell asleep in my arms and then he took him into the hospital to do further examinations. Sure enough when we collected Buddy that afternoon, John confirmed Buddy had a disc problem.

John spent a lot of time explaining how we would have to care for Buddy in the coming weeks. But a few days later we had to take Buddy back as he was in pain even with the prescribed medication. John changed his medication and Buddy held his own for a few days until once again he was in great pain. We had to put Buddy to sleep after ten days.  During this time John always kept in touch with us about Buddy’s progress.

During Buddy’s illness John actually went to the trouble of consulting a friend of his who was on holiday in Cork and is a specialist in this field – bringing him to his surgery to show him the x-rays of Buddy.

John even took the time to answer my letter of thanks to him. (Please see below) John is so compassionate, caring and kindness itself, not just to the animal he is caring for but for the owners as well. My Family and I will always think very highly of John.

I found it very hard to write this letter as I am still very lonely without Buddy, but knowing the care that John took of Buddy & my Family in our crises I could not let this time pass without making a special effort to thank him publicly.

Dear Mr. O’ Mahony,
I am writing on behalf of my Family, to thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your kindness during Buddy’s illness and myself. There was nothing too much trouble for you and we felt completely confident at all times. The amount of time you spent with us and the encouragement and advice you gave us were second to none. I would like to thank you in person but I still feel pretty sensitive.
Yours sincerely,

I take great consolation in John’s letter and shall keep it always.
John’s reply.
Thank you for your very thoughtful letter. It was very kind of you.
I wish we could have done more for Buddy. It’s always sad to see a young dog developing such a debilitating illness. One feels somewhat helpless in the circumstances.  I can assure you that, given his deterioration, you made the correct decision. It is always difficult to have to make such a choice, but the best interests of the pet have to be paramount.

I hope that the passage of time helps in getting over such a loss. You did all you could for him and that too should help – many patients don’t get the same care showered on them that you gave Buddy
PS Hopefully someday you can call to say hello.

=== END OF ENTRY ===



Lady from Ringaskiddy, Barnahely Bernards


Pet Info: Cat and dogs – too many to name. Aged 0 – 15 years.


Reason for nomination:


We wish to nominate John O’ Mahony (Vet.), Douglas, for ‘Vet of the Year’ 2003. As you will note from the enclosed, we have been involved in the dog world for 23 years. Consequently, we have experience of many veterinary practices. We have experienced 6 years of professional vet care from John O’ Mahony.


I first met John O’ Mahony in 1996 – my own vet was not available and I had heard about John from a friend and my St. Bernard needed vet help. I went to John’s surgery. My first and lasting impression of John was that of a sunny, natural, happy, confident, caring and compassionate professional vet.


The next time I met John was in 1997. On this occasion, I was there with a friend who needed a second opinion on her Shihtzu’s health. The dog’s name was Gismo. Gismo was in a very sorry state. Gismo and his brother had received their ‘7 in 1’ injection the previous evening (from another vet). Gismo reacted badly to his injection so the following morning, my friend informed the vet that Gismo was far from well as he had a high temperature and seemed to have asthma, but the vet said he’d be okay.


At this juncture I wish to point out to you that Gismo’s owner had told the vet the previous evening that the dog seemed to have the ‘sniffles’ and asked him would it be advisable to postpone the injection, but he said no problem, and gave Gismo the injection.  As Gismo’s condition deteriorated, we were looking for help. John hospitalised Gismo and stabilised him and when he appeared to be well, he went home.


However, he was soon in trouble again. Indeed, he spent the next couple of weeks ‘coming and going’  In the end my friend couldn’t cope with the distress her young children were experiencing because of Gismo’s health. As Gismo needed constant monitoring, it was decided that Gismo should come here to live “with visiting  rights”.


After about a year, Gismo finally stabilised. He now is a very happy fellow living with our gentle giants. John has always been on hand to give advice on Gismo’s health.


As I believe in loyalty, I did not require John’s professional services for a while. However, one day my own Shihtzu named Larry Murphy, got himself into a spot of bother – I had gone to a wedding and arranged, as would be usual, for someone else to feed Larry. The following morning, I found Larry very depressed.


Now, Larry had a full length Shihtzu coat and, upon examining him, I found that circulation of blood to his penis had been cut off and the member was black and looked like it had progressed to gangrene. Seemingly Larry had tried to mate a bitch and a long hair had caused a stricture around his penis.


I rang my regular vet but he was not available.  In desperation, I thought of Gismo’s vet, John. Actually the sight of poor Larry’s condition was making me physically sick. I rang John and arranged an immediate visit. John told me the prognosis. I had feared the worst, but John said to give Larry a chance and he would keep me posted. So when the phone rang, I obviously thought it would be bad news. However, John told me that he has operated on Larry and had managed to rearrange the water works and expected a good recovery.


Larry made an excellent recovery and loved doing his party-piece – now Larry’s reconstruction made him look like any other male dog. However, the difference was when Larry urinated it came from behind, catching a person unaware when he cocked his leg. Larry died last year aged 11.


Over the last 6 six years, John has looked after many animals for us but he surpassed himself last Tuesday week, 16th September 2003, making it impossible not to relate these 3 instances of Gismo, Larry and Annabelle. Now Annabelle is a 70 kg, 3r old St. Bernard. On her 63rd day of pregnancy she was very heavy in pup but still very healthy.


On September 16th the following day she appeared to go into labour, early in the day. By 6pm she had produced nothing, so I decided to take her in to see John. By the time John examined her, it was 7 pm. She seemed to be showing signs of shock. It was decided to intervene as leaving it to nature was not an option. Because of Annabelle’s size and condition it was agreed that John would need a team of six people if we were to save the lady and her puppies – there was John, his assistant Barbara Fleming, his two vet nurses, Gillian Whyte and Theresa Riordan and Michael and myself.


John’s professional and unflappable handling of the event was outstanding. He led his team with resolve and assurance. The task was gigantic. Michael and I assisted as best we could, cleaning and drying puppies that seemed to be coming faster than we could cope with. Nine puppies are now doing very well.

I must also tell you that this all happened between 8 pm and 10.30 pm, a lot of work after a normal day’s toil. Annabelle has fully recovered and is happily feeding her large family, all thanks to John’s expertise. Although she had no milk in the beginning she is now a virtual ‘Milk Bar’.


Having related these case histories, and there are many more, I really do believe that John O’ Mahony has consistently stood the test of time and continues to do so in a professional way. The consistently good intelligent use of his training truly merits this Award being conveyed to John O’ Mahony. After all, on September 16th, we saw it with our own eyes!


Slainte to John and all his practice.

=== END OF ENTRY ===


Lady from Currabinny
Pet Info: Dog and cat – Poppy and Smudge. Aged 9 and 7 years.


Reason for nomination:

I would like to nominate my vet because of the standard of care, courtesy and concern they show no matter how large or trivial my problem. I have attended the practice for many years with various pets in need of care.


When my old dog had to be put down, the question asked ‘was I ready?’ and the day after the event John rang to ask how I was and to assure me I had done the ‘right thing’ as the dog was ‘ready’.

That is the kind of man he is – he looks after the owners as well as their pets and fully understands our feelings and concerns. Barbara has now joined the practice and is equally caring and always ready to listen.


As for his veterinary nurses, I presume John and Barbara’s caring attitude must rub off on them as they always have time to listen, sympathise, laugh, dispense medicines and advise. The practice is spotlessly clean and welcoming, the sort of place where you can have a nice chat with other people while you wait. I cannot recommend them highly enough.























Shane Guerin, Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital, 38 Gilabbey Street, Cork


3rd Prize 2003 Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Awards


Entrant Contact Info:  Lady from Cobh
Pet Info:   Name of pet(s):PUTTY    Type of pet:Dog         Age of pet(s):4/5 Months
Reason for Nomination:

The Vets at Gilabbey veterinary surgery have always looked after our pets with the utmost of patience, kindness and the best of veterinary care. We have had numerous dogs ranging from St. Bernard’s to smaller breeds.  The story I want to share with you is about our smallest dog, who came to us about 4 months ago via The Animals Home. Her name is Putty, she is a scally wag but is truly beautiful from the inside out, and the incredible care she received from Shane Guerin of the above mentioned clinic.
On Friday last, 12/9/2003, my son noticed that Putty was poorly in the afternoon, so we whisked her off to the vet at the earliest opportunity, early evening. She had been vomiting and was really, really ill. The vet informed us that she could have the dreaded Parvo Virus and gave us instructions as how best to help her but cautioning us that she was very ill. The vet scheduled a further appointment for us the following morning and suggested that if we needed him during the night all we had to do was call.


We went back the following morning for more treatement (Saturday morning) and although the surgery was closed on Saturday evening, he opened up specially for us so as she could received further monitoring and treatment. During the day Shane also called my mobile to see how she was doing, he still was not sure how things would go. Following on from Saturday evening’s appointment, he scheduled a further one for Sunday morning, again opening specially for us.


With the expert veterniary care and monitoring she received, by Sunday she had turned the corner and was slightly on the mend. Shane was in constant telephone contact with us in case that she would get any bad turns etc and was willing to open again for us on Sunday evening of the need arose. Thankfully during Sunday, there was a great improvement in her and we did not need to re-visit the surgery. Today, is only Tuesday, and I am happy to relate the old Scallywag is now tearing around the house, almost back to normal, still on her medication and is due a further visit to Shane on Tuesday.
I really think that Shane Guerin and his team deserve recognition for their incredible work on Putty….. Shane mentioned that when he saw her first she only had a one in ten chance of survival…. you would not think that today, but if it had not been for his diligance in guiding me through what was to be done and his tireless opening of the surgery outside of the regular hours, my story would not have had such a happy ending.     Shane and the team deserve an award for their immense compassion and thorough professionalism in dealing with my old scallywag “Putty”.




Lady from Athenry,Co. Galway

Pet Info: Dogs – Petal, Shadow, Flake, Dilinger and Charlie. Aged 5 months – 2 years.


Reason for nomination:

I would like to nominate my vet Shane Guerin for a number of reasons:

1.        His outstanding ability as an orthopaedic surgeon. Since last April I have taken five greyhounds to Shane suffering from various fractures and injuries. To give just one example – ‘Petal’ a then five month old greyhound puppy sustained a fracture to her tibia while playing with her litter comrades. Shave inserted a plate and 12 inch screws in her bone, which he later removed. Petal has made a wonderful recovery – as a direct result of Shane’s skill and dedication, she can look forward to a racing career which otherwise would have been impossible.

2.        His professionalism. This is evidenced by the thorough briefings he gives both before and after performing a procedure on my dogs. He explains in detail both the x-rays and what he perceived the problem to be, he outlines the various options available including the merits and otherwise of each course of action and finally he gives his opinion on the best way to proceed in each situation, while leaving the final decision to myself. Likewise following a procedure he gives a thorough account of how the surgery went often using the before and after x-rays for comparison purposes.

3.        His dedication. Each visit to Shane involves a 250 mile round trip on my part and over the past 5 months I have attended Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital on 11 occasions. One would be forgiven for thinking that the distance between the patient and vet would have a negative impact on the after-care of the dogs. However, this is certainly not the case, because Shane devises a minute after-care schedule for each dog including weekly phone calls with progress up-dates. His delight when things are progressing well is obvious, as is his genuine concern whenever something may be amiss. His enthusiasm is an inspiration to give each dog the best possible after-care. He has provided his mobile phone number for contact outside normal hours if I have any concerns about any of the dogs. I have phoned him over the bank holidays and late in the evenings and he has always responded in a positive and friendly manner with excellent advice.

4.        His caring approach. Shane is a very open and approachable person, his consultation sessions are generally happy up-beat occasions, however, when he has to impart bad news which has happened to me recently with my dog ‘Shadow’, he did it in a most kind and considerate manner which helped to reduce the pain. Most greyhounds are a little shy with strangers because they generally do not get an opportunity to mix  freely with many people. So when my dogs visit Shane I expect them to be wary and a little frightened as they generally are with strangers. However, following the initial consultation I am always amazed to see them walk off happily with Shane, showing that they instinctively trust him and sense his kind and caring personality.

5.        These are just a sample of the reasons why I wish to nominate Shane Guerin for this award, he may not be my “local” vet but he is certainly my vet and thoroughly deserves recognition.




Lady from Ballincollig

Pet Info: Golden Retrievers – Jake (RIP) and Cody (10 months).


Reason for nomination:

I would like to nominate my vet Mr. Shane Guerin. WHY?, because of your leaflet, Care…, Professionalism…, Humour…, COMPASSION…, especially compassion (I’m not saying he doesn’t have the other qualities!!!)


My family’s second encounter with Shane was almost 3 years ago, our beloved family pet, a beautiful Golden Retriever, Jake, ran out as a car was backing out, rolling over his back paw, Jake pulled back straight away pulling skin from bone. Shane was the vet we saw, our 2 sons who are 9 and 6 now were distraught. I was no better, my husband pretended not to be. I often wondered looking back did Shane ever wonder which one was his patient!!! The paw was treatable, the problem was Jake was 10 and a problem with anaesthetic. No matter how much we rambled, how much silly questions we asked, how many times we asked the same question, Shane never once failed to reassure us and never did we once feel he didn’t have the time for us. COMPASSION. Jake came through with flying colours, we the family for the first time ever, realised he was getting old.


My family’s second encounter with Shane (by now you think he would have said he had changed profession when he heard our name)!!! COMPASSION, was when we found a stray or rather it found us, a lovely German Shepherd, a big dog and a She, making things very lively at home with Jake!!! Even though I’m scared of this breed, after she followed us you could see she had a lovely nature and had been abandoned. She was given the name Sammy by my boys. After, trying all the usual avenues, we could not locate the owner, or a new owner . We called on Shane – just dropped in and straight away he told us to bring the dog down to him. COMPASSION, in between saying hello to us the lads and Jake!!! – checked the dog Sammy out and said he would try and look out for a new owner for us. He did, a widow on a 300 acre farm who had to put down her own German Shepherd of 15 years.


Shane met us on a Sunday, took the dog from us and delivered her to her new owner, with details about us. This lady has been in contact with us on a regular basis to let us know how the dog is getting on. This was done on Shane’s own time, because he really has COMPASSION, for animals and I suppose after encountering us COMPASSION for people as well!!!


My family’s next encounter with Shane was when I noticed I though Jake was acting as if he was drunk!!! But he wasn’t, 3 weeks after we brought him to Shane, he was gone after all the tests, etc. – brain tumour. I will never forget Shane and the Gilabbey staff for their kindness, in all our upset, and the dignity and COMPASSION that was shown, and the lovely card that was sent after, it was such a COMPASSIONATE gesture and it hangs on the fridge door. I have rang Shane since about Jake and he showed so much that he knew how it felt to lose a family pet – COMPASSION—My husband got Jake for our first wedding anniversary, our 13th is on the 19th of this month and guess what we got?


My family’s next encounter with Shane was this morning, when I brought our 10 week old Golden Retriever named Cody in to surgery for his shots, as before, Shane was the caring, professional, and compassionate vet, oh I left out humour which he definitely has to deal with our family encounters!!!




Brayvet Animal Hospital, Old Conna Avenue, Bray, Co. Wicklow  01-2821909

Judge’s Award: Veterinary Practice Excellence

2003 Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Awards


Gentleman from Annamoe, Co Wicklow  Pet Info:   Name of pet(s):Minou   Type of pet:Cat  Age of pet(s):6+ 1/2

Reason for Nomination:

Minou (pronounced “mee-nooh”) is a very special cat, an all-white short-hair that my partner, Pascale, spotted by the roadside near Skibbereen six years ago. Being French, she insisted on a French name for him, which roughly means “cute pussy cat”. He is an intelligent and sociable cat and has had a few scrapes, which resulted in visits to the vet, but in June 2003 he appeared to be straining on the litter tray and was in obvious pain.


Our local vet Dr. Ralf Siedewitz examined him on Sunday afternoon and gave Minou anti-inflammatory and anti-biotic injections to see if this would ease the painful cystitis. However, that night the situation became critical and it was back to the vet next morning for an emergency operation. He removed the bladder stones which had completely “blocked”  Minou preventing him from urinating but could not clear the urethral passage, a life-threatening complication which could require drastic surgery. Without delay he took Minou to Brayvet Pet Hospital where Dr. Nicola Neumann had the facilities and expertise to deal with this eventuality.

Nicola operated immediately on Minou even though at 7 p.m. it was well past her normal working hours and she called us that night to tell us that all was well, although the prognosis was poor owing to the condition of Minou’s bladder, the effects of two major operations and the double dose of anaesthesia.


During the following days Minou seemed stable and Nicola encouraged us to visit him in the surgical ward and cheer him up. We found the Brayvet team very kind and understanding and they took everything as seriously as if Minou and their other charges were human patients. The urinalysis and blood potassium results were explained to us as we watched poor Minou hooked up to a drip, a urinary catheter in place and wearing an “Elizabethan” collar around his neck to stop him from any mischief.

Five days later – another emergency! Minou’s bladder, weakened from the stones and the surgery had sprung a leak, releasing urine into his abdominal cavity. His blood potassium soared to danger levels and his kidneys and heart were endangered. Nicola gravely explained this latest setback and prepared us for the decision we had feared most, the choice of another major operation or euthanasia.


She discussed the cost of the treatment so far (we did not have pet insurance at the time) and the high risk of the operation which would have to be performed immediately as otherwise Minou would die within hours. She even promised to significantly reduce the cost of this operation as she was aware of all the expense we had already incurred. In fact, there really was no decision as we had already decided to give Minou every chance at life, even if slim. A few hours later, Nicola rang again to say that Minou had survived surgery and was already waking up!

The following Tuesday we went to collect Minou for his post-operative recuperation, catheter and collar in place, marching stiffly like a little wind-up toy. What did we see but little red and blue socks on his front paws where the drips had been, making the French colours with his white fur – a little joke of Nicola’s who had obviously taken a shine to him!


There followed ten days of home nursing until, seeing his opportunity while his collar was off, he pulled out the catheter tube, leaving the cannula still sutured in place! Back to Brayvet where Nicola kept him in for observation, and two days later he got the all-clear as he was urinating normally at last. He seemed reluctant to leave Nicola and her team of wonderful veterinary nurses who had made such a fuss of him. Home was almost boring by comparison!

When we returned to Brayvet for the final check-up, Nicola was delighted to see him so well after what he had been through. Like a true professional, she insisted in bringing in her nurses to see him and share in the pleasure of a difficult job well done and with such a happy ending. Minou seemed among friends, tail up, and not making strange at all, a powerful endorsement of the professionalism and care which he had experienced.

We highly commend Nicola and her colleagues and nursing team at Brayvet for their care, compassion and thorough professionalism as they restored our Minou back to health, not to mention her good humour when the dangers were past, like the red and blue socks….!   We are also grateful to Ralf for his prompt action in referring Minou to Brayvet when complications developed, thereby avoiding kidney damage which would have sealed his fate.



Family from Bray, Co. Wicklow

Pet Info: Non-Pedigree rescued dog – Holly (4 ½ years).


Reason for nomination:

I would like to nominate my vet because he has all the following qualities: –

  • Compassion
  • He is completely professional and sensible of the treatment of animals and he is aware of when kindness can become cruelty.
  • He has principle and integrity.
  • He has an important role in the community and participates in the community.
  • He is a model and gives tremendous example for other people in the treatment of animals.
  • He has superb patience, is gentle with animals and gentle with people – emotions are very raw for people when a beloved pet has to be put to sleep.
  • He is fully up to date with modern veterinary practices.
  • He is extremely good at dealing with the different impressions people have of animals and the role they play.
  • He stands fast against cruelty to animals.
  • He is fully aware of how animals are treated in the world today and what changes need to be made.


He treated our last dog “Muffi” over a number of years. Muffi had a number of very serious ailments and Andrew was unfailingly thoughtful and good in looking after him. When he had to have serious dental work, Andrew got an expert to deal with him. He extended Muffi’s life by many years and when the time came that there was no alternative, he put Muffi to sleep gently and compassionately and showed us the same gentleness and compassion and helped us in our grief.


We now have a rescued dog “Holly” – we do not know what she went through before we got her but she is terrified of men. She had to have major surgery a few months ago but she is always happy to let Andrew treat her and wags her tail non-stop for him.


She responded marvellously to the surgery he performed on her and is now one very happy dog.

His commitment to his job is far and above what one would expect and we feel very privileged to have such a wonderful vet.


Lady from Bray
Pet Info: Golden Retreiver – Flash. Aged 3.


Reason for nomination:

Flash has had numerous problems (he is a bit accident prone). And the care he has had has been fantastic, also it is so pleasant at the hospital. He looks forward to his visits.


He has a history of being accident prone, so needs lots of visits – and deserves the de-lux care he is given. On one occasion, we had to be seen at 1 am and the emergency team were so kind and caring it was a pleasure to do business with them.   I can only say that I have never had such good pet care and personal attention. Definitely, Pete should have the weekend away himself!


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Lady from Killiney

Pet Info: Zak and Picassa, dog and cat. Aged 7 and 12.


Reason for nomination:

I would like to nominate my vet, because he is always kind and considerate.

There was a particular time when I had to have another dog (Tony) put down as she got very sick, very quickly with cancer. Pete came to the house to put her to sleep, which he did so kindly  then he carried her out to his van. He then came back into the house for a cup of coffee and to make sure my daughter and I were OK. My husband had died the previous year, so it was a very traumatic time for us. A few weeks later he sent me a lovely card.   I hope he wins.





Liam Guerin, Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital, 38 Gilabbey Street, Cork


Special Judge’s Lifetime Achievement Award – Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Awards


Entrant Contact Info: Fota Wildlife Park, Carrigtwohill, Co. Cork.


Pet Info: 90 Species of mammals and birds, mostly wild and various up to 25 years (Sea Eagle).


Nomination for the Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Awards: Liam Guerin, MRCVS


Liam Guerin has been an essential element in the success of Fota Wildlife Park, as the Wildlife Park’s consultant veterinarian. Without his dedication, professionalism and understanding of animal health and welfare over the past 20 years, the animals of the Wildlife Park would have sorely missed his outstanding standards of veterinary care and compassion. Although our animals are not truly pets, many of our regular visitors identify strongly with individual animals, for example the ring-tailed lemurs or our common seal Elvis.


Liam Guerin brings to veterinary care in Fota Wildlife Park the high standards he applies to domestic animals of all sizes. At the same time, his enthusiastic, yet cautious, approach to the variety of wild animals he has to treat and advise on ensures that the special needs of all species are recognised. In this way, all animals in Fota Wildlife Park receive his equal attention, from the smallest monkey to the largest giraffe or bison. Indeed, Liam is Europe’s outstanding veterinarian in the care of giraffes and he has few peers world-wide in the handling and treatment of cheetahs. Despite his mature years, Liam is undiminished in his ability in the difficult business if safely immobilising a giraffe, treating it, and getting it safely back on to its feet.


The veterinary care of individual species of wild animals is not always well known and expertise if often dispersed in different countries. We have always benefited from Liam’s enthusiastic and conscientious communication with colleagues in many countries, in order to be sure he has the best advice on an aspect that he is unsure of. He has attended conferences with wildlife veterinarians in order to add to and consolidate his network of colleagues, and he consumes a great deal of technical literature in his pursuit of understanding and the ideal treatment.


In the case of most people, it would be sufficient to stop here. However, Liam’s contribution as a veterinarian also extends into his very positive relationships with clients and colleagues. He is a tremendous leader of people, in which leadership by example is his rule. He applies an iron discipline and boundless energy to his own work, and to the involvement of his colleagues. At all times he relays his advice in the interests of the animals in his care, never shirking the unpleasant or unpopular details, but always compassionate to both animal and man.


At Fota Wildlife Park we have benefited enormously from Liam’s advice and encouragement on all aspects of animal husbandry and I feel privileged to be able to acknowledge his contribution in this way.


Neil Stronach





Lady from Bishopstown

Pet Info: In memory of all my dogs.


Reason for nomination:

I would like to nominate my vet Liam A. Guerin on the grounds that for more than three decades, he has played a vital role for me by way of superb care and attention to my various dogs and for always being available whenever required.


I have had Liam Guerin as my vet since the late 1960’s when he operated his practice from a surgery at his family home on the Mallow road in Cork. My dog at that time was a Cocker Spaniel named “Rose” and Liam took great care of her to the ripe old age of 15 years. When her health suddenly deteriorated on a Sunday morning in1977, Liam “put her to sleep” with great sensitivity at his family home in Blarney.


His advice to me was to immediately look for a replacement dog as he knew that I had to fill the terrible void left by her death. Her replacement turned out to be a sweet Golden Cocker named “Kizzy” who joined our household in June 1977. In her latter years she developed lung cancer but due to Liam’s expertise she had a good quality of life until 1992 when Liam advised me that the time had come to let her go. With his usual compassion he “put her to sleep” in March 1992 at the Gilabbey Veterinary Clinic, just short of her 15th birthday. Liam again encouraged me to get a replacement and I have no doubt that, without this encouragement, “Buttons” would never have become a family member!


“Buttons” was a cavalier King Charles Spaniel with impeccable manners and he bonded completely with Liam. During a routine check-up when “Buttons” was a year old- Liam suspected that “Buttons”  had a heart problem. This diagnosis was based on Liam’s years of experience and the subsequent ECG confirmed that there was a faulty valve in the heart. From then on “Buttons” was put on medication and was monitored on a regular basis. Such was the trust between dog and vet that “Buttons” used to sit motionless on the surgery table while Liam listened to the heartbeat.


This incredible co-operation was often a source of amazement to student vets attending the Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital! Because of the early diagnosis and treatment his heart condition was controlled and “Buttons” had a very good quality of life until May 2001 when he developed diabetes.


Liam then put “Buttons” under the care of another vet in the practice – Pat O’ Doherty who specialised in the treatment of diabetes. (The other vets in the Gilabbey Clinic – Shane Guiran and Tom Conway were also so patient when training me on how to administer the daily insulin injections and without their great encouragement I would certainly not have been able to perform this difficult task).


Unfortunately, because of his health problems “Buttons” had to be put down in January 2002. I am however, very grateful that, because of the excellent medical attention, we were able to enjoy this delicate little dog for almost 10 years.


My story must be echoed by countless other clients of the Gilabbey Hospital and now that Liam Guerin is in his “Golden years” I wish to nominate him for the Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Awards 2003 in recognition of the wonderful care and professionalism he has given during his many years in practice.





Pet Info: Dogs and cats.


Reason for nomination:

I, being manager of the CSPCA would like to nominate Liam Guerin of Gilabbey for “Vet of the Year”. In 1995, we the society had many problems particularly with regard to the euthanasia of dogs. Liam Guerin contacted me and offered help in any way possible. From then on we can call on Liam and his colleagues at a moments notice to seek advice or treat an animal at the shelter.


I nominate him also for his professionalism and the compassion he shows when dealing with the animals and particularly the owners. If he treats a dog or animal from the shelter he will follow up with queries on its condition. We deal with many elderly people and send them to visit Liam Guerin in his surgery. Always they are very impressed with his lovely caring manner, his sympathy in their plight and great compassion for their beloved pet.


He encourages people to neuter/spray their pets and was very much to the fore in helping to launch the National Spray Week, which started last year. Recently we renovated the premises and Liam advised us on kennelling and segregating of sick animals. He takes great pride in his work and the Society is very grateful to him and his compassionate care of stray and unwanted animals.




Dairy farmer, Glanmire, Co Cork


Reason for nomination:

Our vet has been attending sick animals on our dairy farm for over 40 years. Whilst I appreciate this award may have to do with vets in the care of pets, I too would like to put on records that the care and professionalism of our vet towards our Dairy herd is important to me and my father who dealt with Mr. Guerin before I.


It is not one particular issue or deed that would that would prompt me to nominate my vet but indeed the absolute commitment he has given our dairy farm for 40 years. If there is a problem and he can’t find the answer, he will research the issue and try to get to the root of the problem. He is always willing to be informative about any procedure or treatment he would be administrating. Bad humour never featured in over 40 years service.


Courtesy to my mother in years gone by and my wife in more recent years is the hallmark of this gentleman. Whether it was dealing with an outbreak of TB in the herd in the 70’s or dealing with pneumonia in the 90’s,he always had our best interests at heart. If nobody else nominates our vet,. that’s ok, but at least I feel happy that I have acknowledged the care, professionalism and enthusiasm of our vet in his long association with our Dairy Farm.




Dairy farmer, Whitechurch, Co Cork


Reason for nomination:


I would like to show my appreciation of a lifetime of dedication to his work and practice by nominating Liam for this award. Our family owns and managed a dairy farm near Cork City and Liam and his colleagues have provided our Veterinary Service for 40 years.


All of our animals are pets to us and each one of them bears a sentimental as well as a commercial value. In the 40 years that Liam has been coming to Lisduff, I always felt that each animal was treated as if it was unique and that it was very important to him for that animal to make a full recovery. Over those years, many emergency calls have been made in the dead of the night and every one was responded to immediately and without complaint. There were occasional worrying situations over the years where the health of the whole herd was under threat but Liam always did what he could to allay fears and offered the best advice in every situation.


I bought SASHA, now a huge 10 year old Holstein Cow, in Canada in 1995. She has produced a lot of very valuable offspring and is regarded as a member of the family. In October of 1997, Sasha contracted pneumonia and was very ill. Thanks to Liam’s twice daily visits and his excellent care, she made a full recovery and has continued to give us great enjoyment and satisfaction since.


I believe that his partners in the practice and the staff in the Clinic are a reflection on the man also. The tradition of excellence that he started is very ably maintained by his partners. I would like to mention the Staff members: Marie, Mairead, Sinead and Gus, whose helpful and courteous manner coupled with the efficient manner with which everything is dealt with makes everything easier for me. I am very fortunate to have known and worked with Liam and am delighted to nominate him for this award.