2004 Winners








“His commitment to animals is far and above what is expected….he is truly a wonderful vet…” – the words of pet owner Peggy Dalton from Vevay Road, Bray, Co.Wicklow, in part of her nomination for the vet who has won a national Irish award programme.


The overall winner of the 2004 Stronghold Veterinary Pet Care Awards is Andrew Byrne, from BrayVet Animal Hospital on the Old Conna Road, Bray, Co. Wicklow.  Andrew was presented with the Stronghold Perpetual trophy and a prize valued at €2,000 at the awards ceremony in Citywest in Dublin today (Sunday 28th November, 2004).


Pet owner Peggy Dalton and her husband Donal have been client’s of Andrew Byrne’s for 16 years.  In his winning nomination, Andrew Byrne is commended for being unfailingly thoughtful and helpful, “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 understanding, kind and helps people to go forward.”   The nomination tells of a person of principle and integrity and a complete professional, fully up to date with modern veterinary practices, who stands fast against cruelty to animals.  “He gives tremendous example to people on the treatment of animals and is a wonderful role model for children.”


The Daltons wrote about their current pet dog Holly who is afraid of men, but who has been won over by Andrew Byrne.   They also described the treatment and care of their last dog, Muffi – saying that when the time came there was no alternative, he (Andrew) put Muffi to sleep gently and compassionately and showed them the same kindness.


Second place in the national awards goes to Annette Quegan, from Barrowside Veterinary Hospital in New Ross & The Pet Vet, Kerlogue Business Park, Wexford Town.  Annette was the winner of the national Stronghold title in 2003 and came 2nd previously in 2002.   She received a number of nominations, including one from a pensioner originally from Wales,  whose much loved cat was hit by a car and her owner did not think she would survive.


The third overall prize is awarded to Dublin vet Ciara Feeney, from the Animal Clinic on the River Road in Castleknock and Phoenix Park Gate Clinic on the North Circular Road.  Her nominations ranged from the story of a 3 month old puppy who was hit by a car on Christmas eve and was “in a very bad way.”   Ciara responded swiftly, managed an emergency amputation of one of the puppy’s legs and brought the puppy home to care for it over Christmas.  Another lady wrote about her dog’s life being saved.   She tells how she returned home one evening to see her dog with “froth” coming from her  mouth…..We called her into the house and she staggered in the door and collapsed as if she was dead…..  Ciara immediately suspected that the dog might have had access to slug pellets and responded very swiftly, despite the fact that it was midnight.


Because of the consistently high standards of veterinary professionalism and care across its entire team, including vets Liam Guerin, Shane Guerin, Tom Conway, Pat Doherty and their colleagues, the judges presented a Veterinary Practice Excellence Award to Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital, based on the Vicars Road in Cork City.


For instance a client of Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital wrote about the skill, commitment, good-humour, compassion, professionalism and excellent care dispensed effortlessly on a daily basis… A story told about the “surgical magic” performed on a dog called Petal, now beginning what they say will hopefully be a long and happy career as a racing greyhound…


5th Year

Organised by Pfizer Animal Health, in association with the Irish Veterinary Journal, this is the 5th Year of the annual award programme.  This year there were nominating stories about rabbits, birds, guinea pigs and ferrets.   In fact, the owners of over 507 dogs, 360 cats and various other pets and animals (ranging from horses and hamsters to an Australian Bearded Dragon), submitted nominations for the 2004  Stronghold Awards.


In addition to those pet owners, numerous nominations were also received from animal welfare and rescue groups ranging from the Irish Blue Cross or Cat Action Trust; to the Irish Seal Sanctuary  or Leitrim Animal Welfare; and including many of the hardworking SPCA organisations throughout the country.


Speaking at the awards ceremony, organiser Brian More O’Ferrall from Pfizer Animal Health said that the Awards played a valuable role in highlighting the range of veterinary services that can be necessary and promoting the all important message that pet ownership must be taken responsibly.


“However within the nominating stories there is a tremendous sense of appreciation from pet owners and members of the public for the high standards of veterinary care provided – clearly Irish vets have a lot to be proud of,” said Brian More O’Ferrall.


At the 2004 Stronghold Awards Ceremony, a number of vets were also Highly Commended by the judging panel.   These were:

  • Michael McCahill, Allcare Veterinary Practice, Walkinstown Road, Dublin 12
  • Barbara Fleming, Animal Care Hospital, Douglas, Cork
  • John O’Mahony, also Animal Care Hospital, Douglas, Cork  (previously overall national winner of the Stronghold Awards in 2002, and placed 2nd in 2003).
  • Ronan Curran,  Animal Hospital, Moneen, Castlebar, Co. Mayo
  • Aidan Miller, Ark Veterinary Clinic, St. Mary’s Road, Galway.
  • Bairbre O’ Malley, Bairbre O’Malley Veterinary Hospital, Kilmantan Place, Bray, Co. Wicklow
  • Michael Woods, Primrose Hill Veterinary Hospital, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin
  • Tom Rennick, Thomas Rennick Veterinary, Tuam, Co. Galway ( Tom
    won 3rd prize overall in the year 2000, 2nd prize overall in the 2001 Stronghold Awards and was also highly commended in 2002 and 2003)
  • Richard Healy, Westside Veterinary, Model Farm Road in Cork
  • PJ O’Driscoll, Summerhill Veterinary Centre, Summerhill, Ennis, Co Clare


Members of the public can see sample nominations and stories submitted for the 2004 Stronghold Awards on-line at www.progresspr.ie/petcare.htm



Date:    Sunday 28th November, 2004

Issued by:        Antonina Ni Dhuinn, Progress Communications

01-2766117 /info@progresspr.ie






Veterinarian Nominated:

Andrew Byrne, BrayVet Animal Hospital, Old Conna Ave, Bray, Co. Wicklow   tel 01-2821909


Reason for Nomination:

We would like to nominate our vet, Andrew Byrne, from the Veterinary Pet Care Awards 2004 for the following reasons –


Andrew has been our vet for 16 years.


Our dog, Holly, has always been afraid of men but she loves Andrew and last week when she was with him, she kept giving him the paw in the hope he would get down beside her and  give her a rub.


He is extremely good at diagnosis – last year Holly had to be operated on for cruciate ligaments.  Andrew said it would take 6 months to get her completely well again and it was six months almost to the day when she was able to play ball again.


He has 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 and participates in the community
  • He gives tremendous example to people in the treatment of animals and is a wonderful role model for children
  • 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 understanding, kind and helps people to go forward.
  • 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 changes need to be made



He treated our last dog Muffi over a number of years.  Muffi had many serious ailments and Andrew was unfailingly thoughtful and helpful in looking after him.   When he had to have serious dental work, Andrew got his taken care of.  He extended Muffi’s life by many years and when the time came there was no alternative, he put Muffi to sleep gently and compassionately and showed us the same kindness – his goodness to Muffi and ourselves helped us greatly in our grief.


We wish to nominate him for this Award because his commitment to animals is far and above what is expected.  We feel he deserves this Award because he is truly a wonderful vet.




Veterinarians Nominated:

Entire Practice of Brayvet Animal Hospital Old Conna Avenue, Bray, Co. Wicklow

Tel: 01-2821909


Reason for Nomination:

I would like to nominate the entire practice of Brayvet who have looked after my dog, Shelley, with such loving care for the past nine years.


Shelley, now thirteen, has suffered over the years with a wide variety of complaints – some chronic – so, we have both been frequent visitors to BrayVet where we feel very much at home.  Shelley is well known to every member of the staff – from the receptionists through to all the vets, not to mention the resident cats.


The reception area is wonderful where clients intermingle constantly with staff members, who while passing through, are never in a rush and always have time to gently enquire as to the health of each animal and to have a reassuring chat with its owner.


I think Shelley regards BrayVet as her second home.  She rushes in, tail wagging, extracts pets from all and sundry – staff and clients alike – and then welcomes every newcomer with gusto.


I will not go into the details of Shelley’s various illnesses .  Suffice to say that she has always received top class attention from all the staff who, if requested, will instantly supply additional information down-loaded from the internet.  I really cannot praise BrayVet enough.


Regarding myself, BrayVet has taught me how to manage Shelley’s chronic illnesses.  It took a while but now life is easier for all of us.   With various remedies at hand at home, I can now administer to Shelley with confidence when any minor hiccups arise and, more often than not, succeed in nipping her chronic illnesses in the bud.


Just to add a little footnote:   When my sister died suddenly earlier this year, I was overwhelmed by the kindness and support of the BrayVet staff.


Brayvet is a wonderful example of how a practice should be run and is most deserving of any award that may come its way.  I am privileged to be one of its many clients.







Sample Nominations – 2nd Prize


Veterinarian Nominated:

Annette Quegan, Barrowside Veterinary Hospital, Millbank, Rosbercon, New Ross, Co. Wexford  tel 051-425400 & The Pet Vet, Kerlogue Business Park, Rosslare Road,Wexford


Reason for Nomination:

Pwsan, my cat was hit by a car !  We took her to Annette Quegan;  I did not think that she would survive.  When Annette saw her she wasn’t too hopeful.  She took her in and treated her for shock.  The next morning Annette gave me a ring to let me know how she was.


I thought it would be bad news, but no.   She told me Pwsan had a ruptured diaphragm and a broken pelvis.  Any of the other vets around here would have put her down.  Not Annette.  She said the cat only had a 50:50 chance but she would operate on her.  I could tell from the way she spoke that she was determined to save Pwsan it if was in her power.


A few hours later she rang me to tell me that the operation was a success (I call it a miracle)……Pwsan is now recovered, except for a light limp, which goes worse when she wants sympathy or if I tell her off.


Annette kept her in for 10 days, and during this time kept in touch to report on her progress.  Annette said that the only problem she had was that the cat only understands Welsh, so she had a few problems in communication.


Another thing that I don’t think Annette wants anyone to know is that as she knew that I was a pensioner, the bill was made extremely reasonable.  She knows that Pwsan was a much loved cat both by me and my neighbours.  The neighbours were very concerned about her and during her recovery brought her tins of salmon, one neighbour brought her some holy water from Lourdes !


We are delighted with Annette and recommend her for the award she fully deserves it.





Veterinarian Nominated:

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

tel 051-425400 & The Pet Vet, Kerlogue Business Park, Rosslare Road,Wexford


Reason for Nomination:

During the 4 years which I have known Annette, she has always shown the utmost care and attention to my animals.  Never showing that she is in a hurry or that she has not got time for them.


Annette showed great skill and concern when my cat had an accident and suffered a deep cut under her chin and a broken jaw bone.  I felt another vet may have suggested putting the cat down as her injuries were so bad.  However Annette operated on her with great success.


Over the years at one time or another whenever the dogs have had a problem from a rash on Wexford’s nose or Alana with a limp, Annette has always considered the best course of action for them.  I thank her and all the staff at Barrowside.




Sample Nominations – 3rd Prize


Veterinarian Nominated:

Ciara Feeney, The Animal Clinic,  Ashton House, River Road, Castleknock, Dublin 15    tel 01-8383003


Reason for Nomination:

She savid my dog’s life.   One evening 19th June 2003, we arrived home from a computer class and went out back to get Dolly’s bowl to give her food.  She was in her house and unusually for her wouldn’t come out.  We looked in and there was “froth” coming from her mouth.


We lifted her out and noticed she was unable to walk.  We called her into the house and she staggered in the door and collapsed as if she was dead.   My husband, daughter and her boyfriend were present and we all got such a terrible fright and needless to say all started crying as we couldn’t understand what happened as Dolly was in great form earlier in the evening.


In a panic, I rang the Animal Clinic.  I didn’t know then they provided a 24 hour service.  I gave my message to some man and he said he would get the vet to ring me back.  Dolly was still lying on the ground and gave a few “jerking” movements.   Vet – Ciara – rang almost immediately and I told her what happened.


She calmly asked me some questions on her symptoms and at first she thought it might be an epileptic seizure.  She advised us turn out lights and talk gently to Dolly.  Then she said by any chance has she had any contact with slug pellets.  I came in and asked my husband had he put down pellets that day and he had put a little powder in bottom of  a tin.  Ciara then said can you bring her in right away – this was about 12 midnight.  She also said bring in the container.


I asked Ciara was this bad and she said yes, but I will do the best I can.  We took the lifeless little bundle in to the surgery and woke up a lot of the residents in the process !  Ciara calmly assessed Dolly and started to work on her right away – she put in a line for a drip, gave her some antidote to the particular ingredient in the pellets and gave her charcoal directly into her stomach which she explained was to bind the poison to the charcoal and keep it from spreading.  I think she also gave her valium.


All this time Dolly still appeared dead to us but Ciara was cool and calm and talked to Dolly.   My husband and I were still extremely upset especially when we thought it was our own fault.  We didn’t think slug pellets are so dangerous to animals and never envisaged Dolly eating them.


Anyway, Ciara said she would admit Dolly for the night and made her a lovely sheepskin bed.  She gently placed her in the bed and told us to go home and she would look after her.  We went home – never slept a wink and waited for the call from Ciara.


At 9am as promised phone rang and I nervously picked up the phone to hear Ciara say there’s a little girl here that wants to go home.  We were so relieved and thankful to Ciara and I am delighted to have the opportunity to tell Pfizer Animal Health my story and nominate the best vet in the world –Ciara Feeney.


Dolly is hale and hearty since T.G. and needless to say we will never again put down slug pellets and would urge your organisation to warn other people on the dangers of same.





Veterinarian Nominated:

Ciara Feeney, Animal Clinic, Ashton House, River Road, Castleknock, Dublin 15

tel 01-8383003


Reason for Nomination:

On Christmas eve 2003, my puppy Coco of just 3 months was hit by a car and was in a very bad way.  I picked him up from the road as the driver was getting out of his car.  He was an elderly man and we were both distressed together.


We phoned Ciara at the Animal Clinic and she said to come straight away (14.00 hours on Christmas eve).  Coco’s rear leg was pumping blood and his tail had been severed by the tyre of the car.  Ciara was waiting at the door of the clinic for us and examined Coco immediately….


Through my tears of anguish, Ciara told me she could not save his leg and would amputate from the hip in order to save his life.  She had tears in her eyes also but assured me that as he was so young, he would live a very normal life and would never remember his fourth leg !  I left Coco there with the promise and assurance that Coco would be fine and Ciara would keep me well informed.


Two hours later, Ciara phoned me to say Coco was coming out of the anaesthetic and the operation was a complete success.  She said she would keep him until St. Stephens’ Day and I could collect him at 10 o clock that day.  But Ciara didn’t leave Coco in the surgery for those two days, she took him home to her house for Christmas !  At 9.00 o clock that night she phoned me again to say Coco was wide awake and looking for his dinner !   But he didn’t get his dinner that night, he went to Ciara’s mother’s house the next day and had his Christmas dinner there.


I collected Coco on St Stephen’s morning from the Animal Clinic.  He was well and happy to see me.  Ciara was fantastic and the level of care and love shown by her was beyond belief.  This is why I am nominating Ciara.





Sample Nomination – Practice Excellence Award



Veterinarian Nominated:
Shane Guerin, Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital, Vicars Road,  Cork.Telephone:0214962799

Reason for Nomination:

How can I best convey the skill, commitment, good-humour, compassion, professionalism and excellent care which Shane Guerin effortlessly dispenses on a daily basis? Each time I call on Shane for assistance he meets the particular challenge.

My latest dog to visit Shane is Ozzie, last June, at 4.5 months old he fractured his Tibia. At the time I thought oh no lightening cannot strike in the same place twice – last year my puppy Petal had suffered a similiar injury – however, this time I did not panic, I knew that Shane had performed surgical magic on Petal and she is now beginning what I hope will be a long and happy career as a racing greyhound. Ozzie has enjoyed a similiar successful outcome.


I was confident that Ozzie’s best chance of fulfilling his destiny to be a champion race dog lay in Shane’s hands.  The plate and screws which he inserted in Ozzie’s leg have completed their job and are removed. He is now 7 months old and has made a brilliant recovery.

It is not just Shane’s outstanding surgical expertise which has prompted me to send this nomination – it is his concern for all my dogs’ welfare, his caring and gentle way with the dogs, his understanding that although they have a racing career which they enjoy – they are also my pets and friends, his willingness to make himself available at all hours to offer assistance and advice, and his constant good humour and patience.

Shane is also committed to educating owners on animal welfare issues. For example, last July he helped to organise and chaired an educational seminar on greyhound injuries and welfare. His motive was to make the public aware of the new information which is available to vets: of the likelihood of a better outcome for many injuries due to new surgery techniques. He gave up his weekend and many working hours putting it together, and the very large attendance enjoyed the benefit of his and his colleagues knowledge and expertise.

Finally, my 12 year old bitch, Florence, Ozzie’s grandmother, recently developed a tumour. Shane gently reminded me that despite my feelings for her I must put her welfare and quality of life first. I knew this deep down, but I did need to be reminded, which Shane did in a most compassionate and caring way. As always, whether the news is good or bad Shane is there to help and support – I rely totally on his judgment.

What can I say about Shane Guerin? He is quite simply the Guardian Angel of all my dogs.

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