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A Dogged Journey Towards Excellence

Nalinika Obeyeskere, BSC, BVSC, MVSC, FSLCVS

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The Start

Three friends and colleagues, a little money, and a lot of imagination led to the launch of Pet Vet Clinic. The first multi-doctor veterinary practice in Sri Lanka and the first owned and managed by women, Pet Vet Clinic opened its doors in 1996. 

The Challenges

Veterinary medicine is considered a second-class profession in Sri Lanka. Many join the profession because they did not qualify to be selected for human medicine, not out of love or concern for animals. Veterinarians depend on human medical drugs, with poor access to needed veterinary products and equipment. There are misconceptions, widespread among the public and accepted even by some veterinarians, that animals do not need sterile surgery or pain medication and that a “good veterinarian” is one who can diagnose and treat a patient without even touching it. Pet Vet is the only practice currently using isoflurane anesthesia (most still use injectables even for long, complex surgeries). It is the only practice willing to euthanize suffering and terminally ill animals.

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The Journey

In the early days, a passion for pets and extensive time spent researching cases resulted in a solid client base. With inadequate space, no management training, and banks unwilling to lend money, the Pet Vet team scrambled to meet the demands of a growing client base and keep up with veterinary standards. They eventually managed to rent a house, hire a team, and grow the practice.

Pet Vet has come a long way. Today, it has a 30-member team, including 10 veterinarians. The practice has an in-house laboratory, a pharmacy, and a surgery suite. Pet Vet offers 24-hour emergency care. 

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None of the veterinarians are specialists, but many challenging cases (eg, severely comminuted fractures involving joints and multiple limbs, serious ophthalmic cases, critical care cases) are referred to the clinic with high expectations. Facing continuous pressure to advance their knowledge, 2 team members enrolled in a distance-education master’s program and partnered with colleagues to establish the Society of Companion Animal Practitioners of Sri Lanka, a WSAVA member organization. 

The Destination

Pet Vet Clinic plans to establish training programs for visiting students from the West, who will learn from a wide range of cases—from hemoparasitic disease to outbreaks of parvo and distemper. Interaction between Sri Lankan and visiting students will enrich both. Pet Vet is preparing to develop into a clinical teaching institute that models international standards, to serve as an example of what is possible for aspiring Sri Lankan veterinarians.

Interaction between Sri Lankan and visiting students will enrich both.

Pet Vet firmly endorses the principle of “one medicine” and promotes the drive towards equality in veterinary standards globally. The team has purchased beautiful land bordering a marshland in the suburbs, with the idea to create an “oasis of quality” and foster a vibrant veterinary profession in Sri Lanka. As in the earliest days of the business, finances are a challenge; however, investors are helping move the dream toward becoming a reality.

Related Article: Ecuavet Veterinary Services in Quito, Ecuador

For global readers, a calculator to convert laboratory values, dosages, and other measurements to SI units can be found here.

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This article is published as part of the Global Edition of Clinician's Brief. Through partnership with the World Small Animal Veterinary Association, the Global Edition provides educational resources to practitioners around the world.

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