Treating everything from an anorexic cheetah from Fota Wildlife Park to a much-loved family pet, at Gilabbey Veterinary Hospital every day is a new challenge.
But little did its founder, Liam Guerin, 86, realise when he founded the practice in 1957 that it would be featured in Pet Surgeons, a new TV series that airs on RTÉ One next month.
In the six-part series, GMarsh TV, makers of Vets on Call, go behind the scenes of the practice based at Vicars Road, Togher, Cork.
Viewers can watch the vets use state of the art technology to perform complicated operations, repair fractures and apply the latest treatments.
Among the patients in need of tender loving care is a tiny Japanese chin dog with a fractured spine, and an anorexic cheetah from Fota Wildlife Park.
The cameras will focus on some of the most demanding surgical procedures undertaken by some of the 10 vets who work at the centre.
Each story is told from the perspective of both the owners and the veterinary staff and viewers will see the animals in their homes before and after treatment.
Vet Shane Guerin runs the practice that started with a team of four — it now has 30 and his father comes in now and again to see how they are all getting on.
“Dad came in three months ago to see us — he wanted to scrub up and watch me perform a surgical procedure on his dog — a female German shepard who had a torn cruciate ligament — a very common knee injury in humans as well as dogs,” said Mr Guerin.
“We went through the procedure together. Dad is keen to keep up to date with the latest surgical techniques so it was an ideal opportunity for him.”
Shane said the programme-makers approached some veterinary practices, spending some hours in each of them. “They were with us for a day and felt there would be enough cases and people to make an exciting series.”
Shane said for him, personally, treating the Japenese Chin dog was one of the series’ highlights because it was very challenging surgery. “He was a little puppy, four months old, playing with his brother at home and they crashed into each other.
“The dog had been born with a weakness in his neck — he had a potential to break his neck so crashing into his brother exacerbated the problem. We needed to put little screws in his neck —that was quite challenging because he was such a small dog. But it was also a lot of fun watching him recover.”
Shane said people wanted to give their pets the best care possible and were prepared to pay for it. “We are a caring profession, and if someone provides us with a hard luck story, we will negotiate on a price and carry out the procedure. It is an engaging series because it lets viewers see how we cope with the pressures of dealing with pets and people.”
The practice always has stray animals coming in and tries to rehome them — photos of the animals are put up on its Facebook page.
“I have three dogs — a black Labrador, two Jack Russell terriers and a cat. They are all rescued animals. They all live in the kitchen and sleep together. The cat is hilarious — she just waltzes past the dogs. The two jack russels chase every cat in the garden, but they just looked at each other when my cat arrived and thought better of chasing her.”
- Pet Surgeons begins on September 6 on RTÉ One