It’s all about how they care for Clare

It’s all about how they care for Clare

Clare Vets deliver on the their promise

Veterinary Hospitals Clare Vets takes pride in providing the highest possible standards of care. Their motto is “looking after your pet is what we do best” but office manager Katie Beech knows well it’s a tight, dedicated team with a singular focus that makes sure they deliver on their promises

“Clare Vets has evolved from a two-vet practice on Ballyclare Main Street in 1980, moving site to a purpose-built Hospital on the Ballynure Road in Ballyclare in 1994, adding three branch clinics in Whiteabbey, Cavehill and Carrickfergus. Our current staff consists of 18 vets, 15 nurses and 18 reception/admin teams.

“We are proud to have been accredited by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons. Our main premises in Ballyclare attained Small Animal Hospital Status with General Practice for Farm & Equine, and our Branch Clinics have Core Standards.

“This means that we undergo rigorous inspections and uphold a frequency of standards including hygiene, staff training, equipment and patient care to ensure high standards of care for pets and peace of mind for pet owners.

“Clare Veterinary Group is also a registered training practice for veterinary nursing and has successfully supported many students to train and qualify as Registered Veterinary Nurses.

“The practice strongly encourages continuing professional development, with ongoing staff appraisals and training for all members of the practice.

“Providing good customer and patient care is of the utmost importance to everyone.”

Great facilities

“In Ballyclare we have a well laid out, free parking area with disabled access, four consulting rooms with separate waiting areas for dogs and cats and a quiet consult room for owners to spend time with their pets at times of euthanasia.

“A large waiting room helps nervous animals and we aim to minimise waiting times by providing enough vets during our busy clinics.

“We have two operating theatres where we operate in a sterile environment, with a dedicated nurse monitoring the patient’s anaesthetic.

“Our dental suite is separate from the operating theatres to minimise infections and facilities include ultrasonic scaling, air driven dental equipment and specialised dental x-rays.

“We pride ourselves on the ability to provide “in-house” 24-hour care for large and small animals. Many veterinary practices outsource this service, but we feel we do it  better, with continuity of care with staff and equipment in our Ballyclare Hospital.

“We can provide 24-hour intensive nursing care if your pet requires this and by providing this at our Ballyclare Hospital we have access to all your animals’ records, and the full hospital resources.

“Our 10 registered veterinary nurses offer free of charge nurse clinics and advice for all our clients.

“Our vets consult in the three branch clinics throughout the day and we have a veterinary ambulance that can transfer patients to the hospital for surgery or any further treatment that may be necessary. Our ambulance also gives us the ability to collect and deliver animals from home if need be.”

Diagnosis and surgery

“When it comes to diagnostics we have two endoscopes, both used in the diagnosis of certain conditions, helping us provide the best treatment for your pet.

“Our in-house lab, with top-end machines, allows us to run samples on site. This means we have results for your pet within a few hours, which can be crucial for making a timely diagnosis.

“We also have various ultrasound scanners that are capable of scanning and imaging all abdominal organs as well as the heart. Our small animal machines are used for internal diagnostic scans and our farm animal machines are used for routine pregnancy diagnosis.

“We also provide state of the art digital x-rays meaning our x-rays are instantly processed which again, allows us to provide a timely diagnosis.

“We provide professional physiotherapy for your pet that is carried out at our surgery by Siobhan Menzies and Elsa Izaguirre from Holistic Pet.

“We can repair fractures, ruptured cruciate ligaments, patella luxations etc. on site.

“Wilson Kennedy, one of the founding vets of this practice, specialises in orthopaedic surgery using advanced methods with specialised instruments and equipment and has years of expertise and success in this field.

“Due to the depth of experience and knowledge throughout our vets as well as the facilities, we can offer a range of surgeries in our Ballyclare hospital which include:

  • Soft tissue surgery
  • Abdominal / Thoracic surgery
  • Oncology & Chemotherapy
  • Ophthalmology including eye grafting
  • Biopsies
  • Critical Care & Emergencies
  • Investigations
  • Second Opinion consults & surgery including salivary gland removal, palate surgery, tie-back, thoracotomies.

Farm and equine

“The farm side of our business is always busy with TB tests, sick animals, emergencies, routine surgeries, fertility work and disease prevention.

“Our purpose-built large animal room with a crush, specialist gates and tables enable us to examine your animal in a safe and secure environment. Our crush is flexible which means we can safely examine all areas of the animal. Our facilities allow us to carry out caesarean sections, LDA’s, RDA’s and foot paring clinics.

“We are kept equally busy with our equine clients. Andrew Healy travels the country visiting all his patients, keeping them in good health, bringing his Irish charm wherever he goes!

“We have a purpose-built equine facility with stables, stocks, trot up area and a paddock. This allows us to carry out vettings, x-rays scans and examinations on site. We do have a portable x-ray machine and ultrasound scanner, so if preferred we can do examinations in the yard.

“Our large animal vets are on the road 24 hours a day, providing our own out of hours emergency service with a dedicated team of qualified and caring staff.”

Covid changes

“Covid has had a massive impact on our business. Veterinary is not the type of industry where you can just close your doors – animals still get sick. We have had to find a way to adapt and still provide a service to our clients, whilst also protecting staff – which has been difficult!

“We have made many changes: added protective screens; increased consultation times; reduced the amount of people allowed into the clinics at any one time etc. but ultimately, our main difficulty is that our workload has not lessened, in fact, it seems to have increased.

“Lockdown has brought many more puppies and kittens. People are at home more, so they notice things about their pets they perhaps wouldn’t have done before.

“The demand for consults is higher than before, and that in itself has been very challenging – particularly through periods of furlough and sickness, where our staff levels were much lower than normal.

“We have had to push back vaccinations and routine surgeries, which is not what we want to do, but we must prioritise sick and vulnerable patients. Mostly our clients have been very understanding, but it has not been without challenges.

“It is hard to imagine ever going back to a waiting room full of clients and their pets during a busy clinic. It is not likely that we will ever go back to that – we will always have to be more cautious to help prevent spread of this awful virus. It is all a learning curve, for everyone, and we can only take each day as it comes – we are not over this yet!”

A looming challenge

“Brexit, no doubt, will bring additional challenges. It has definitely brought some supply problems, which is very frustrating, but hopefully that will settle.

“As yet, since people are not allowed to travel, we haven’t had any real issues with pet passports. We are definitely issuing more than before as people are being prepared and are very eager to get travelling again. Once the passport is issued, the rabies vaccine is valid (for most countries) for three years, so gives clients the opportunity to travel further afield than they maybe would have done before. ”

“Staff are well aware of the government guidelines and will continue to advise our clients accordingly.

“We are very proud of how we’ve grown over the years. Quality of care is our passion. We are one of the very few practices in Northern Ireland that provide our own out of hours care for large and small animals, and we believe that’s why we excel.

“We have many staff members who have worked here since leaving school, which is a testament to the work we do here at Clare Vets.

“Our staff have grown with our clients, from them bringing in their six-week puppy, throughout its whole life, to being there to offer comfort when the time comes that they may have to be put to sleep.

“It is so nice for clients to be able to share their experiences with the staff who have been there with them throughout their pet’s life – we get attached to our patients over the years too!

“Losing our pets is heartbreaking. No matter how long you have worked in the profession it never gets any easier. Each client is different in their expectations. Some just want it to be over and out the door, and some are so utterly devastated that they cannot bare to leave.

“It is our job to gauge and provide comfort the best we can. Covid has made this an almost impossible task. As we must limit only one client to the consultation room at a time, this can be devastating to some people, as often, the whole family comes in to say goodbye.

“We can only try our best to let people come in one at a time and say goodbye. We offer private cremation options and each animal has an ink paw print done and posted out to the client to have as a memory.

“We joined IVC in June 2019 which has provided many opportunities for Clare Vet Group. In the future, we plan to modernise our kennels and facilities to maintain our leading standards. We will always strive to excel in the care that we provide to our patients.”