VET’S VIEW: While times have changed, the spirit of caring for our animals endures...

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This week sees the start of a new column by Peter Brown, of Northdale Veterinary Practice. A local man, whose family history can be traced back to the 1700s in Worthing, Peter took over the practice 26 years ago. What was a one-man operation is now a thriving six-vet practice.

LAST year, while travelling through Yorkshire, I took the chance to revisit the World of James Herriot.

His tales of life as a rural vet before and after the Second World War captivated us when televised in the 1970s and ’80s, and were what inspired me to become a vet when I discovered them in our local library. It was fascinating to be reminded of what life was like then.

Before the War, treatment of pets was very much an afterthought for vets, whose main work was with horses and farm animals.

The dining room of the vet’s house doubled as a waiting room, while operations were carried out in a scullery and the pharmacy looked like something out of the world of Harry Potter, with its bottles of coloured potions – how things have changed!

Now, pet animals make up the biggest part of vets’ work in the UK, and even the smallest practice boasts sophisticated equipment that James Herriot could never have dreamed of.

Of course, all this progress means more choices are available, and one of the things I have noticed in my career is that my time as a vet is increasingly taken up not only with telling owners what we can do for their pet, but helping them to decide what is the best option, after taking into account all the circumstances. The fact that we can do something doesn’t necessarily mean that we should, and that’s not always easy to know.

So, as we start this series of articles in the Herald & Gazette, I want to share with you information in the form of tips and anecdotes from veterinary practice, which I hope you will find useful.

But, above all, I want to encourage you to get to know your own vet, so that together you can decide what is best for your pets.

And in that sense, however much things might have changed in the last 70 years, the spirit of James Herriot lives on.