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25 years ago three women joined hands to care for pets | Print Edition

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By Kumudini Hettiarachchi

Veterinary surgeon Dr. Nalinika Obeyesekere looks back on Pet Vet’s journey which was both enjoyable and difficult

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Puppy love: Pet Vet in action

The spreading branches of the huge tree that she sees from her living room upstairs are symbolic for her.

It was just a little nuga in a pot (Ficus benjamina) plant 25 years ago, introduced to veterinarian Nalinika Obeyesekere when she and two other like-minded colleagues, but also friends, Dr Janaki Collure and Dr Vipuli Kulasekera, launched ‘Pet Vet’ in a back room from the ground floor of his home.

These are the beginnings – a small business run by all women – the three vets and Nalinika’s housekeeper who β€œloved” helping the animals. It was the first multi-doctor veterinary practice in Sri Lanka to be owned, managed and run by women.

Two twenty and five years later, Pet Vet has grown from a small to medium-sized business, like the branching tree, becoming an important player in the garden off Lauries Road to provide refuge for many. many squirrels and birds. in the heart of Colombo 4.

β€œThis tree is the symbol of our growth – multi-branched and flourishing into an important business,” smiles Nalinika, for whom Pet Vet’s journey has been both β€œpleasant” and β€œdifficult”.

Today, 40 employees, including a good management team, Pet Vet, have moved from the back office to several locations to finally find accommodation for his clinic and hospital near Kirula Road in Narahenpita.

Nalinika at the “symbolic” tree. Photo by Eshan Fernando

As it seeks more international accreditation, last year it was recognized as the first accredited feline practice in South Asia (i.e. a cat-friendly clinic) by the International Society of Feline. Medicine (ISFM), a UK-based organization. by veterinarians who love cats.

The 25th anniversary celebrations, meanwhile, were meaningful – as Pet Vet looked β€œbeyond” his patients and owners.

β€œWe don’t live in isolation but in an environment that is impacted by climate change and pollution,” explains Nalinika.

This is why they decided, as vets, to go beyond their beloved cats and dogs, but to consider the various environmental problems caused by pollution and global warming and headed south. up to Kosgoda beach to engage in a wild program as well as to work hard and pick up. 1,000 pounds of plastic, glass and non-degradable garbage strewn along a two-kilometer beach.

Nalinika says that in coordination with the Sheraton Hotel, whose support they greatly appreciate, they planted 50 native trees in two batches (“because we couldn’t close the clinic”), with the assurance that the hotel will feed them and look after them. This will ensure durability.

β€œBeach clean-up was also an effort for all of us to look inward and be more aware in our personal lives of using non-degradable things. We hope that we can look beyond our own parameters and frameworks and realize that each of us must respect the environment which is vital to our well-being, ”she said.

Thinking back to the early days of Pet Vet, Nalinika remembers the many challenges small entrepreneurs faced: there was no access to finance; no access to legal and administrative advice of any kind; and no access to management skills.

β€œWe need good managers because our knowledge as entrepreneurs is not that good. We have good ideas but no management skills. In the SME sector (small and medium-sized enterprises), we have struggled to grow. At that time, veterinary medicine was considered marginal. Our businesses were marginalized, small-scale clinics, ”she said, adding that now, however, things are looking better.

Happy to have been able to strengthen professionalism, Nalinika says that in those early days, they worked very hard to improve small animal medicine – not only through college, but also β€œa lot” on their own. From the start, Pet Vet has focused on quality and also taught how to raise the standards of vets, nurses and technicians to the next level to provide holistic care to their patients and good advice to owners on how to raise and take care of their pets in the best possible way.

The β€œnicest part” for her and her team is seeing people’s pets from the time they are around six weeks old. β€œWe love them and develop a strong association and bond with them ……… something special from a very young age until they are around 10, 11 or 12 years old, until their old age , All their life. “

Even though Nalinika has treated exotic animals, she tries to discourage the breeding of such animals unless the owners have a special interest and because these animals require special care.

Pet Vet has now ventured into puppy care – teaching puppies how to socialize because puppies learn best between six weeks and four months, when they’re like a sponge, absorbing everything.

She says that if this period is managed well, the rest of their life becomes quite enjoyable, for the owner and the puppy. Handling the puppies also becomes stress free. They will be easy to have at home and easy to take anywhere. When brought to the clinic, veterinarians can provide quality care as they can be well examined without a problem.

β€œIt’s a win-win situation for all three – pet, owner and vet,” says Nalinika, whose passion has always been animal behavior. At the start of her life, she had been discouraged from going this route as many believed that it was not an area where someone could make a living. The management and behavior of the wildlife was a strong draw and she loved whales and dolphins, but unlike today there was no opportunity.

Zero regret, however, she has, for the profession she has chosen but also for having decided to stay in the wonderful Sri Lanka. The way forward for the country is to provide high quality training and care for pets.

Personally, while she still loves whales and dolphins, her personal favorites on land are German Shepherds, even though they are not a healthy breed.

Meanwhile, her current pet, Ginger, a very Sri Lankan breed who not only gave me a warm welcome but also attempted to place a wet kiss on my face when I arrived, is sound asleep on her. own sofa downstairs with her legs up looking in cheerful abandon as I leave.

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