Bill Jubb is a veterinary surgeon who graduated from the University of Queensland 35 years ago. He’s just marked his 10-year anniversary at his Port Macquarie practice.
“I grew up in Brisbane and Warwick, where my family raised beef cattle, and went to school in Toowoomba and Brisbane. We had a black lab, Rick, the perfect dog, who collected the daily paper and never barked … even when the house was burgled! We also had a cat, plenty of farm calves to look after and animals to be nursed back to health such as a calf with a broken leg. I studied Vet Science because I wanted a career working with animals that would allow for variety: government work, small and large animal work, outdoor work. My first job was in a Darwin practice dealing with domestic pets, greyhounds and racehorses, then I worked in central Queensland testing beef cattle. In 1980 I established a vet hospital at Nambucca Heads, a mixed practice with horses, cattle, greyhounds and small animals. Around 1987 we sold that practice and moved to our farm in Queensland where I farmed beef cattle, and emus, in Warwick while doing locums for surrounding vets. We bought Oxley Highway Veterinary Hospital here in 2000. My wife Wendy is my full time bookkeeper and practice manager; our three children finished school here and are now work and study in Newcastle.
I work closely with my highly skilled staff, they’re my most important asset. Initially we treated farm animals along with domestic pets, but now it’s solely domestic pets … some quite exotic, including birds, guinea pigs, rabbits and ferrets. We treat hundreds of native animals; it’s my contribution to a healthier community environment. Port’s native animals are cared for by organisations such as FAWNA and the Koala Hospital. Most vets try to help local charities: I do it through FAWNA and PMAWS (Port’s Animal Welfare Service). I’m happy to help PMAWS’ efforts in caring for and re-homing unwanted pets; they rely solely on donations and fundraising and their ability to stretch a dollar is amazing.
Pets bring joy to people of all ages: it’s accepted pet owners are healthier, happier, live longer and suffer less depression. Pets are used as therapy in hospitals and other institutions. The benefits to children are huge: children who learn to love and care for a pet are thought to treat people in the same manner.
We’ve many difficult cases ranging from advanced tick poisoning and tumours to organ failure, and many joyful successes as well as sad outcomes. A recent difficult case involved a dog eating massive amounts of sand after a bluebottle sting: it took many procedures to remove the ‘beach’ from its stomach. Some of my patients can be aggressive when being examined but we manage to work around this with various techniques and occasionally a sedative. The hours are long: pets don’t always fall ill in office hours so we provide a 24hr emergency service. This aspect of the job is why fewer vets work outside major cities, where after-hours calls are referred to specialist hospitals. I live next to our hospital which makes the task a little easier but still constant. We’ve two dogs of our own, a black labrador and a Jack Russell, a cat and a bird. For relaxation I take any opportunity I can to catch a wave, and enjoy music and travel. Our hospital houses up to 20 animals from day-patients for routine surgery to serious cases needing hospitalisation. We’ve an isolation room for animals with infectious diseases. Our huge backyard’s perfect for walking animals and holds outside kennels for larger breeds with medical conditions.
Due to their short lifespan we often deal with the loss of a much-loved pet. It’s sad as the pet’s vet to have to put to sleep a longstanding patient but I feel they’re lucky to have the option when they’re suffering. It’s a difficult time for owners: there are emotional conversations, tears and sometimes amusing stories that help in the grieving process.
I’ve rarely seen cases of animal cruelty but the images are haunting. Our unusual cases have included treating a Staffordshire bull terrier shot with a crossbow, operating on an egg-bound budgerigar and a guinea pig caesarean … all with happy outcomes! The joyous times are frequent: diagnosing and treating a disease, pinning a broken leg, seeing clients who’ve lost a pet returning with a new pup or kitten. I constantly get a kick out of animals I consider ‘characters’: years ago I regularly treated a diabetic dog that would come bounding into the hospital and jump straight onto the table, ready to be attended to.
There are lighter moments, too … discovering that the cat booked in for a castration is actually female, for instance. Follow-up generally involves a change of the animal’s name.”