Article

Village Vets: Vets sprang into action as households reached for creative comforts 

Article first published in the Business Post on Sunday, 12 September 2021

The pandemic has had a major impact on Village Vets, the family-owned practice led by managing director Charles Cosgrave and one of the new winners in this year’s Best Managed Companies awards programme.

In the thick of the pandemic, the pet population increased by 30 per cent in Ireland as people confined to their homes sought out cats and dogs for comfort and companionship. This meant a heavier workload for veterinary practices, many of which simultaneously grappled with Covid-19 safety protocol and growing pressure to see as many patients as possible.

“The pace of our work has increased. We can’t express how grateful we are to our teams in each of the clinics for the huge effort they have put in and for working through all the lockdowns on the frontline when there was much fear and anxiety about Covid,” Cosgrave said.

Village Vets has come on a long journey since 1980, when Cosgrave’s father Karl bought the first veterinary practice in Dunshaughlin in Co Meath. The catchment was all farming clients around the area.

“He subsequently acquired Cabra and Dunboyne. They were complementary to our geographical footprint and allowed us to grow our vet and nurse teams to share the workload and develop our niche clinical areas and skills,” Cosgrave said.

The practice now has 15 sites in Dublin, Meath and Wicklow, and is owned by Cosgrave and his sister, Julianne, who is also a vet.

Village Vets opened a greenfield site in Beaumont in north Dublin in February 2020 and acquired a veterinary clinic in Kilmainham close to the city centre earlier this year. The company also opened a greenfield site in Tallaght in south Dublin in February and a veterinary clinic in Bray, Co Wicklow.

“By 2022, expansions will be completed at our Dundrum and Sandyford clinics, and a full redevelopment of the Dunshaughlin clinic will be completed,” Cosgrave said.

Village Vets also plans to open new clinics in Rathgar and Castleknock next year. The traditional veterinary practice in which one or two vets in a practice look after every aspect of medicine, surgery, diagnostics etc was not sustainable in the future, said Cosgrave.

“Practices need to have vets who are dedicated to niche areas such as ultrasonography, dentistry, cardiology, surgery, internal medicine etc. We have focused on building this structure over the last ten years.

“This gives our clients a higher level of care for their pets when they need it most. Alternatively, veterinary practices can refer to external referral service providers for these disciplines when they don’t have the skills themselves.

Pet owners want the same level of care for pets as they expect for themselves.” As Cosgrave sees it, the success of Village Vets is largely down to the ‘amazing people’ working in the business.

“We have a wonderful management team led by Zoe Duggan, our chief operations officer, who is incredibly dedicated to the quality care of our team members in equal measure to our patients,” he said.

“We all share the same values and ethos for the practice, our people and our patients. Knowing that we have empowered teams across all the different sites who share the same ethos to care for people’s most treasured possession — their pets — is golden.”

The veterinary and nursing teams at Village Vets have been very open to change and embracing new treatments, diagnostic practices and technology, Cosgrave said.

“We have invested hugely in our teams to have vets and nurses speciality trained in niche areas such as surgery, endoscopy, ultrasonography, ophthalmology, dentistry and internal medicine. This allows us to provide our
patients with a higher level of care and expertise when they need it.

“Continuing education is a big feature for all our teams. It was hard to follow through on this with Covid and we ran the challenge of Zoom fatigue. Hopefully, now, as life creeps back to normal, we can get back to our in-person CPD [continual professional development] and help develop the careers and skills of our teams.”

The company reinvests continually in new facilities and equipment. “We focus on having the best-in-class in equipment and technology,” Cosgrave said.

Last year, Village Vets became the first practice in the world to use the Vetscan Imagyst, which uses artificial intelligence to interpret microscope samples.

“This allowed us to provide our clients with world-class diagnostic technology at the point of care resulting in faster diagnosis of illness and shorter recovery times. We are so proud to be able to offer this to our clients,” Cosgrave
said.

“Maintaining a high level of care for our clients and patients was and always will be a huge priority.”

Being a part of Ireland’s Best Managed Companies awards programme has given Cosgrave and his team a valuable opportunity. “It allows us to learn from other businesses that are best in class and see what they’re doing. We can hopefully bring that into our organisation and improve as a business,” he said.

“Looking at the list of previous winners, it would be great to share ideas with them and learn from their success and also their mistakes.”

This article first featured in the Business Post on Sunday, 12 September.

Applications for next year’s programme will open in January 2022. For more information about the programme, visit our website or email the team at iebmc@deloitte.ie.

Did you find this useful?