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Recent vet wanted for scenic island living — before the only animal doctors retire

Recent vet wanted for scenic island living — before the only animal doctors retire

When John O’Dell first develop into a vet on Flinders Island greater than two a protracted time ago, his working table used to be from the native sanatorium and his x-ray machine used to be outdated-long-established.

Key aspects:

  • The Tasmanian government has committed almost a million dollars to attend the Flinders Island Council make a purpose-built vet practice and entice a plump-time vet to work there

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  • Two privates vets at the moment work on the island, but every are semi-retired

  • Residents desire the Tasmanian government to reinstate a public service vet to attend the peril future

Twenty-one years on and no longer powerful has changed.

“The [practice] room has about a cupboards, cabinets, a sink and a fridge,” Mr O’Dell said. “And the x-ray machine lives in a shed delivery air.

“It looks broken-down. In actuality, I saw my antiseptic machine, which I brought support in 1999 or 2000, and there’s one in the native museum.”

Dr O’Dell is one in every of two vets on Flinders Island, which has a inhabitants of appropriate over 1,000 folks

The island’s farming sector is its main economy, so animals, every domestic and farm animals, are aplenty but no longer without concerns.

A white-haired man with a magpie on his shoulder.

Vet John O’Dell is now semi-retired but calm works out of the “broken-down” building equipped to him by the government.(

Supplied: John O’Dell


The Tasmanian government has committed to giving $980,000 to the Flinders Island Council to attend it make a purpose-built veterinary practice and provide incentives to gather another private vet to work on the island plump time.

So, why does one little island need more vets?

While the island at the moment has two vets, every are semi-retired, and residents possess started to fright about what the island may presumably presumably be delight in and not utilizing a vet at all.

Scott Anderson is a 2nd-generation Flinders Island farmer and runs crimson meat cattle.

He said most farmers on the island had been OK with having a eye after and caring for farm animals themselves, but it used to be the little animals that almost all wanted a vet.

“A complete lot of the time, or no longer it is the dog that has a mishap or the cat that will get scratched up,” Mr Anderson said. 

A man and woman sit on the front step of their house with their dog near them.

Farmers Scott and Anna Anderson deliver while Flinders Island folk can in total capture care of their farm animals, it is miles the family pets that need consideration.(

Supplied: Sammi Gowthorp


He said residents wanted more lunge in the park round the future of vet services and believed the government wanted to eye at underpinning the role as it had performed in the past — no longer appropriate serving to to recruit a private vet.

“In the past, the island hasn’t been ready to protect a convention, that is why for the past 30 years there used to be a government-assisted vet here and that’s the reason what’s changed.”

A dirt road on Flinders Island at sunset in an undated phot

Peek at the serenity!(

Supplied: Adam Gibson


‘I’ve acquired about a more years left in me’

Vic Epstein moved to the Bass Strait Island in the early 1990s and develop into the 2nd content-appointed veterinary officer — taking on from Mick Middleton, furthermore is named Mick the Vet.

Veterinarian Vic Epstein

Veterinarian Vic Epstein says he has “about a more years left” in him, but a brand new individual will deserve to “absorb the reins”.(



“We had been doing reasonably about a farm extension work, reasonably about a sheep work and animal production,” Dr Epstein said.

He said the Department of Agriculture changed its direction in the years that adopted, and he left the role in the late 90s to work round the world. 

That’s when Dr O’Dell — who is now 74 years former — took over.

But in 2017, the Tasmanian government removed its veterinarian officer all together and Dr O’Dell used to be as an different employed as a plump-time biosecurity officer, doing his possess vet work on the aspect.

Dr O’Dell has now retired from his government role, but calm does his private domestic vet figure out of the “broken-down” building equipped to him by the government.

Dog and pig

If a vet is no longer in attendance, ill animals deserve to be flown to mainland Tasmania or Victoria.(

Supplied: Sammi Gowthorp


Dr Epstein works from his home on the island when wanted, but agreed a bigger lengthy-term resolution used to be wanted.

“The island wants a vet facility, there’s no question about that, and it may well possibly presumably be nice if I’m able to gather in there and expend it,” he said.

“John’s getting to the age the put he’s form of had adequate. I’ve acquired about a more years left in me, but then I will possible be going the identical means, and then they’ll deserve to earn a vet to absorb the reins.”

Sunset over a beach on Flinders Island in an undated photo.

There is lots of coastline to trail round for the inhabitants of appropriate over 1,000 folks.(

Supplied: Adam Gibson


Dr Epstein said searching for to entice private vets to the island used to be “continuously tricky” as making an earnings wasn’t easy.

“If you may presumably be acquired a inhabitants of about a thousand you’ve acquired to eye at the revenue that you simply may also expand,” he said.

He agreed with Mr Anderson that the Tasmanian government wanted to take into myth re-employing a public vet as an different, or at the least partly funding one.

“For a individual to come here and strive and crawl a veterinary sanatorium and gather cash, it’ll showcase rather advanced — that is why in the past or no longer it is been phase of another job with the Department of Agriculture or Biosecurity,” he said.

“You wanted to possess the veterinary service as phase of another service, but the government is rather hamstrung in the indisputable fact that biosecurity desires biosecurity folks.

Single blokes in abundance

Flinders Island Mayor Annie Revie said it used to be by luck the island used to be getting by with two semi-retired vets.

“We’re appropriate roughly lucky that almost all of the time, one in every of them is there, but there had been times when folks possess had accidents to a dog and they’ve needed to send the animal over to Tasmania or Victoria,” Ms Revie said.

She said the council had chosen land the put a possible new practice may presumably presumably be built.

“We’ve acquired rather of hub appropriate delivery air of Whitemark the put the showgrounds are and the community shed is, and we now possess acquired lots of room there, so we assume that is the probable situation for it,” she said.

Dog on couch

Flinders Island is furthermore without kennels to home animals when resident trail off island.(

Supplied: Sammi Gowthorp


But she said growing the island’s inhabitants used to be key to consuming more vital workers, including vets.

“We possess a inhabitants of round 1,010 folks … if we had about 1,200 folks we imagine we would be more sustainable,” Ms Revie said.

Mr O’Dell agreed getting more folks to the island used to be wanted to toughen services and entice younger single professionals.

The council hoped its new purpose-built sanatorium may presumably furthermore encompass boarding kennels for domestic pets.

The island at the moment would no longer possess any kennels to home animals when residents trail off island.

Recent vet wanted for scenic island living — before the only animal doctors retire