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Veterinary Referral Center offers a trinity of animal care

Thursday, Jul. 28 | By Anita L. Sherman, Culpeper Times
Dr. Ethan Morris of Warrenton estimates he has performed 14,000 surgeries so far as a veterinarian. Photo by Anita L. Sherman
Dr. Ethan Morris knew from an early age that he wanted to work with animals. As a young boy growing up in Cleveland, Ohio he recalls when his mother would attend teacher-parent conferences.

“I was the kid with bird wings, nests and owl pellets in my desk,” said Morris who graduated from the School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in 1997. His internship at Darien Animal Hospital in Connecticut was followed by a three-year surgical residency at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

Surgery suits Morris who enjoys working with his hands and the satisfaction of making things happen.

“It fits my personality,” said Morris, “I found that I loved surgery and the instant gratification of fixing a health problem.”

Celebrating a 15-year anniversary on July 21, Morris joined the Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia in 2001 working closely with Dr. Richard Bradley.

In business for more than 30 years, the Referral Center is the morphing of three distinct, yet often interconnected offices, offering surgery, internal medicine and emergency services all in one location.

“We’re looking to rebrand so that folks know we are all under the same umbrella,” said Morris of the Veterinary Internal Medicine Practice, The Prince William Emergency Veterinary Clinic and the Veterinary Surgical Referral Practice that can all be reached at one number.

“We literally outgrew the space,” he said of the new building that sits close to the others - all within walking distance of each other.

The center is open on a 24/7 basis offering a haven for a perhaps distressed pet owner and certainly the dog or cat in need of quiet, comfort and concerned attention.

“There is staff here all the time,” Morris said, “anyone can bring their pet here...sometimes your own vet is not available or it’s after hours or an emergency.”

In many cases, animals coming to the center have been referred there because of the staff’s knowledge and advanced training in specific areas...that and state-of-the-art equipment now offering MLS Laser Therapy.

Later this summer an animal behaviorist will join adding a new specialty. The knowledgeable staff and advanced technology are all focused on one thing - the quality of life for that special dog or cat.

“There are two places in Northern Virginia where you can take exotic pets,” says Morris. “For us, 99.9 percent of our clientele are dogs and cats.”

Living in Warrenton for more than 10 years with his wife and three children, Morris travels to Manassas to a practice where he estimates that he has performed some 14,000 surgeries so far.

“Your biggest challenge is that they can’t tell you what’s wrong,” Morris said of his many animal patients. “You have to rely on your knowledge, listening to their hearts, your ability to feel...a huge part of it is the owners and their connection to their pet.

“They are all well loved...they just can’t vocalize and tell you where it hurts.”

In their practice, Morris has observed a trend over the years that he hopes further research may provide some answers.

“During the last 15 years, we’ve seen more knee issues in all breeds...perhaps some 400 cases a year,” says Morris, “whether it’s a 1-2 pound Yorkie or a 250 pound Mastiff..and not associated with trauma...perhaps research will point to a hereditary component.”

Morris sees no change in his future in terms of his work life.

“No, I’ve invested way too much and, besides, I look forward to going to work every day. I love what I do.”

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