Dr. Asheena Surajpal is the owner and chief veterinarian of Orion Veterinary Clinic in Johannesburg. Plus, she’s also one of the stars of our latest dotsure.co.za TV advert! We caught up with Dr. Surajpal to find out about her history, her practice and of course, her thoughts on pet insurance.

Did you always know you wanted to become a vet?

From the time I was 14 years old, I knew I wanted to help animals and educate owners. I used to hang out at our local vet during my holidays just to help. I was in awe of the surgical aspect of it.

What made you want to become a vet?

When I was a child, I lost a pet to parvovirus. Back then, in the farm areas, nobody stressed vaccination like now. The devastation of losing a pet made me want to help others to ensure they never lose a puppy to parvovirus. I am very passionate about parvovirus cases, and I feel a strong need to help these little helpless puppies.

Do you have pets? If so, tell us about your pets/ childhood pets?

I currently have my 3 babies. Sabrina is a chihuahua and is 16 years old, Tikko is a terrier and is 15 years old, and Bella is a labradoodle cross and is 5 years old. They are all SPCA rescues; I firmly stand for adopt don’t shop.

As a kid, we always had German shepherds. My favourite one was Apollo, a rescue as well. He would prefer never to leave the house as he was so scared of everything, but was such a clever dog and learnt so many tricks, which as kids we thought was awesome – we believed we could enter him in a competition!

What was being part of the dotsure.co.za TV ad like?

It was an amazing experience; I really enjoyed my time on set, and the people were amazing. I have had so many people tell me they saw me on TV, so it was nice to do something different from our everyday jobs.

Why do you think pet insurance is so important for South Africans?

Pet insurance gives pet owners access to the best treatment without negotiating treatments when they’re already so worried about their pets.

The cost of treatment leads many owners to exclude important diagnostics that help in the treatment of the pet. With pet insurance, owners are happy to do whatever is needed to ensure their pets are happy and healthy.

The monthly cost of pet insurance is so little when compared to an unforeseen vet visit. Owners on pet insurance will go to the vet anytime they need to, while owners without pet insurance wait until the last minute hoping the condition gets better on its own.

In this unpredictable economy, the best question I can ask pet owners is, “Why not set yourself up in a position to give your pet the best without compromise?”

What would you say to someone who thinks pet insurance is an unnecessary luxury?

It’s only when you have reliable pet insurance and have taken your sick pet to a vet and not needed to compromise on treatment that you will see the true benefit of pet insurance. In these instances, owners can see that it’s much more than a luxury – it’s a necessity.

Where is your practice based?

Orion Veterinary Clinic is based in Glenanda, Johannesburg South.

How long has it been in operation?

5 years

Tell us about your clients/ patients?

We are a small animal clinic, so we see mostly dogs and cats. I also consult and sterilize rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, rats, potbelly pigs and ferrets.

What is the weirdest thing you have seen or treated a patient for?

When I first opened the clinic, I did my first ferret sterilization. I didn’t even know many people kept them!

What is your stand-out career moment to date?

Opening my clinic was my stand out career moment. I worked my heart out in welfare for 13 years; I learnt a lot and enjoyed it so much. But having my own little clinic that allows me to do cases how I like to do them without a boss is very rewarding and fulfilling. It also allows me to be a mom to my kids… Plus, they get to help with the patients which they love!

How can people get hold of you?

Our email is orionvetclinic@gmail.com or they can call us on 011 432 0505.