The Zoo Ost Limited approach
by Tony Nevin, BSc (Hons) Ost, DO
The first documented evidence of osteopaths treating animals seriously in the UK date from just after the Second World War, although there is anecdotal talk of it originating with the birth of osteopathic medicine with the indigenous American peoples. It’s not until the late 1980’s that the first courses emerged to guide would be osteopaths along the path of animal care. Due to the provisions specified by The Veterinary Surgeons Act 1966, only properly trained graduates of osteopathic medicine can then go on to treat animals, and only via veterinary referral of each animal.
It was during this exciting era in osteopathic history that two prominent figures came forward to provide such training, Stuart McGregor and Anthony Pusey. Both developed their respective courses, offering an introduction into this fascinating area of work. Stuart developed his into a 10 month foundation course, whilst Anthony pursued a more formal approach and managed to attain university validation for the first ever Post Graduate Diploma in Animal Osteopathy, which very quickly transformed into the MSc Animal Osteopathy. Sadly, just after the first intake on the full Masters course, Anthony passed away. It was at this point that Tony Nevin became the new course clinical director, and he has successfully steered through a steady flow of graduates over the last 10 years.
Stuart too is in the process of attaining university validation for his course, and there are others springing up as the profession expands.
Around the same time that the original MSc was being validated a small core of osteopaths set up the Society of Osteopaths in Animal Practice (SOAP).
The aims were to provide structured support for any osteopath wishing to work in animal practice, as well as regular continuing professional development (CPD) training. The society had the backing of the General Osteopathic Council (GOsC) from its inception, and due to his hard work and dedication it was decided that Anthony Pusey would be the chair of this voluntary group.
Following his early passing Tony Nevin was voted in as the new chair, where he continued to steer the profession for a further 6 years to a point where it was punching well above it’s weight, gaining recognition from the likes of BEVA, ACPAT, and the Worshipful Company of Farriers to name just a few. Its remit was always to support, rather than police, its members.
Following this six year stint as chair, Tony stood down to allow new blood in. He took the opportunity to expand the ongoing work of his company Zoo Ost Ltd., which was rapidly taking over all of his time.
Zoo Ost not only provides clinics treating small and large animals, as well as separate human clinics, but has been pioneering in applying osteopathic treatment to a vast array of exotic and wild species of animals and birds. To this end it has always provided seminars and workshops offering quality CPD for osteopaths, physiotherapists, and chiropractors. These have expanded to provide a natural addition to the MSc course, ensuring that animal osteopaths have access to the latest aspects of clinical research, and treatment protocols.
Latterly it has also provided bespoke lecture days for the International Association of Animal Therapists (IAAT), which Tony joined to further integrate with other paraprofessionals. Zoo Ost is the only company that can provide specialist courses in the safe handling and treatment protocols for wildlife and exotics, as well as the complex subject of treating the chronic equine patient using veterinary sedation.
The most exciting of the training courses have involved trips to Europe, Africa and the Far East where delegates have been introduced to unique experiences treating raptors, elephants, rhino, and giraffe to name a few.
Internationally the company has set up several ongoing training partnerships and support packages.
Within the osteopathic profession there is now a proliferation of animal courses emerging, as this area of osteopathy expands. 70 years of animal osteopathy, as we know it, goes before us. That’s something we should all be proud of, and moving forward in this time of political uncertainty, we must ensure that we don’t allow our profession to become fragmented and isolated.
Each of the manual therapies has so much to offer. Over the years Zoo Ost has worked with many colleagues from all of the major manual therapy professions, and continues to do so.
This is an area of manual medicine that can show the human side of the professions that integration can work, does work, and needs to work ... for the benefit of the patient.
The wheel was invented long ago, but look how it has progressed. Education and open communication between the allied professions is ensuring animal based therapy is at the cutting edge of modern day veterinary care.
Zoo Ost Ltd is proud to be a part of this international community, and will continue to provide continuing training to back up the clinical and research work it carries out on a daily basis.
Tony graduated from the European School of Osteopathy in 1988, and took a later degree from the British College of Osteopathic Medicine, graduating in 2010.
Within a year of initial graduation he was approached to treat some horses. Liaising with the vet he found that there was a much greater willingness from the vet to work with him compared to the state of play with doctors on the human side back in the late 1980s.
Soon Tony expanded his animal work to cover small animal treatment, setting up the first referral clinic within a vets practice in Gloucestershire, as well as attaching himself to a wildlife hospital, and then several zoo’s and safari parks where he expanded the boundaries of osteopathic medicine to include species hitherto thought to be untreatable with manual medicine.
He helped found the Society of Osteopaths in Animal Practice, and was chair for 6 years steering it into the respected organisation that it now is.
Along the way he has lectured internationally, is clinical director on the only established MSc in Animal Osteopathy, has had scientific papers published, and is currently working on a comprehensive textbook on animal and bird osteopathy. To date his list of patient species exceeds 300 different kinds, many of these he has pioneered the successful treatment of.