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Pilbara vet to showcase North West on new TV show

Alicia PereraPilbara News

Pilbara vet Rick Fenny has become one of Australia’s most successful career vets since setting up his first clinics in Roebourne and Karratha more than 40 years ago.

But with patients including joeys, racehorses, cattle and beloved Pilbara kelpie Red Dog, his career has been more adventure-filled than most. Now a pilot for a new TV show, airing tonight on Channel 7, is set to showcase Dr Fenny to a national audience, chronicling his work as he travels around regional WA and treats animals alongside staff at his Karratha, Exmouth and Shark Bay clinics.

Dr Fenny said Desert Vet was designed to resonate on two different levels, which he described as “documentary and actuality”.

“The documentary side of it is following Rick Fenny as he goes around the countryside living the dream, working on cattle stations, going to race meetings and small towns like Meekatharra and Shark Bay and Exmouth, doing a bit of vet work as he goes and having a lovely time seeing the wonderful scenery of WA,” he said.

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“In this special we highlight Landor Races in the Gascoyne, Karijini, the Roebourne area, Exmouth, Ningaloo, Shark Bay, and Perth.

“The actuality component is in cuts to what’s happening at the coalface, which is mostly the veterinary team at Karratha where they face everyday problems such as a snake bite and dog with bowel problems and a cat with peritonitis.”

“It’s the things that most practices don’t see, that you’ll never see in Bondi Vet.”

Dr Fenny started his career as a Government vet in the Kimberley before opening his first clinic in Roebourne in 1978, followed by Karratha, and was the long-term vet of famous local canine Red Dog.

He has since established one of the largest networks of vet practices in Australia, with 12 clinics in regional WA locations spanning from South Hedland to Albany.

He still calls the Pilbara his “spiritual home”.

Tourism WA is also on-board as a program sponsor in a bid to showcase the landscapes of regional WA as Dr Fenny travels to clinics across the State.

Acting chief executive Joe Ostojich said the program would show Australian viewers a wealth of regional WA attractions.

“The purpose of sponsoring Desert Vet is to influence and integrate extraordinary tourism experiences and Just Another Day moments into a program that will be viewed by Tourism WA’s target audiences both across WA and in other States in a primetime national TV program, on a major free-to-air channel,” he said.

“The end goal is to increase awareness, education, and the desire of potential travellers to visit WA, by showcasing how WA can be experienced, and that the destination is worth the journey.”

Dr Fenny said if the pilot was a success and developed into a series, the show could be screened internationally.

He said he hoped Desert Vet captured his legacy as well as the rewards of working with the colourful animals and people of the isolated North West.

“It’s my way of saying thank you to the people of the north, for trusting me and putting their faith in me for the last 45 years,” he said.

“I’ve been here in Karratha and Roebourne, South Hedland, Newman, Tom Price, Exmouth for the last 40 years and before that I did three years in the Kimberley, so my involvement has been with all the North West for all of my career.”

The pilot of Desert Vet airs tonight on Channel 7 at 7.30pm.

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