By Monday morning Tauranga veterinarian Dr Liza Schneider of Holistic Vets already has her week mapped out – patient consultations, x-rays and tests, exploratory procedures, vaccinations, booked surgeries, surgical follow-up and care, a few home visits… and an interview.
On top of her full-time weekly workload, she’ll expect a dozen or more emergency cases, 4-5 night-time callouts, and, during the summer months, a staggering 30 or so injured or orphaned birds that need attention, per day!
She wants to help them all. Whether her patients come through the door maimed, ill, pained, malnourished or homeless, she’ll do everything she can to get them back to health, or have orphans fostered and rehomed. How does she do it?
Absolute passion for her work, for starters. It shines out as soon as you meet Dr Liza – a well-known Tauranga vet who also founded ARRC (Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Centre) Wildlife Trust in 2003. In her recent autobiography, she says she always wanted to become a vet and her earliest memories involve animals. Liza grew up in South Africa, surrounded by a “zoo of pets” which she attended to lovingly. As well as the usual cats, dogs, birds, and frogs, Liza’s menagerie also comprised a tortoise, chameleon, gerbil, silkworms and even a few snakes. She has fond memories of them all – including a few stories involving the slithering creatures that escaped into dark corners of the house!
“All I wanted to do was care for animals, but as a young vet I found it frustrating because the tools I was taught didn’t always help,” she says. “I wanted more for my patients, to enhance their health and well-being and to find healthcare options that would improve their quality of life where conventional medicine was at a dead end.”
Another thing, is her dedicated team, comprising one other vet and five vet nurses who help Liza run the 24-hr emergency vet service. She’s come a long way since establishing Holistic Vets as a sole-operator mobile vet service in 2003. Within two years Liza opened small premises in Tauranga with surgical and hospital facilities, and rapid expansion necessitated the move for Holistic Vets to move to 56 Fraser St.
On top of a flourishing business, her public profile has also blossomed. Her innovative approach to vet care, and her efforts to protect and care for wildlife, have gained her considerable popularity, as well as recognition from the business sector. At the 2013 Westpac Tauranga Business Awards, Holistic Vets won the category for Business Innovation and Entrepreneurship. In the same year she won the Young Read Woudberg Young Business Owner of the Year Award, adding to a host of other awards and accolades recognising her work. A TV series in 2014 (called M.A.D. Vets, which stands for ‘Make a Difference’) followed the day-to-day happenings of her vet clinic as well as the award-winning work of Liza and her ARRC team.
The third ‘arrow to her quiver’ in helping to manage the busy practice is her innovative approach to vet care. Holistic Vets offers a range of complementary therapies to treat patients where conventional medicine can no longer help. It’s this ‘best of both worlds’ approach that helps Liza in her mission to regain and sustain long-term optimal health for patients.
Early on in her career, Liza recognised the value of complementary therapies and began to study herbal medicine, homeopathy, flower essences, acupuncture, nutrition, and Neurological Integration System (NIS). As a sporty teenager, Liza often succumbed to physical injuries and found osteopathic treatment got her back to health and ready to compete again very quickly. She also witnessed remarkable recoveries in her younger brother, and later a lion cub, when both began a treatment plan using homeopathic remedies to aid ill health. She decided to learn as much as she could about how complementary therapies could help in her practice.
Her efforts paid off and she was frequently amazed to see positive changes in patients’ health when she treated them with complementary therapies. For example, nutritional supplements help to clear up skin conditions and relieve arthritis, NIS sessions help to resolve stubborn, chronic ailments – a cat with a head tilt began to carry her head straight after one session, herbal and homeopathic remedies ease pain, chiropractics treat musculoskeletal conditions.
“We look at the whole picture and integrate complementary therapies to help where needed. It really is the best of both worlds.”
Liza also offers hyperbaric oxygen therapy (HBOT), where pressurised oxygen diffuses into body tissue to speed up healing. The therapy has been used in human medicine since the beginning of the 20th century (it is commonly known as a therapy to treat divers with the bends), but animals have only really begun to benefit in the last 30 years. Liza was involved in pioneering animal HBOT in New Zealand and is now one of only two vets here to offer hyperbaric oxygen therapy (the other is in Nelson).
“A big part of my role is educating and empowering clients by offering them a range of options for caring for and healing their pets. Our clients are just as important as our patients and we have a role to counsel them and ensure they are cared for, respected and understood. By using the best of both worlds, we achieve consistently good outcomes for our patients and peace of mind for owners.”
Dr Liza Schneider
BVSc - Veterinarian and Director of Holistic Vets
Holistic Vets main priority is your pet’s long term health and happiness, and of course, your peace of mind. Their caring approach and personalised attention ensure that animals have a greater quality of life, and their owners feel empowered and informed to help achieve this.
56 Fraser Street, Tauranga