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Jan 31, 2023

Animal Medical Centre Celebrates 25th Anniversary

Celebrating twenty-five years is a milestone that many couples and businesses only dream of, but in Belize, the Animal Medical Centre has made so much of an impact on the pet-loving community that it has been able to not only survive as a veterinary clinic but actually grow through the years. At the inception in 1998 were three persons: Doctor Michael DeShield, now deceased, his wife, Miriam, and Doctor Jane Crawford. Today Crawford and Miriam DeShield took News Five on a tour of the facility where they so proudly serve their four-legged patients. Marion Ali reports.


Dr. Deshield

Marion Ali, Reporting

Valentine’s Day this year will mark a special occasion for Animal Medical Centre. It will be the facility’s twenty-fifth anniversary since it opened its doors to offer veterinary care to Belize’s pets. At the helm were Dr. Michael DeShield, Miriam Deshield, and Dr. Jane Crawford. While Dr. Deshield has passed on, his wife and Dr. Crawford continue to run the facility.


Miriam DeShield

Miriam DeShield, Hospital Administrator, Animal Medical Centre

“The initial idea was the dream of Michael DeShield who was my husband. He saw Dr Jane as a student at Belize College of Agriculture and I like to say, well I think he picked her then, seeing how good she was, so when she graduated and finished studying in Cuba, she came over as an intern with him.”


Miriam DeShield told us that together they worked tireless hours at the first clinic which was located at the corner of Castle and Lancaster Streets in Belize City, a family property of her deceased husband. And some of the strides that the facility boasts about now can also be shared as part of Belize’s national growth.


Miriam DeShield

“He designed it so that it could be a clinic and renovated it for a clinic and we were there fifteen years. Many of the new graduates from veterinary programs came through our clinic at Animal Medical Centre at that time for training after they finished school.”

Dr Crawford, was fresh out of her veterinary studies in Havana, Cuba when the centre was getting started. That would mark the start of her commendable career.


Jane Crawford

Dr. Jane Crawford, Veterinarian, Animal Medical Centre

“There wasn’t a lot of veterinary activity at that time. At that time if we saw five animals for the day that was like okay, we did – yes, we did very good today. We had five clients and all of that. Well now if we see five patients for the day, well what is wrong, something is wrong.”


Marion Ali

“How many do you see in a day?”


Dr. Jane Crawford

“It varies. I think we see – I don’t know, some days more than fifty.”


The facility started to offer more services to the pet population and it became popular among pet owners, who turned to the clinic whenever the need arose. With the expansion came the need for relocation. That happened ten years ago, after Dr. DeShield died in the Belama Phase Two area, on a street named after him. And the services offered also include wild-life health care.


Miriam Deshield

“One of our doctors, Dr Phillip DeShield, who is my son, Michael’s son, did training in wildlife veterinary medicine and a lot of the NGOs – when it’s convenient, they bring the animals here to us. We do a lot of birds. I think eighty something percent of our patients are dogs, and maybe ten percent or less are cats. Then we have about three percent wildlife, and more negligible or even less of large animals, but we do that too. So we would see pigs, cows.”


We were present when Tido, one of the smaller breeds, showed up for dental care. Dr. Crawford did the honours while we watched, from the administering of the anesthesia to the actual procedure. But dental care is one of several services that the centre offers.


Dr. Jane Crawford

“We do general consultations, so if you have a pet that you just want to do a check-up, vaccination, so you come in as a check-up, then you do a regular visit that you do vaccination, deworming. We do a physical check-up. Make sure the animal is okay and everything. So that’s the basic. Then we also have surgeries. We do routine procedures like spays and neuter, so if you have your female or male that you don’t want them to have puppies then that is done as well. And we also do other procedures.”

The Animal Medical Centre has a staff of fourteen, including four full-time veterinarians, and a team of assistants and students enrolled in Galen University’s veterinary program. As the facility looks ahead, DeShield said she is stepping aside into retirement, but there’s an adjustment she’d like to see happen in the near future.


Miriam DeShield

“We’ve had a grooming service a long time, but it was in-house trained. I would like to find someone who would be interested in doing the grooming and just give them some of the professional training so that we could offer that in Belize – somebody skilled in this. That’s a dream for me going forward. I would like to rearrange the hospital. If we were going to make a change I would like to extend our ward to make it a little bit more friendly. That would be a thing I would do going forward.”


Marion Ali for News Five.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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