A Decade of Change

Way back in the dark ages (ten years ago, to be precise), Dr Dave MacPhail purchased what was then the Gawler South Small Animal Hospital.  Over the intervening years, the practice has had a change of name (now Gawler Animal Hospital) and a change of address.  It’s also grown hugely and undergone a massive transition, in terms of style of practice.

After ten very busy years, Dr Dave has made the decision to step down from the practice and hand over the reins to Dr Steve Crouch. Steve joined the practice on day one (November 1, 2010) with a view to  eventually come into an ownership role. For the last seven years, Dave and Steve have enjoyed an enormously successful partnership.  All good things must come to an end, however, and it’s time for Steve to drive the next phase of growth and development.

The transition will happen on November 1st, after which Dr Dave will have no further involvement, other than occasional mentoring. Although he’ll no longer be officially part of the practice, he’ll still be a familiar face for a while. As we’re about to start our building extensions (that’s a story for another time!), Dave will be on site  daily  to keep an eye on the building process (Dave and Steve own the building under a separate entity). He’ll also come back on regularly as a client and plans to keep the staff on their toes (difficult client, I would imagine)!

At this point, it’s probably worth reflecting on some of the changes and achievements of the last ten years and I’d like to share some of these with you.


  • Of the nine staff members who were employed in November 2010, most are still associated with the practice (that’s something that gives us great pleasure, actually).
  • At last count, there were 38 of us involved so things have indeed changed a bit!
  • Our staff have evolved into niche roles – reception, consult nursing and hospital – and have undergone a mountain of role-specific training. The result is that they’re far better at their jobs and much better qualified to look after your pets (and you!).
  • There are now twelve vets associated with practice including an internal medicine specialist. Most of these vets have their own area of special interest such as diagnostic ultrasound, orthopaedics and feline medicine.


  • Those of you who have been clients for some time will remember the old building on Fourth Street. A converted four-room cottage that had a degree of charm but was no longer fit for purpose and too small for our rapidly growing practice
  • We moved into the new purpose-built premises four years ago. It never ceases to amaze me how many comments we get from clients about what a wonderful ‘feel’ there is to the new building. Likewise, when we take clients into the hospital area they almost all comment on the size, space and ‘hospital-grade’ setup.
  • It’s a wonderful place for staff to work and is one of the best veterinary facilities in South Australia
  • In the four years since moving in here, we’ve already outgrown the facility. To address this problem, we’ve recently purchased the neighbouring property with a view to adding a large extension onto the side of the current building. If all goes to plan we’ll be able to open this new ‘wing’ in the middle of 2021 – watch this space!


  • Equipment alone won’t get you a good diagnosis or treatment for your pet but a well-equipped hospital allows us to do a lot more in that regard!
  • Our hospital now has the equipment levels to provide you with a very high level of service. It’s also a lot more fun for our staff and, in my experience, happy staff do a much better job for your pets.


  • Gawler South Small Animal Hospital (as it was named back then) always had a reputation as a friendly place for clients to come.
  • That aspect of our reputation remains (in spades!) but we constantly hear comments about how the staff go above and beyond what’s expected to provide high-class client service and care for pets.
  • This is reflected in the large number of reviews we get on our social media presence – almost all of which are 5-star!


  • Over the last two years, we’ve been voted runner-up in the Lincoln Institute ‘Best-led Practice of the Year’ awards. Very disappointing we didn’t go one place higher but still a great reflection on all of the staff!
  • We’re a Veterinary Surgeons Board of SA ‘Accredited Veterinary Hospital’ and had glowing reviews from the board after our most recent accreditation inspection earlier this year. To gain this accreditation, we have to do everything to a higher standard than other practices and so provide you with a better level of care for your pets
  • We’ve been granted ‘Gold-Standard Cat-Friendly Clinic’ accreditation by the International Society for Feline Medicine for several years now. To gain this accreditation, we have to provide both the facilities and the staff to allow for a significantly higher level of cat care. We have a lot of comments from clients about how much more relaxed their cats are when they come to see us (which flows on to the owners themselves, as a result!).
  • Three of our nurses were nominated for the recent Veterinary Nurse Council of Australia 2020 ‘Vet Nurse of the Year’ award
  • As we speak, the practice is also in the running for the Australian Veterinary Association ‘Veterinary Business of the Year’ award (to be announced later this week)


  • I’ve already mentioned that staff members undergo a lot of role-specific training. This focused learning allows each staff member to improve their ability to help your pets
  • The combined accumulative effect of individual improvement is that we’re in a much better position, as a practice, to provide the highest level of care for both your pet and for you, as a client
  • All of our vets, nurses and receptionists are provided with an annual training budget and they use this to good effect. To our way of thinking, if you’re not learning all the time, you’ll quickly become out of touch.
  • This specific training also forms part of our staff retention strategy and there’s no question in my mind that allowing staff to follow their interests has helped us to retain people for as long as we do.  For our clients, we know how important it is for you to develop a long-term relationship with our vets and nurses and to build that level of mutual trust that gives you peace of mind. Your pets really are in the best of hands!

Looking back on some of these changes, it’s hard not to feel a certain degree of pride in what’s been achieved. For my part, I’d like to think I’m leaving behind a legacy and a reputation for a practice that really cares for its charges (both four-legged and two-legged!). I know Steve is very excited to be taking over the reins in his own right and that he’ll continue that legacy into the future.

For all of our wonderful clients, please be assured that one thing that I’m confident won’t change is the high level of care that you’ve always had over the years. You’re what makes us tick, your pets put a smile on our faces and we hope you’ll all still be coming here in another ten years!

Picture of Anne Crouch

Anne Crouch

21 thoughts on “A Decade of Change”

  1. We will miss you Dr Dave!
    Your care over the years has been something special to us. Your leaving the clinic in the very best of hands and we live everyone in the place like family (sometimes more)
    Good luck in your future, we thank you 😊

    • Thanks Donna and Brian. Yes, GAH in a very good place and in very good hands. Thanks for many years as a loyal client with all your Bernese. All best wishes, Dave

  2. Thank you Dr Dave. You took the time to get to know and DNA test one of my fur babies lol. I to still believe she has a little Cairn Terrier in her. Dr Steve is awesome so you leave the practice in safe and loving hands. again Thank You. Enjoy the next adventure. Kind regards Cynthia, Bella and Jessie xxxx

    • Thanks, Cynthia, I know Steve will carry on the good work in my absence. A bit of Cairn Terrier in there is a wonderful thing! Cheers, Dave

  3. Good luck Dr. Dave in your next adventure, whatever that may be.
    Thank you for your wonderful work.
    Kind regards,
    Elisabeth (Liz) Spykstra and Bella. 🐶

    • Thanks, Liz. Haven’t quite worked out the next adventure (Plan A of international travel scuttled by COVID!) but I’m sure it will be fun. Kind regards, Dave

  4. Amazing to read all of that history, and I have so much confidence in the team at Gawler South . I have many memories of the Fourth Street practice in so many wonderful ways ! Wishing Dave all the very best and I am sure he will stay involved in the clinics future xx

  5. Beautifully written Dave.
    Wow what a history the practice has had. And my how you’ve built the practice up to the excellent standard it is today. I definitely wouldnt take my Eddie anywhere else. And Charlie, bless him had the best care for a sick little pooch.
    All the staff are friendly and knowledgeable and very caring. But Beck takes the cake. She is amazing, caring, adorable and extremely knowledgeable.
    Id like to wish you so very well in your next chapter. And a big thankyou! Go well xo 🐕

    • Thanks, Libby, for being a loyal client over so many years. Good news is that I’m leaving Beck behind and she’ll continue to provide you with that level of care you deserve! All best wishes, Dave

  6. All the best, Dr Dave, for the next chapter in your life. Thank you for all the wonderful work you’ve done for animals and their humans in this community for many years. You will be missed. All the best to Dr Steve as he steps into the “full responsibility” role. We know he’ll do well!

  7. Hi Dave. From my days dealing with you as your Bayer rep, interactions with the SA Vet Dermatology Group and reconnecting as a client of your practice, I have nothing but total admiration for your ethics, professionalism and achievements in the veterinary industry. I have total confidence in Steve and the astounding team at the clinic to uphold all you hold dear. In my experience in the vet industry I believe you and your team have created a beacon to behold and aspire to. Bask in your achievements and enjoy the next chapter.

  8. Hi Dave. A little sad to hear the news but wish you all the very best for the next phase of your life. Thank you for the compassion shown to me when Sutti and BeeJay were so sick. I can’t speak more highly of your veterinary practice, you and your staff are amazing and more like friends. Phoenix & Jett are now in good hands with Dr Steve at the helm.
    Once again, all the very best for what comes next – Enjoy!


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