Dr. Ethan Morris knew from an early age that he wanted to work with animals. As a young boy growing up in Cleveland, he recalls when his mother would attend teacher-parent conferences.
“I was the kid with bird wings, nests and owl pellets in my desk,” laughs Morris who graduated from the School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University in 1997. His internship at Darien Animal Hospital in Connecticut was followed by a three-year surgical residency at the University of Minnesota Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
Surgery suits Morris who enjoys working with his hands and the satisfaction of making things happen.
“It fits my personality,” says Morris, “I found that I loved surgery and the instant gratification of fixing a health problem.”
Celebrating a 15-year anniversary on July 21, Morris joined the center in 2001 working closely with Dr. Richard Bradley.
In business for more than 30 years, The Veterinary Referral Center of Northern Virginia is the morphing of three distinct, yet often interconnected offices, offering surgery, internal medicine and emergency services all in one location.
“We’re looking to rebrand so that folks know we are all under the same umbrella,” says Morris of the Veterinary Internal Medicine Practice, The Prince William Emergency Veterinary Clinic and the Veterinary Surgical Referral Practice that can all be reached at one number.
“We literally outgrew the space,” says Morris of the new building that sits close to the others – all within walking distance of each other.
The center is open on a 24/7 basis offering a haven for a perhaps distressed pet owner and certainly the dog or cat in need of quiet, comfort and concerned attention.
“There is staff here all the time,” says Morris, “anyone can bring their pet here…sometimes your own vet is not available or it’s after hours or an emergency.”
In many cases, animals coming to the center have been referred there because of the staff’s knowledge and advanced training in specific areas…that and state-of-the-art equipment now offering MLS Laser Therapy. Later this summer an animal behaviorist will join adding a new speciality. The knowledgeable staff and advanced technology are all focused on one thing – the quality of life for that special dog or cat.
“There are two places in Northern Virginia where you can take exotic pets,” says Morris. “For us, 99.9 percent of our clientele are dogs and cats.”
Living in Warrenton with his wife and three children, Morris travels to Manassas to a practice where he estimates that he has performed some 14,000 surgeries so far.
“Your biggest challenge is that they can’t tell you what’s wrong,” says Morris of his many animal patients. “You have to rely on your knowledge, listening to their hearts, your ability to feel…a huge part of it is the owners and their connection to their pet.
“They are all well loved…they just can’t vocalize and tell you where it hurts.”
In their practice, Morris has observed a trend over the years that he hopes further research may provide some answers.
“During the last 15 years, we’ve seen more knee issues in all breeds…perhaps some 400 cases a year,” says Morris, “whether it’s a 1-2 pound Yorkie or a 250 pound Mastiff..and not associated with trauma…perhaps research will point to a hereditary component.”
Morris sees no change in his future in terms of his work life.
“No, I’ve invested way too much and, besides, I look forward to going to work every day. I love what I do.”