By Amy Fendley Peter Dobias grew up in an "unhealthy" industrial area of the Czech Republic where surface gold mines had stripped the earth and destroyed the environment. His father, a veterinarian, had big dreams for his son to become an architect, but despite his father’s wishes, young Dobias went off to vet school. He began competitive horseback riding early in life, but by the time he was riding six days a week he realized that life was passing him by. "All I knew from very early on, was horses," says Dobias. "I saw situations where trainers were ignoring the needs of the animals." After graduating from vet school, and before leaving for Canada, Dobias took a job teaching a course entitled: hygiene of food production. "I had to make the course interesting," said Dobias. "I discussed the influence of food on people, the principles of macrobiotics and the connections between diet and health, and food and environment." Once in Canada, in 1991, Dobias spent three years studying English and the theories behind modern Western medicine. "The methods of treatment seemed rigid and suppressive and didn’t answer the question of why the problem was developing." Ironically, Dobias developed a severe allergy to cats and dogs and could not work. He turned to health food stores seeking an answer. He discovered a homeopathic remedy that was successful in curing his allergies. "I thought, what is this, two weeks, one month, six months," said Dobias. "The problem went away and the light came on. I had been seeing out of one eye, now I was seeing out of two." With both eyes wide open, Dobias registered for homeopathic certification in the U.S., which he completed this year. His teacher, Dr. Pitcairn, is considered a founder of veterinary homeopathy. "Many people think, that homeopathy is just another name for herbal medicine, the truth is different," says Dobias. "It is actually a 200 year old science, very popular during the beginning of this century. Unfortunately, homeopathic remedies are very inexpensive in comparison to Western methods, and prescription and drug companies weren’t interested in sponsoring the research in the homeopathic field. Holistic, or whole body, pet care in the form of homeopathy was put aside. "People have a total misconception of how ‘wealthy’ vets are," says Dobias. "The medical care system is in real financial difficulty and the government can’t keep up. Imagine having those same circumstances in a hospital, but with no government to support it. This is one of the reasons I went into homeopathic medicine. I’m not thinking about the money, I’m trying to help my clients help their animal friends." Dobias doesn’t agree with the terms pet or animal, but prefers to use "animal friends" to establish their identity and to show appreciation for their companionship. When two year-old Skoki, a golden retriever from Pemberton, was brought to Dobias, he had a severe ear infection. If an immune system is suppressed through drugs, a combination of stress and bacteria can overwork the system, causing depression, food allergies and environmental allergies. Dobias developed a recipe of raw meat, bone meal, and vegetables to cleanse Skoki’s body. Within two months and without surgery, the pup’s health was reported as 90 per cent improved. "How we feed our animals doesn’t make a lot of sense, it’s leading to degenerative diseases," says Dobias. "When pet food manufacturers started out they were using grain-based foods and unfit-for-human-consumption meat parts. In nature, dogs do not eat grains, heated, processed or chemically preserved food, and we expect to feed them this and for them to be healthy? If someone told you to eat pellets, would you? It’s like putting propane into a gasoline-fuelled car. Dogs and cats can resist bacteria in raw meat. They can also digest raw bone if it’s not cooked. If they are healthy with a good immune system, they do not get salmonella or other diseases that we fear. "Fifty years ago, humans thought they could do anything; kill bacteria with antibiotics, change the flow of rivers, and pollute without any consequences. There was a tendency to see the world as more simple than it really is and the same has been happening in medicine. Western medicine is unfortunately failing in treating most chronic diseases and people are looking for a deeper understanding of health and disease, wanting to learn how to prevent serious conditions and put body back to balance. "Dogs and cats have become true family members and people are looking for alternatives for them as well." Dobias, through his Natural Veterinary Medicine Services, works out of Coast Mountain Veterinary Services in Whistler’s Creekside and the Lions Veterinary Clinic in North Vancouver, practising medicine and surgery and implementing homeopathy in all treatments. Natural Veterinary Medicine Services is the only full-time homeopathic clinic operating in the Lower Mainland.