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Paws-itive Paws-abilities – More than conquerors

Meet the Absa Small Business Friday featured Small Business of the week – Paws-itive Paws-abilities.

Paws-itive Paws-abilities is a veterinary physiotherapy practice dedicated to the well-being of their canine and feline patients. With Heather Whitfield at the helm, they provide specialized care that goes beyond the ordinary. They are dedicated to helping specialist vets work with patients who have undergone orthopaedic and/or neurosurgery, trauma, or injury, aiding them in regaining full strength and functionality.

Years ago, even before Heather embarked on her entrepreneurial journey, life took her to a place where she needed physiotherapy and hydrotherapy. It was during this period that she personally experienced the remarkable transformations these treatments brought about. After a major motor vehicle accident and intense spinal surgery, hydrotherapy sessions gave her the strength and confidence to regain mobility. Heather had an incredible care and support team, and this ignited a spark within her, leading to a profound realization.

Through her rehabilitation process, Heather gained a certain consciousness about her purpose in life, and there was an overwhelming eagerness in her that she needed to do something more rewarding. A seed was planted, and an idea took root. Heather envisioned a future where animals would have access to the same kind of care and attention that had made a significant difference in her life. This vision laid the foundation for what would later become Paws-itive Paws-abilities, a business born out of compassion and a commitment to enhancing the well-being of animals.

In 2022, Paws-itive Paws-abilities received the South African Prestige Award 2022/2023 for the most innovative vet physio practice under the veterinary category, and for the best customer service in the veterinary industry. In the future, they envision their business becoming the leading national brand relating to pet parent education in terms of veterinary physical rehabilitation.

In the same year, Heather Whitfield was approached by DSTV to create a season of eight episodes about Paws-itive Paws-abilities. The series was filmed and directed by the Award-Winning Walla Productions and is called “It’s Paws-able”. This series will not just bring huge attention to this remarkable Para-Veterinary industry; it will also serve every other Registered Vet Physio in South Africa. These series also challenged Heather as an entrepreneur as she needed to deal with sponsors for the program, creating scripts and storylines, and working with the producer and editing team to create the perfect series. Even more so, she was exposed to the intense world of TV production and filmmaking.

Heather has had to overcome some major personal challenges over the years, but these challenges have not only inspired a change in her career but have also taught her that the relationships you have with employees, clients and family are extremely valuable. When faced with a challenge, she believes it can be overcome by prayer, meditation, writing down the pros and cons of the situation and discussing it with a confidant who doesn’t have an emotional attachment to the challenge. This gives you a chance to evaluate the challenge more objectively. A mentor can also help you to celebrate the small as well as the big wins and give you faith and confidence in the process.

In the future, Heather hopes through her position as the South African Ambassador for the International Veterinary Academy of Higher Learning (VAHL) and the University of Tennessee in America to bring internationally recognised courses to South Africa. She is in the process of bringing the International CCRP (Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner) and CCFT (Certified Canine Fitness Trainer) courses to South Africa and has struck up a phenomenal partnership with VAHL Germany that holds huge potential for prospective students in South Africa who would like to enter into this most rewarding career.

Paws-itive Paws-abilities was chosen to receive a Top 10 Small Business Award and won the National Innovation Award for 2023 at the South African Small Business Awards.

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