ARH Recognises People with Disabilities Who Help Save Animal Lives

Sydney’s Animal Referral Hospital today celebrates International Day of People with Disability, recognising the achievements and contributions of people with disability around the world, including Brendan Hobson who may be bound to a wheelchair but continues to help save animal lives at Australia’s leading veterinary hospital.

This year IDPwD celebrates its 21st year with the theme ‘Removing barriers to create an inclusive and accessible society for all’. The ARH has recently removed the barriers for the 28-year-old vet nurse student who is permanently bound to a manual wheelchair.

Mr Hobson was born with a spinal curvature disorder that prevented him from pursuing his father’s trade in cabinetmaking. He found work at a dog grooming salon, which peaked his interest in studying veterinary nursing and led to employment at a vet clinic near his Wentworthville home.

In 2009, he went in for a back correction surgery that went unexpectedly wrong. He died after his lung collapsed and heart stopped and two corrective surgeries later, an inoperable air pocket developed in his spinal cord, leaving Mr Hobson paralysed from the waist down. Due to occupational health and safety regulations, Mr Hobson had to end his employment with the vet hospital as it could not accommodate his disability. Then sadly, his father passed away from cancer.

But despite the terrible blows that life dealt Mr Hobson, he did not give up on becoming a vet nurse. He continued studying at Richmond TAFE and got his wheels into the ARH in Homebush, which is able to accommodate his special needs.

“The whole experience with the ARH has been a great boost to me mentally. I thought I would never get on with the career I wanted to do,” says Mr Hobson. “At the ARH, I’m learning something different every day and using my knowledge and life experience as well to make good choices. The whole vet team, including the managers, are fantastic. They don’t treat me any differently.”


Animal Referral Hospital able to Accommodate: 


Rebecca Charteris, Veterinary Nursing Manager at the ARH, says the ARH team has been more than happy to accommodate his educational needs and is delighted to have him around.

“Brendan’s physical limitations prevent him from being able to assist with large breed dogs, but he’s great with smaller dogs. Just the other day he helped restrain a 5kg dog for a jugular blood sample and comforted him until he was returned to his owners,” she says.

Mr Hobson is in charge of restocking hospital disposables (syringes, needles etc) and setting up for surgery, which is a great help to the emergency staff during busy times. He is also great with the recumbent critical patients set up on the ICU ((Intensive Critical Unit) benches.

“He is able to sit with them (under supervision) and notify us of any changes, hand us equipment when required and be an extra pair of hands while we perform their treatments,” says Ms Charteris. “Brendan’s also got a great sense of humour and in this high-paced and sometimes stressful environment, he manages to put a smile at one time or another on the faces of our ICU staff.”

Ms Charteris says many vet clinics may not be able to accommodate vet nurses and veterinarians in Brendan’s position due to the accessibility around their clinics for wheelchairs.

“However, due to the large areas and floor plan of the ARH, it puts us in a unique position to be able to open our profession and hospital to ambitious, up-and-coming vet nurses with this kind of disability,” she explains. “We wouldn’t have met Brendan if this was not the case and we hope that we’ve given him the opportunity to continue to achieve his goals in life in the veterinary nursing profession.”

Excited about the Future: 

With six months left before receiving his TAFE certificate and becoming a fully qualified nurse, Mr Hobson is excited about his future – perhaps as a veterinary dental nurse? Mr Hobson says he owes much of his positive attitude to his dogs, Ebony Rose and Paddy, who have given him comfort and friendship during the toughest of days.

“My dad helped train Ebony Rose to pick up my phone, like an assistance dog. Took him a couple of six packs to do it!” he laughs, reminiscing.

Mr Hobson currently works a full eight-hour shift, one day a week at the ARH – exhausting in a manual wheelchair. “I always push myself and see how far I can go and it’s been good so far,” he says, adding that he is thankful to his sister, Sioahan, who drives him to and from TAFE and the ARH every week.

A member of Spinal Cord Injuries Australia, Mr Hobson is also active in wheelchair sports and is learning to do archery. “I’m not the kind of person who sticks to an office five days a week, eight to nine hours a day,” he says. “I’ve always been an active person despite my spinal disorder. I just get on with it.”

Spinal Cord Injuries Australia is a non -profit organisation that is committed to creating independence, dignity and unlimited opportunities for people living with spinal cord injury. For more information, phone 1800 819 775 or visit

International Day of People with Disability is a United Nations sanctioned day (Dec 3) that aims to promote an understanding of people with disability and encourage support for their dignity, rights and well-being. For more information and events near you, phone 1800 440 385 or visit


For more information or media interviews:

Troy James, General Manager

Animal Referral Hospital


W 02 9199 8983/ M 0410 647 974


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