WA vet Rick Fenny – the star of national TV special Desert Vet – has been revealed as a finalist in the 2018 West Australian of the Year Awards.
Dr Fenny, who is best known as the real-life vet to Red Dog, the kelpie who famously roamed WA’s Pilbara region in the 70s, is in the running to win the Business category of the annual awards presented in celebration of excellence and outstanding ethics resulting in major positive social or economic impact in WA.
The 69-year-old, who’s dedicated the past 46 years to being a veterinarian and businessman and whose company has invested around $50 million in WA to date, said he was honoured to be a finalist.
“It’s very nice to be acknowledged for doing something you love and I love running vet clinics, employing people and running my tourism ventures – it’s been a wonderful journey so far,” said Dr Fenny
Through his company Pets + Vets, the Rick Fenny Group has built a network of 11 vet clinics across Western Australia – WA’s first ‘remote-controlled’ network of clinics – including in Karratha, Albany, Kalgoorlie, Mirrabooka, Victoria Park, and South Hedland which have employed hundreds of young vets.
The clinics in remote towns ensure local residents have access to quality vet services, and often specialist vet services, close to home.
“If people don’t have access to everything they need, they won’t live in regional areas so it’s been great to able to play a part in helping these parts of WA flourish,” said Dr Fenny.
Also a passionate advocate for Western Australia, Rick’s company owns two tourism businesses – Albany’s Maitraya Private Retreat and the award-winning Ocean Park Aquarium in the World Heritage listed Shark Bay area – which both attract Australian and international visitors.
He also owns Carbla Station outside of Denham and was integral in helping to fundraise for the design and building of the statue of Red Dog in Dampier – now itself an iconic tourist destination – as well as funding a plaque at Red Dog’s burial site in Cossack.
“It’s an honour to call WA home and be in a position to share its unique scenery, experiences and creatures – Ocean Park has welcomed about half a million people in the past 10 years and that’s so rewarding to know we’ve shared the marine life of that incredible part of the world with so many,” said Dr Fenny.
In line with his passion for creating WA as a global tourist destination Desert Vet is currently being shown on Qantas flights and plans are afoot for more episodes.
“There’s a continued need to put the spotlight on our amazing state and attract interstate, international and local tourists to regional and remote WA so it’s great I can be a part of that through Desert Vet,” he said.
Last year’s winner in the Business category and the overall winner of the Awards was Andrew Forrest AO.
Award winners will be announced at a gala dinner at Crown Towers on Friday 1 June.