Dr Tonia Norton

Sentient Veterinary Member

Co-founder of VetCharity.Org

(Vets Beyond Borders)

Veterinary Volunteer in Fiji, Bali & The Cook Islands




I remember as a  little girl, all I ever wanted was to be a vet.


Sadly, when I got to high school, I hated science, being so much better at languages and the arts.


I gave up the idea of being a vet and instead started studying subjects suitable to enter an Arts/Law course.


Then one day when I in year 10, I saw a dog that had been hit by a car, lying bleeding in the middle of the road, surrounded by people and I knew in my heart that I had to be able to help fix animals and alleviate their pain. So, I went back to school & changed my subjects, studied like a fury and managed to get  into the vet course at Sydney University.


I have been a veterinarian for over 30 years now. I’ve worked in various parts of Australia and in the UK. Most of my time has been spent in small animal practice. Ophthalmology and medicine are my favorite subjects.

Animal welfare has always been a big part of my veterinary life. I worked for RSPCA for over 4 years, shedding more tears than I’ve ever shed before or since.

Together with a few others , I helped to set up VetCharity.Org(VCO), later to become Vets Beyond Borders, and was on the board for a number of years. During this time with VCO, I worked together with WSPA to try and improve animal welfare in the South Pacific Islands.


During holidays, I have spent time desexing and vaccinating dogs and cats in Fiji, Bali and the Cook Islands. Welfare work is a great experience and I would recommend all vets to do this at some stage of their career. 


I think it’s really satisfying not only to help less advantaged animals and people but also to occasionally just get back to basics, forget ultrasounds, endoscopes and often even X-rays and blood tests, and rely on your knowledge and physical exams to diagnose and treat animals. It’s so rewarding to see how excited owners can be just to learn about things like proper nutrition and parasite control for their beloved pets.



“I was so excited to find Sentient and become a member, as I think it’s about time we, as veterinarians, stood up together, for what we believe in and help not just individual pets, but all animals, to have the chance to live a life free of unnecessary pain and suffering.”