"I had a love for dentistry but being with VDS has made a passion.” -VDS LVT
Part 1: Beginning with Brook
From an early age, Brook Niemiec was fascinated by animals. He was half-raised on a dairy farm and witnessed how between medicine and the compassion of a vet, animals’ lives were changed. This fascination turned into the idea for a career in 1981. When Brook was in high school and considering his future, he visited his uncle, a human periodontal surgeon who shared Brook’s love of animals. Brook spoke of his interest in veterinary medicine. His uncle told him that if he was going to be a vet, he had to do dentistry.
Brook thought this a crazy idea. “People don’t care for their pets’ teeth.”
His uncle replied, “I know they don’t. But they will.”
Where it all began- Brook on the farm!
Veterinary school confirmed for Brook that animal dentistry was a huge unmet need. In four years of study, less than one day was dedicated to oral health care. Brook decided he wanted to change that when he went into practice. So, he did.
Over the decades, he and his partners and staff met the growing need for dentistry and oral surgery. But now there was another problem. A limit to the number of animals they could help. So rather than keep working at a simple 1:1 ratio of doctor to patient the team explored how they could scale their impact. This bore the idea of adding education to the practice’s services – through classes, lectures and residencies — so they could reach more people who could help more animals. This one-to-many approach evolved into the VDS Center for Excellence.
VDS started as one man’s awakening and grew into a family of passionate practitioners. And now that family is continuing to evolve from a practice into a movement. One that retains its family ties internally through its culture but expands its reach and advocacy globally. A family founded on that same, simple belief passed on from Brook’s Uncle 40 years ago.
Part 2: The Early Days
Speaking of FAMILY, Dr. Furman started his association with Dr. Niemiec and VDS way back in 1999 when he was still in undergrad, and Dr. Niemiec was operating in general practice. He became Dr. Niemiec’s tech while working at a large referral center in Orange County in the early 2000s and then during his summers as a veterinary student. Following Dr. Furman’s internship year, he started his residency in 2008. He has been associated with VDS for over one-half of his life.
The practice started as a small operatory in San Diego within the local “Animal Dermatology Group.” The practice grew not only in offerings (in 2008, the team added a residency program with Dr. Furman) but also in locations (Las Vegas and Murrieta). At the same time, Dr. Niemeic started teaching veterinary dentistry in Ensenada, Mexico, expanding the business beyond San Diego and into international territory. Because of this, the team decided to invest in a state-of-the-art flagship practice in Kearny Mesa and a novel San Diego Veterinary Dental Traning Center.
And from there, VDS kept growing! Dr. Furman opened practices in Irvine, Santa Barbara, and Ontario following his residency. Recently he and Dr. Niemiec have added practices in Ventura and Arroyo Grande.
The team also grew to add more partners. Via a chance meeting at the Veterinary Dental Forum, Dr. Niemiec and Dr. Erin Ribka became friends (even though she’s a San Francisco Giants fan), and eventually, she became a part-time resident. This led to her and Dr. Niemiec starting practices in New Orleans and Pensacola.
The next full-time resident to come aboard was Dr. Allen Skinner, who, with Dr. Niemiec, now runs the two other San Diego Locations in conjunction with Veterinary Specialty Hospital (Sorrento Valley and San Marcos). During his residency, Dr. Skinner started our Fresno practice with Dr. Niemiec and Dr. Ribka.
Blast From the Past
Part 3: Expansion!
As of 2019, the clinics hit critical mass with four veterinarians and ten locations across the United States. That year Dr. Gibbs and Dr. Holloway started, quickly followed by Dr. Henderson, Dr. Fielder, Dr. Markowitz, Dr. Hernandez, and Dr. Hermanson.
Since 2020 additional practices in Idaho Falls, Ventura, Arroyo Grande, and Jacksonville (FLA) have opened.
As of this writing, we are 11 veterinarians strong with 19 locations.
Part of the VDS difference is our board-certified specialists.
Although the number of Board-Certified Veterinary Dentists TM is growing every year, there are fewer than 200 in the United States! Several states do not have a companion animal veterinary dentist. We are lucky at Veterinary Dental Specialties to have three companion animal Board-Certified Veterinary Dentists TM in southern California. This means we have more companion animal Board-Certified Veterinary Dentists TM than can be found in over half the states!