Renowned double-board US oncology specialist Dr Rodney Ayl joins Paragon

A double-board certified oncology specialist described as one of the most respected and renowned clinicians in his field has joined Paragon Veterinary Referrals after 26 years practicing in the USA.

Zimbabwe-born Dr Rodney Ayl, a specialist in both medical and radiation oncology, has joined Paragon Veterinary Referrals, in Wakefield, part of the UK-wide Linnaeus Group.

Dr Ayl, who most recently worked at California-based Advanced Veterinary Specialists & Animal Specialty Group, is the fourth specialist in six months to join Paragon, a £5 million centre which opened its doors in February 2018.

After growing up in Zimbabwe and graduating from the University of Pretoria in South Africa in 1985, Dr Ayl moved to the USA after a spell in London, where he became a member of the RCVS.

He undertook a small animal internship at the Animal Medical Centre in Manhattan, before moving to the Ohio State University for his residency in medical oncology in 1989. He achieved Board Certification in medical oncology in 1994 and in radiation oncology in 2000.

Dr Ayl has conducted research on the phenomenon of multi-drug resistance, mast cell tumour and oral melanoma and specialises in the application of multi-modality therapy protocols for the treatment of cancer in animals.


He said: “Thirty-something years on, I have come back to the UK as a specialist, where I started as a GP. Living in the UK also brings me much closer to my family, which is very important to me.

“Over the years, veterinary practice in the USA has changed significantly, where it has become more corporate and less personal. I enjoy being part of a new group where typically it is much closer, friendlier and more like a family.

“It only took one visit to Paragon to convince me that I wanted to work here.

“From some of my earliest discussions with Ian Monteith, the managing director at Paragon, he stressed the group’s team approach to clinical practice, which is very much aligned with my own feelings about specialty referral practice. I feel strongly that it is so important to build a team around common principles.”

Dr Ayl plans to oversee the development of a comprehensive oncology department to include chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, immune-therapy and molecular targeted therapy.

He said his work at Paragon will focus on educating referring vets and clients about what is possible in the oncology field.

Plans for Paragon

He said: “My job will be about increasing the level of knowledge, both of owners and general practitioners, of how we treat cancer in animals.

“It can be a scary disease and the first door an owner needs to step through, is understanding that treating a pet is very different to treating a human.

“The intention in humans is usually to cure but with pets, it is more about providing a good quality of life for as long as possible.

“There can be a fear of cancer therapy but if you stick to the protocols, it is no different to treating any other chronic incurable diseases. We use the safest methods with an abundance of caution and try to make sure that the treatment is not worse than the disease.

“It’s about internal training too, from reception right up to nurses and interns, looking at what we do and how we do it, to optimize the quality of life of the pet and their owners.

“I would like to see an oncology department that considers the emotional, financial, time and patient concerns of the owners, so they feel their commitment to cancer treatment for their pet is not a commitment to putting their pet or themselves through a difficult time.”

Dr Ayl joins ECC specialist and clinical director, Sophie Adamantos, soft tissue specialist Mickey Tivers and orthopaedics specialist Turlough O’Neill at Paragon.