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'Born to be Wild' host Dr. Nielsen Donato shares experience rescuing animals from disasters |

Pet Life

'Born to be Wild' host Dr. Nielsen Donato shares experience rescuing animals from disasters

Dolly Dy-Zulueta -
'Born to be Wild' host Dr. Nielsen Donato shares experience rescuing animals from disasters
Dr. Nielsen Donato feeds Top Breed dog food to dogs affected by the recent Mayon Volcano unrest in Albay, Bicol.
Photo release

MANILA, Philippines — Whenever there are emergency situations involving animals, or certain animals are just in distress, celebrity veterinarian Dr. Nielsen Donato and his team always respond with professional assistance and it’s not just because the cameras are rolling for his show, "Born to Be Wild," but because it is his calling.

One particular mission that is close to his heart is rescuing dogs in disaster-prone areas in the country and making sure they are being properly nourished while the disaster is still going on. According to him: “We always try to respond to disaster sites that are hit by a typhoon, earthquake or volcanic eruption. If we can manage, we’ll really go out of our way.”

With a genuine love and compassion for animals, Doc Nielsen has built his life around them. He is managing partner and chief surgeon of Vets in Practice (VIP), where he tends to different kinds of pets every day. He also runs Laguna Wildlife Park & Rescue Center in Pansol, where various animals, including stray dogs, are sheltered.

For "Born to Be Wild," where he shares hosting chores with another celebrity veterinarian, Dr. Ferds Recio, Doc Nielsen educates viewers on animal health, and candidly talks about some of the challenges he faces when treating them. For instance, back in 2018, he and his team went to Camiguin Norte to respond to a distemper outbreak affecting the dogs in the area. In the same year, he conducted a veterinary mission to Calayan Island because there was a lack of access to veterinary care.

Most recently, Doc Nielsen flew to the Bicol Region, to check on dogs and other animals that were left behind when people evacuated in the wake of Mayon Volcano’s sudden unrest.

“Our goal was to hold a mission for animals that were relocated, pets na iniwan sa bahay because they couldn’t be brought along to the evacuation center,” Doc Nielsen said. “Top Breed helped out as well by donating the dog food that we fed to the dogs we found there.”

He knows that as much as he and his team and other veterinary-related groups care about dogs, especially those affected by natural disasters, there are ordinary people out there who care and want to do their share to help out, as well. His advice is for them to contact animal welfare non-government organizations (NGOs), such as PAWS, CARA Welfare Philippines, and Biyaya Animal Care. They can also coordinate with local government units (LGUs) to reach dogs in disaster sites.

“For all the animal lovers out there who want to help, there are established shelters where you can give dog food donations or monetary assistance for veterinary needs. In terms of disasters like the situation in Albay, you’ll need additional assistance from NGOs and LGUs if you want to do your own rescues,” he explained.

With the country being hit by multiple typhoons and other natural calamities each year, Doc Nielsen is happy and proud of how far LGUs have gone in terms of rescuing and responding to animals in danger.

“There’s a complete difference compared to 10 years ago, when animals would only be rescued weeks later. I’m just so proud that the Philippines has matured in terms of responding to animals’ needs,” he said.

"These animals, be they domestic pets or farm animals, are part of our lives. They’re important to Filipino families.”

Doc Nielsen and his team are trying to build a world where kindness to animals knows no bounds and we can all be a part of it.

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