When there are animals in distress, veterinarian Dr. Nielsen Donato and his team are always on call to provide medical treatment and food. A mission that’s close to his heart is to feed and check on dogs in disaster-prone areas in the Philippines.
“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,” Doc Nielsen said.
Doc Nielsen has genuine love and compassion for animals. As the managing partner and chief surgeon of Vets in Practice (VIP), he tends to different kinds of pets every day. He also runs the Laguna Wildlife Park & Rescue Center in Pansol, where various animals are sheltered, including stray dogs.
As a TV host, 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, Donato and his team visited 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 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. He said, “Our goal was to hold a mission for animals that were relocated, pets na iniwan sa bahay because they couldn’t be brought to the evacuation center.”
He added, “Top Breed helped out as well by donating the dog food that we fed to the dogs that were left behind.”
Caring for community dogs
For those who want to help the dogs within their community, Doc Nielsen’s advice is to contact animal welfare non-government organizations (NGOs), like 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 said he’s happy and proud of how far LGUs have gotten in terms of rescuing and responding to animals in danger. “There’s a complete difference compared to 10 years ago, where animals will only be rescued weeks later. I’m just so proud that the Philippines has matured in responding to animals’ needs,” he said.
“These animals, be it domestic pets or farm animals, are part of our lives. They’re important for every Filipino family.”
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.