“I believe that Vets in Practice has revolutionized the way a vet hospital should look like,” says Dr. Nielsen Donato while giving a tour of the Vets In Practice (VIP) Animal Hospital branch in Fort Bonifacio, Taguig.
Since he was a young boy, Doc Nielsen has had a heart for animals. People would liken him to “Dr. Dolittle,” because of his fascination for all living creatures, from domesticated pets to wild animals. With over 30 years of veterinary experience, Donato is now known as one of the top veterinarians in the country. He is the managing partner and chief surgeon at VIP. When he’s not in the clinic, he co-hosts “Born to be Wild,” a weekly wildlife documentary on GMA7, and helps run the Laguna Wildlife Park & Rescue Center in Pansol.
At VIP, Doc Nielsen usually spends the whole day meeting animal patients. He would often do general check-ups, where he does a thorough assessment of the animal’s face, coat and skin, blood, and other important areas to spot signs of infection.
Before starting the check-up, Doc Nielsen would first greet owners as they enter the consultation room and ask their pet’s name. He also asks about the pet’s character to get a feel of how they behave. Based on his experience, he says that dogs are usually easier to examine because they’re used to human interaction, while cats can be challenging. His general rule is to just be patient with all animals.
“You have to help them feel confident, relaxed, and just hold them gently,” he says. “You have to make sure that their check-ups won’t be traumatizing for them.”
Treating animals with love and compassion
Established in 2003, VIP was started in response to a growing need for professional and compassionate pet healthcare. After two decades, it’s grown to four main hospitals and two subsidiary clinics that offer pet care and veterinary medicine for dogs, cats, birds, and exotic animals.
As one of VIP’s managing partners, Doc Nielsen experienced firsthand just how far the animal clinic has gone. He details that whenever they would do blood tests back in the day, the samples would be sent to a human laboratory and they had to wait at least a day for the results. “Kami ang unang nag-invest ng sariling machines specifically for animals. We can now get results within 30 minutes,” Doc Nielsen says.
“We wanted to reduce the waiting. The longer pet owners have to wait for results, the more anxious they become about their pets’ condition,” he adds, emphasizing that all of their files are digital as well.
VIP has surgery rooms with all the tools veterinarians would need to perform routine and complicated surgeries. This is also where they conduct x-rays.
The clinic has a confinement area for animals who are recovering from illnesses and/or injuries. Pregnant animals can also stay and give birth in this area. Newborn animals will be placed in incubators to keep them warm and ensure that they develop fully and healthily.
“In our Mandaluyong branch, we also have accommodations for pet parents, in case they want to watch over their confined fur babies,” Doc Nielsen relates.
Exotic animal patients
One of the perks of working at VIP is veterinarians get the chance to see and treat animals one wouldn’t see every day. The clinic has big kennels at the back that would sometimes have goats, horses, and big birds in them. “You’ll see all sorts of animals, from house pets to zoo animals. Everyone gets excited,” Donato says.
In the show that Doc Nielsen co-hosts, he often interacts with wild animals with courage. This is the same confidence and compassion he shows the animals at the Laguna Wildlife Park & Rescue Center, which he calls his “happy place.”
In VIP, there are also animals that are a mix of both domestic and wild, like Tigger the Savannah cat. This hybrid is the result of crossbreeding between a Serval and a domestic cat, making the Savannah bigger than the regular house cat.
Although they may act like a normal house pet, Savannahs like Tigger may not be as cooperative as domesticated cats. “If you decide to keep a pet like this, they’re not as calm because they still have that wild side to them. If you have smaller pets like hamsters, birds, or fish, you have to secure them because the Savannah’s hunter instincts are still there,” Doc Nielsen says.
Being a veterinarian can be quite challenging, especially when one has to work with different animals with varying needs every day. Fortunately, Doc Nielsen and the VIP staff are able to offer the best possible care with advanced technology and facilities, allowing them to fulfill their duty.
“We really invested in the clinic, even with the interior design. We wanted it to be the prime area na madaling puntahan with comfortable rooms where owners with dogs and cats won’t feel stressed,” says Doc Nielsen.