At the corner of Gen. Luna and Algier St. in Poblacion, Makati lies what is perhaps the longest continuing veterinary practice in Asia. The Makati Dog and Cat Hospital has been tending to the beloved companion animals of Filipino families for decades. Though celebrities like Pia Wurtzbach and Karen Davila have been known to entrust their pets to the hospital, the fact that it is patronized by famous personalities only adds to the already stellar reputation of the Carlos’ family business.

All in the family

In 1927, Dr. Sixto Almeda Carlos y Nepumoceno established a dog and cat clinic on the floor below his family home in Ermita. This allowed him to check on his patients whenever they needed him, even at odd hours. Less than a decade before this, he became one of the first two Filipino officers of the Philippine Veterinary Medical Association, which had previously been led only by American officials. He was appointed the association’s treasurer, while Dr. Victor Abreu Buencamino became their president.

His great-grandson, Dr. Sixto S. Carlos, explains that his great-grandfather always loved animals. “Besides treating dogs and cats, he would treat the horses of the kalesa owners for free during the pre-war days,” he says. He refers to his great-grandfather as “the guy who started it all”. This couldn’t be any more true, considering that what the patriarch created grew into the first dog and cat hospital in Manila.

Dr. Enrique Rodriguez Carlos, Dr. Sixto Almeda Carlos’ son, took over the hospital in 1958. In 1962, the family established the Makati Dog and Cat Hospital. Now, it is in the hands of Dr. Sixto S. Carlos. “It started with my great-grandfather, continued by my grandfather, my dad, and finally me,” he says. Caring for animals runs in his blood; his mother, half-uncle, and two sisters also chose the veterinary life.

A sense of community

Perhaps this is why pet lovers have come to so rely on them. Unlike many veterinary practices in the metro, the Makati Dog and Cat Hospital has always made it a point to be open 24 hours for emergency cases. “It’s important that our clients and patients have a place to go to in case of an emergency,” Dr. Sixto S. Carlos says. It is, after all, every fur parent’s nightmare to have to deal with a pet’s health scare alone. The hospital understands this because they all share a love for animals.

While the Carlos family has been caring for animals – even from some of the same customers – for almost a century, they have also been holding onto some of the same staff. For instance, Dr. Zaldy Binogon has been with the hospital for over 10 years. A post on the hospital’s Facebook page from late November features a photo of a female Siberian Husky licking his cheek. The caption reads, “She just had her vaccines, and truly loves her doctor!” Dr. Sixto S. Carlos makes it a point to employ those who not only have the ability to learn, but also have empathy for animals.

Raising responsible pet parents

The hospital’s work extends even beyond its veterinary services. Children have written about their “summer internships” at the hospital, and the hospital has facilitated talks about responsible pet parenthood in schools and barangays. “We have always been active in mass vaccinations, research, and responsible pet [parenthood] lectures,” Dr. Sixto S. Carlos notes. He believes that responsible pet ownership must be taught, as this would undoubtedly lead to fewer headaches and expenses among pet owners. These lectures are especially useful for children; in his own words, “Starting them young is a big plus.”

Throughout his work as a vet, he has noticed that complaints of infectious diseases and parasitism are more common in the Philippines compared to other countries. He believes that “This is because we need to educate the public,” because many of the conditions he has seen plague pets in the Philippines could be easily prevented. Responsibility for animal companions is a concept one must learn prior to caring for a pet of one’s own.

Though these diseases continue to affect animals in the Philippines every day, what is certain is that whether a pet has a dire illness or a simple cold, Makati Dog and Cat Hospital will always open its doors to animals in need.

This appeared in Animal Scene magazine’s February 2020 issue.

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