Dr. Jan Pol fixes every kind of animal and he also heals the humans too with his love
Dr. Jan Pol has been a veterinarian for more than 50 years. His show The Incredible Dr. Pol began in 2011 and has been on Nat Geo WILD for 13 seasons. As passionate as he is about animals, he loves to celebrate Diane, his wife of 50 years just as much.
We will be in for a treat in the first episode in the form that we will be able to see them renew their wedding vows on screen.
Dr. Jan-Harm Pol was born on a dairy farm in the province of Drenthe in the Netherlands in 1942. He earned his DMV at Utrecht University. In the 1970s he and Diane moved to Harbor Beach, Michigan. In 1981, they created Pol Veterinary Services that now has over 22,000 clients.
Dr. Jan Pol spoke with Michelle Tompkins for TheCelebrityCafe.com about his education, career, love of his wife, love of animals, what was his strangest case, what The Incredible Dr. Pol is all about on Nat Geo WILD, why he is so passionate about affordable pet care and more.
Michelle Tompkins: So you're Dutch American, is that correct?
Dr. Jan Pol: I am an American citizen, but I am born and raised in the Netherlands, yes, that's correct [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: And you live now, in Michigan, is that right?
Dr. Jan Pol: We live in Upland Michigan, yeah, right in the middle of Michigan.
Michelle Tompkins: How long have you been here?
Dr. Jan Pol: Back and forth several times, but I came to the United States for good in about 1970.
Michelle Tompkins: Can you please tell me about your educational background?
Dr. Jan Pol: Educational background was in the Netherlands where there's a very good vet school, actually, that school in Utrecht, at that time, was the only non-English speaking university that was accredited by the American Veterinary Medical Association.
Michelle Tompkins: Oh, wow [laughter], you have a little inside track there.
Dr. Jan Pol: Basically, yes. It wasn't at the time I graduated, but I worked for about 10 years in Harbor Beach and my senior partner was on the Council of Education of the AVMA and he actually went to Utrecht University while I graduated and accredited it.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, did you always love animals?
Dr. Jan Pol: Yes, always. Right from the very start. My sister remembers, I don't because I was too young, that when I was less than three years old that there was a crippled chicken that I actually help nurse back to health that was, at that time, my pack-mule. It was what she called, my crippled kippy in Dutch, limping chicken, that I was basically trying to take care of.
Michelle Tompkins: And you tend to work with farm animals, but do you work with all animals, what's the range?
Dr. Jan Pol: I don't know who did it, but somebody checked on it and they said that I am one of four veterinarians in Michigan that will take any animal coming through the door [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: Well, what are some of the strangest animals you've treated or cases for that matter [laughter]?
Dr. Jan Pol: The strangest animal; This mother and daughter come in with a $2 white mouse that actually had fleas that she picked up from the cat, I guess.
Michelle Tompkins: A white mouse?
Dr. Jan Pol: A white mouse—
Michelle Tompkins: With fleas?
Dr. Jan Pol: Yes. It was the daughter's pet and the daughter could handle it and everything, but they saw these little black creatures crawling over it. And so what you do, you take your flea medicine and put one drop on the mouse and sent them home and said, "Okay. You're all set [laughter]."
Michelle Tompkins: That's an interesting one.
Dr. Jan Pol: Yeah. We have had a number of snakes, we've had a number of the North African Porcupines, they are different than the porcupines we have here, they don't lose their needles and, yeah. So, yes. We have a client that has an apple orchard and sells a lot of cider, but he also has basically a little... I wouldn't say a road-side zoo, but he like animals and he has a whole bunch of parrots, he has wallabies, he has some camels, and, yes, he has a little bit of everything. So you try to be prepared to look at these animals and if they're sick to help them.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, do you keep any pets yourself? Yes, of course, you must [laughter].
Dr. Jan Pol: Diane and I now, we have three dogs in the house, and they weigh over 500 pounds together, two cats in the house, they all get along fine. And then outside we have our ducks and geese, peacocks, a pheasant and we have fish down in the basement, horses by the clinic.
Michelle Tompkins: Now is there anything you'd like to add about your personal life?
Dr. Jan Pol: Personal life, we're busy. We, especially now with the show being in its 13th season, that starts again here on July 7th, busy. If it is not working in the clinic where we are very busy, then we have to work with the film crew to do something extra which is always a lot of fun.
Michelle Tompkins: And I think it's neat that you guys started your veterinary clinic out of your home. So that makes it even more interesting.
Dr. Jan Pol: Right. When we moved here I did not have a clinic. I was 80 percent dairy vet. Diane was doing the books and answering the phone, and we had a small cubicle in the garage where we did some small animals because I always liked to do surgery. And yes, Diane and I have been married 50 years now. That is going to be in the first episode. We let the crew come in and film personal things too, and I think that's what people really like in this show.
Michelle Tompkins: Now tell me a little bit more about the show. It's been on for 13 seasons.
Dr. Jan Pol: Yes.
Michelle Tompkins: Okay. What's it about, for people who haven't seen it?
Dr. Jan Pol: If people haven't seen it, okay. We now have five veterinarians in the practice, but three of them have been there long enough that they are always appearing in the show. It is a show about veterinary care. But I hope to say it's common sense affordable pet care, because that is one of my big peeves, that veterinary care is now getting so expensive that people cannot afford it. And when people cannot afford to take their animals to the vet, the animals are suffering, and this is what bothers me.
We are trying to keep people so that they do come in and take care of their pets. Animals are important in human lives, and they're put on this earth for us to take care of, but it has to be affordable too. You should not have to take bread out of your mouth in order to take care of your pets. I do believe that kids have to grow up with pets in order to become better citizens later in life. This is why I am practicing the way I do. Common sense affordable pet care is for me, very important.
Michelle Tompkins: How do you work with your customers? Is it on a sliding payment scale, or is it fixed rates?
Dr. Jan Pol: No. No. We cannot charge either because most of the time if you have people that, "Oh, we can't afford it," then we have to charge. And, "Can we make payments?" That never works. And the cost of keeping the books then would be a lot higher, and dishonest. I've said many times, "If you cannot sell them a Cadillac, you sell them a Ford. [laughter]." And people that have puppies that did not get vaccinated, and have parvo, yes you can keep them in the clinic, put them on IV, but if you tell the people, "Take them home, and this is how you take care of them at home," they do that too.
Michelle Tompkins: Now who do you think would like to watch your show?
Dr. Jan Pol: Who would like to watch the show? The youngest girl that came to the clinic to visit us was 17-months-old, in diapers, with a grin on her face from ear to ear, and fist-bumped me [laughter].
And, yes. She recognized me, she was watching the show with brothers and sisters and parents. And the oldest one that came to the clinic was 96-years-old on oxygen, we were on the bucket list [laughter]. Yeah. She had to meet us.
Michelle Tompkins: I'm glad she made it.
Dr. Jan Pol: Yes. So it's the whole family that watches the show.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, when can people see it and where?
Dr. Jan Pol: They can see it on Nat Geo Wild, Saturday nights, it's 9 o'clock at eastern standard time, 8 o'clock central time, and, yes, California sees it last I guess. [laughter]
Michelle Tompkins: They always do, but it starts on July 7 is that correct?
Dr. Jan Pol: Right. The new season starts on July 7.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, when you're not working, what do you like to do for fun?
Dr. Jan Pol: Work around the house, I love to work with wood. We have built a house about 10 years ago now and I'm still working on landscaping if I have time.
Michelle Tompkins: And is there any charity work that you'd like to mention?
Dr. Jan Pol: I work for 4-H an awful lot, this is where the kids raise animals and work with animals to take them to the fair and basically, show them off. And some animals get sold, some animals get taken home again, it all depends what animal it is, but that's what I do a lot of work with because I think it's important for these kids to get their own responsibility to take care of animals. And I think this is what is important, where they become responsible pet owners.
Michelle Tompkins: So how do you like people to connect with you?
Dr. Jan Pol: We love it, Diane and I are very well known basically, well, the show is actually broadcast in 28 countries the last I know. So guess, we have people from all over the world send us letters how they like the show and this is something that we never thought was going to happen, but we are very thankful that all these people are loving the show, they love the work we do, how we do it because we don't do anything for the camera. What you see on our show is real live veterinary work.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, are you on social media?
Dr. Jan Pol: I don't do that, I have somebody else doing it. I don't have time [laughter] for Facebook, Twitter, or anything like this. There are too many animals that need my attention.
Michelle Tompkins: Now, do some people watch you on the show and ask if they can bring their sick pet to you?
Dr. Jan Pol: Yes. We have people come in from all over the United States and Canada that would like to take their pets to us, but we cannot take all these people in, of course not[laughter].
We turn our local people away that want to become new clients because we are just too busy. And we just recently hired the fifth veterinarian in the practice.
Michelle Tompkins: Do you have a rough idea of how many animals you see a year, I mean you or your practice?
Dr. Jan Pol: I have no idea how many animals, but we tried to figure out one time, how many animals I've seen in the 50 years I've been practicing and it is over half a million [laughter].
Michelle Tompkins: I bet. Now, do you have any favorite animals that you really like to work with?
Dr. Jan Pol: Not really, like I said, any animal that needs help I think should help, but, yes. I like every animal. It doesn't make any difference what they are. And people have asked me many times, "What is your favorite animal?" And that's a healthy animal. It doesn't make a difference what animal, as long as it's healthy, I'm happy.
Dr. Pol can be seen on The Incredible Dr. Pol on Nat Geo WILD that returns on Saturday, July 7. Be sure to tune in.