An interview with Nat Geo WILD’s ‘The Incredible Dr. Pol’

Season 13 returns Saturday, July 7 at 9 p.m.
Dr. Jan Pol (left) and his wife Diane visited The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday, June 25, 2018.

Dr. Jan Pol (left) and his wife Diane visited The Atlanta Journal-Constitution on Monday, June 25, 2018.

Originally posted Friday, July 6, 2018 by RODNEY HO/ on his AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

At age 75, Michigan vet Jan Pol could be long retired, enjoying his 60-acre farmhouse taking care of his own brood of three big dogs, two cats, three horses, chickens, peacocks, pheasants, geese and ducks.

But instead, he keeps on working because he feels an obligation to those pet owners who have animals most other vets will avoid.

And some of his more unusual cases have been chronicled over the past seven years and 12 seasons on Nat Geo WILD’s “The Incredible Dr. Pol.” Season 13, which was taped last year, begins Saturday at 9 p.m.

“Sometimes it’s a little harder to get up in the morning but once you get going, you better keep going because there’s a lot to do in a day,” he said in an interview at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution last month while promoting the show.

He has been a vet for nearly a half century. “They won’t let me retire,” he joked. The Netherlands native said he is one of just a handful of vets in Michigan who will accept any animal.

“People who own these animals need just as much as the animal itself,” he said. “If you can make the animal feel better, it makes people happy. That’s my goal in life.”

He said Nat Geo named him the “Incredible Dr. Pol” and it sometimes embarrasses him. “I’m not incredible,” he said. “I don’t know everything. If I don’t know it, I will try to look it up. Someone else has done it before. When you see me sewing up that boa constrictor, I didn’t know what anesthetic to use. I had to look it up.”

Dr. Pol spends a lot of time with cows. He’ll do pregnancy checks by placing his left arm up the cow’s rear end. Why his left? While in the Netherlands, he was told that people who are right-handed have more sensitivity in their left hand. And that’s the case with Dr. Pol. “I couldn’t do it with my right hand now,” he said.

Frequency certainly improves efficacy. One day last month, he did 100 cow pregnancy checks in about 90 minutes.

He always encourages families to have pets for their kids. “It gives you more empathy and good feeling,” he said. “Before he knows right and wrong, he’ll know not to pull a cat’s tail because the cat won’t play with him.”

Dr. Pol said even though he works full time, he and his wife Diane find time to travel. Their next destination: the Galapagos Islands, followed by a trip to his home country of Netherlands.

He said he’s more famous there than in the United States. “They don’t make their own stars,” he said. “If you want to be a star, you have to do it in a different language. I came to the States. Now, I’m on TV there. They’re proud of us.”


“The Incredible Dr. Pol,” returns for 13th season at 9 p.m. Saturday, July 7, Nat Geo WILD