By Marion V. Ali
Belize has a newly-trained aviary specialist in the person of Philip DeShield, 26, who returned home last Thursday from a sponsored avian veterinary course in the United States.
DeShield says he hopes to use his newly-acquired skills to assist the Belize Bird Rescue (BBR), the country’s only avian rescue and rehabilitative sanctuary; as well as other wildlife centres in the country.
DeShield spent two weeks “shadowing” and gaining hands-on experience at the California Wildlife Centre (CWC), USA. The CWC is a non-profit, donation-based centre that rescues, rehabilitates and treats native Californian wildlife in the Los Angeles county area. When DeShield arrived there, the centre had a high caseload, dealing primarily with birds suffering from trauma, and performing orthopedic repair and neonatal care. He told The Reporter that the course has increased his comfort level in handling wild bird species, and diagnosing, treating, and assessing their releasability.
The young vet is the son of the late Dr. Michael DeShield, the founder of the Animal Medical Centre (AMC) in Belize City.
The younger DeShield has followed in his father’s footsteps and started working at AMC in August, upon graduating from Purdue Veterinary School.
He was associated with the Belize Bird Rescue after he performed surgery to correct a limb deformity on a crane hawk.
DeShield said he has always liked working with wildlife and exotic animals, but never received formal training until now. He added that he felt a need to expand his knowledge-base and hands-on experience as Belize Bird Rescue began to expand and saw the need for more bird surgeries.
Belize Bird Rescue was willing to co-sponsor Deshield’s training, travel and lodging expenses along with Dr. Duane Tom, of the CWC in California.