Physician Profile: Debbie Wilson, M.D.: An Animal Advocate
Debbie Wilson, M.D., has always been surrounded by animals. As a child, there weren’t many pets her family didn’t have. As the oldest sibling, she took care of the family’s rabbits, birds, iguanas, rats, dogs, cats, hamsters, and guinea pigs. That experience, and her childhood proximity to vegetarian grandparents, set the stage for a lifetime of compassion and involvement in animal issues.
Dr. Wilson went to college with the dream of becoming a veterinarian. However, after working in veterinary clinics while in college, she decided to go to medical school instead because she was disturbed by the callousness with which people treated their own companion animals.
Dr. Wilson became an obstetrician, and over the course of 17 years, she delivered more than 5,000 babies. She now has a gynecological practice in Scottsdale, Ariz., and performs over 400 laparoscopic hysterectomies a year. Despite her busy medical practice, Dr. Wilson finds time to help animals in myriad ways. She runs a nonprofit parrot rescue called Feathers Foundation, which takes in unwanted parrots. “Parrots often outlive people’s interest level,” she said. She has 10 rescued horses on 28 acres of land in Prescott, Ariz., and fosters several dogs through the Lucky Dog Rescue.
As an Arizona resident, Dr. Wilson has spoken out against the proposal by Covance Laboratories to build a huge new animal experimentation laboratory. Dr. Wilson has written letters to the editor about the negative effects the facility would have on the city of Chandler. She participated in a news conference to educate the public about the dangers of a Covance facility. Dr. Wilson also introduces a new PCRM video that shows disturbing undercover footage from inside Covance facilities, highlighting the abuse of animals.
“People are very good at not dealing with what’s going on behind closed doors,” Dr. Wilson said about what takes place at Covance’s labs. But she tells her patients about the negative effects the facility could have on both human and animal health. “My patients from Chandler are horrified,” she said. “Not one person has said that this is OK with them.”