It’s Thursday morning and veterinarian Dr. Scott Sims shuffles — in bare feet — between two patients at his Kilauea clinic.
One is a golden retriever puppy that, to Sims’ surprise, is recovering from being struck in the head by a vehicle the night before. The puppy is lying on a blanket on the floor of an operating room, shaking but conscious and looking around.
“I didn’t think he was going to make it,” Sims says.
The other, a large sedated husky, has just had ultrasounds and X-rays done to make sure the cancer in his mouth has not spread to his organs. After confirming that it hasn’t, Sims moves the dog to an operating table and removes tumors from inside its mouth using a laser. The dog’s owners watch the procedure — standard operating practice at Pegasus Vet Clinic.
In the midst of the commotion, several other Kauai resident arrive, with dogs in tow, to pick up medication or have an animal vaccinated.
One customer is Kapaa resident Montana Knightsbridge. She’s here to have her newly adopted chocolate Lab/German pointer mix, named Hershey’s Kiss, checked out for what she believes is kennel cough.
Knightsbridge has been bringing dogs to Sims for years and thinks the world of him.
“This man, honestly, he needs sainthood,” she joked. “I call him Saint Scott.”
Sims is not your typical vet. He marches to the beat of his own drum. And for that reason, Nat Geo WILD has decided to air a reality TV series about him called “Aloha Vet.”
“A series of eight shows, one hour each, about me,” Sims laughed. “Isn’t that bizarre?”
Nat Geo Wild, a sister network of the National Geographic Channel, is a cable/satellite TV channel focused on animal-related programs.
Sims said the whole thing started about a year ago when he was working on professional surfer Laird Hamilton’s dog after it had been mauled by a neighbor’s pit bull.
“Laird came into the clinic one day to recheck on his doggie and he was dragging a film crew around with him,” Sims recalled.
When the crew asked if they could come in and shoot some film, Sims said sure — the more the merrier. At one point, in the middle of operating on Hamilton’s dog, Sims recalls turning around to find the camera aimed directly at his bare feet.
“I think the bare feet caught their attention,” he said. “They seemed to like the fact that I treat a pretty wide variety of animals, and I’m a little unconventional.”
A couple of days later, Sims got a call from Shine America, a production company in Los Angeles.
“They said, ‘How would you like to have a reality TV show about you?’ And I said, ‘Well, OK,’” Sims said.
So, a Nat Geo WILD film crew flew to Kauai and followed Sims around for the better part of two months.
“Dr. Scott Sims is one of Hawaii’s best-kept local secrets,” states a release about the premiere. “He’s known as the Barefoot Vet and he’s not your typical veterinarian. Dr. Sims treats both wild and domestic animals, and when islanders need help with their pets, he’s the one they call. Some clients live in hard to reach locations, but if an animal is hurt Dr. Sims always finds a way to get there, even if he has to walk, ride a horse, drive an ATV, fly a plane or swim.”
Sims said he and the crew had some great adventures together, from tagging sharks on Oahu to rescuing a sea turtle entangled in fishing line and saving an unconscious horse stuck in a river bed.
Nat Geo said Sims’ phone never stops ringing. His hours are long, and he rarely gets a full night of sleep.
“With a heart of gold, Dr. Sims will help any animal that can walk, crawl, fly or swim,” the release states.
Sims doesn’t know if the cable channel will want him for a second season, or if he would even want to do one. Nevertheless, he considers the first a fun and interesting life experience.
“How many people can say that they had a national television show about them?” he said. “That’s kind of cool.”
So far, the project has not been a money maker for the Kauai vet. But if that changes, Sims says he will set up a nonprofit foundation to provide free veterinary care for Kauai residents.
“That would be pretty cool, to not have to charge people,” he said. “That would keep me out of doing the bookkeeping, which I hate so much, and would help people.”
“Aloha Vet” premieres Saturday, March 21 at 9 p.m. PT on Nat Geo WILD. For more information, visit www.natgeowild.com.