Veterianarians International Benefit

Dr. Scarlett Magda working with elephants in Thailand. Photo: JP Pacca, Surin, Thailand

by Debbie Tuma

If you love animals, and want to see them live healthy lives, then there is an amazing charity event that you should attend. It is called “Wild at Heart,” it takes place at the Bridgehampton Tennis and Surf Club on August 3, and it benefits an important world-wide charity called “Veterinarians International.”
The founder of Veterinarians International is Dr. Scarlett Magda, who is herself a veterinarian who practices in Wainscott, Riverhead and Manhattan. She lives in Sagaponack, when she is not travelling for weeks at a time to different countries where she has teams of people working to help different animals—including elephants, chimps, donkeys, dogs, cats and horses.

Dr. Magda, 36, explained that her organization helps build capacity for enhanced animal care and healthy living conditions in communities around the world, to improve quality of life, reduce suffering, and mitigate the potential for disease transmissions.

“Since over 60 percent of human infectious diseases come from animals, it is important that we make sure these animals stay healthy and lead quality lives,” she said.
For that reason, Veterinarians International has numerous programs for different animals in different countires, such as a rabies prevention program in Kenya.

“Dogs transmit 98 percent of human rabies infection, and 30,000 people a year die from rabies globally,” she said.

Her group also has a “women empowerment goat program” in Haiti and Kenya, where women are the care providers for livestock, as in other third world countires. Dr. Magda said that 600 million impovershed people depend on livestock to survive, and two thirds of them are women.

“So we need to educate these women, to give them more knowledge about animal and human health,” she said.

Veterinarians International also has programs to help with the elephant crisis in Asia, where there are only 50,000 left, compared to 400,000 in Africa.

Dr. Magda was born in Canada, and her parents were both medical doctors who had immigrated from Eastern Europe to Italy, and then to Canada. Her love of travel and animals started at an early age, when she went on a Eco-Tour of Belize at 16, and worked in a zoo, primarily with monkeys. She later went to Costa Rica to work with turtles, and she went on to be a veterinarian.

Four years ago, she started the first benefit for Veterinarians International in Tribeca, and the next two years in East Hampton, and this year, the “Wild at Heart” Gala will be held at the Bridgehampton Tennis & Surf Club, at 231 Midocean Drive.

This year’s gala, on August 3, from 6:30 pm to 11:30 pm, features a cocktail reception hosted by animal activist and model Christie Brinkley, and also by Bellissima organic sparkling wines and spirits, as well as a sustainably sourced dinner with Christine Evangelista and Dwayne Hill as Master of Ceremonies. Also featuring music entertainment with DJ, model and artist Alexandra Richards, and a live and silent auction with world class auctioneer Harry Santa-Olalla. The auction includes a trip to see Thailand’s elephants with Dr. Magda; art from Paul Gerben and Paul Christopher; a day with artist April Gornik; and a visit with “Toy Story” creator Alec Sokolow in his home. The night will also include a bonfire and drumming on the ocean beach.

At this event, author and researcher Dr. Carl Safina will be honored for his 7 books and his TV series, “Saving the Ocean with Carl Safina.” He will be honored for his work exploring the relationship between humans and the natural world. Presenting the award will be legendary oceanographer Dr. Sylvia Earle.
For further information and to purchase tickets, visit