“It is with a very heavy heart that I report that my favorite avian vet, mentor, and supporter, Dr. Peter Sakas, owner of Niles Animal Hospital, has died from complications of COVID-19.
His quiet demeanor and self-deprecating humor masked a deep-seated compassion and a heart of gold, as well as a kind and generous soul. He cared for many animals that would not otherwise have had a chance and treated gravely injured wildlife, including a red-tailed hawk I picked up.
He was always willing to work a patient into his schedule, respond to an email, or tell an awful joke. He cared deeply for his patients and was always willing to go the extra mile. He performed an oviductectomy on my favorite parakeet Regina Coeli, giving me a bit more time with her; he was there when I had to make difficult decisions about life-or-death matters, always giving me time to think things through and supporting me in my decisions about those life-or-death matters, which is always important for the owner of a companion animal, no matter how small.
His vast knowledge of animal care was hidden behind a quiet humility and a great sense of humor. We were necropsying a chicken one day, and he said, “Do you know what that is?” pointing to an organ. I said “No, I don’t.” And he responded, “Neither do I!” [It was the spleen. Of course he knew this!]
On another occasion I brought in my male Japanese quail Tweedledee and Tweedledum because they had foam in their droppings. I was concerned about parasites. The computers were down that day, and Dr. Sakas did a number of tests – CBC, fecal, gram stain – and nothing turned up, even after examining the foam under a microscope. He sent me home with antibiotics. Once I got home, I did a little online research and was quite amused to find that nature had duped him. As it turns out, male Japanese quail have a foam gland right above the cloaca. The foam aids in sperm motility. We had a good laugh over that one.
His generosity added greatly to my current body of knowledge as a chicken consultant: He let me shadow him in clinic; he reviewed my necropsy photos and notes; he cared for many of my own birds; he believed in me, supported me, respected me.
He was generous, kind, patient, soft-spoken, and so knowledgeable. The animals of Chicagoland are poorer for this loss. My condolences to his family and the staff of Niles Animal Hospital.
Dr. Sakas, you will be greatly, unimaginably missed.”
Requiescat in pace.
Written by fellow community member Jennifer Murtoff