We all love our pets. We all want the best for them. Catrina R. Mathewson, of Pro-Bone-O Veterinary Care (an Animal Farm Foundation grantee), says she sees this every day with the people and pets her organization serves.
“Pets are very important to our clients because pets offer security, hope, companionship and a reason for being alive. Some of our clients cite their pets as the reason they remain sober and are seeking safe housing.”
Catrina and the rest of the Pro-Bone-O team work with the homeless population of Lane County, Oregon. They provide free veterinary services on the 2nd and 4th Sunday of every month. On average, the clinic, staffed entirely by volunteers, serve 50-75 animals each day it’s open.
The volunteers consist of one to two licensed veterinarians, plus two to three certified vet techs, as well as three to five veterinary students from Oregon State University. There are also five to eight people who work the front of the house.
Catrina tells us that, for the organization, which was founded in 1998 and runs entirely on donations and grants, the goal is to make sure that homeless pets have access to the same level of care that a housed pet would receive at their veterinarian.
- Spay/neuter vouchers
- Life-saving procedures
- Wellness exams
- Pet licensing
- Flea treatment
- Pet food and other supplies
“Our work is important because these pets are very visible and exposed to the community. By keeping them healthy, we cut down on the stray pet population (through spay/neuters) and we stop the spread of infectious diseases (through vaccinations). Therefore, we are not only keeping our clients healthy, but we are protecting our community from the problems that could spread if these animals are not healthy.”
While the work does have an angle that is about safe and humane communities, it’s impossible to deny the role Pro-Bone-O plays in maintaining the human-canine bond.
Catrina told us about a dog named Candy and her elderly guardian. Candy’s guardian was in a wheelchair and often came to the clinic with an oxygen tank. The pair lived in a tent that was not within walking distance to the clinic, but that didn’t stop the man from making sure Candy got the care she needed.
“To get to the clinics, Candy’s dad would push his wheelchair to the nearest bus stop, ride the bus and then push himself the rest of the way to the clinic. This entire trip to the clinic, Candy rode content on her papa’s lap.”
Recently, the clinic volunteers learned that Candy and her guardian now reside in an assisted living facility.
“They are now safe and warm and able to live out the last of life together. The bond between the two was absolutely beautiful.”
There are countless stories similar to Candy’s and they highlight the importance of Pro-Bone-O’s work.
For the volunteers at Pro-Bone-O, the work they do does more than care for homeless pets. It reduces stigma and fosters a bond that every member of the community, both housed and homeless, can share.
“We try our best to show compassion and humanity to a population that is often marginalized and misunderstood. Our work unites the housed and unhoused as we share stories about our pets and bond over our love of animals.”
You can follow the Pro-Bone-O’s lifesaving work on their Facebook page.