Oregonians clearly love pets—64 percent of us have at least one. And the Oregon Humane Society (the Pacific Northwest’s largest humane society) finds homes for more than 11,000 pets annually.
But between food and supplies, caring for our best friends isn’t cheap. For some Oregonians, just taking care of the basics is all that’s possible. And medical care—shots and medications, even emergency procedures—might feel completely out of reach.
But come 2018, there will be relief for some.
Say hello to Pongo One, a new 23-foot, 12,000-pound mobile veterinary hospital from Portland-based nonprofit the Pongo Fund. Starting in the new year, Pongo One will begin serving financially stressed Oregon and Southwest Washington residents—including the homeless, seniors, veterans, survivors of domestic violence, and residents of low-income housing—at no cost.
According to Larry Chusid, founder of the 9-year old Pongo Fund, the Pongo One mobile clinic will visit local shelters, homeless camps, and other organizations serving those in need, where licensed veterinarians will serve the owners' dogs and cats to treat medical issues like dental disease, diabetes, and mobility concerns.
“Everyday, there are countless numbers of pets in need of vital and critical care," says Chusid. "But financially burdened families face the daunting task of not just finding that care but getting to that care and paying for that care."
Since 2009, the Pongo Fund—a pet food bank—has served more than 100,000 pets throughout the region, providing nearly 10,000,000 high-quality meals to animals in need. The connections Chusid developed through the Pongo Fund led him to realize that adequate medical care was also a major concern. Eventually, Pongo One became possible after some generous donations.
Pongo One features a deluxe surgical suite, comprehensive laboratory, digital X-ray, and pharmacy. According to Chusid, it’s set up to provide advanced veterinary services including exams, lab work, X-rays, vaccinations, dentals, spay and neuter procedures, and life-saving surgeries for dogs and cats.
“We will be there for those who need us most," Chusid says, adding that the hope is to "change history for thousands of hungry and hurting dogs and cats—and for the people who love them.”