The Call that Changed it All
Static buzzed over the line a moment before a desperate voice came through. The caller, Celia, had heard about Oregon Humane Society’s Community Veterinary Hospital (CVH) and made the call hoping that it would be the answer for Tequila, her normally spry Chihuahua, whose mouth was swollen and in pain.
Berenice Melson was the OHS team member from the Community Resource Center (CRC) who took Celia’s call. The team at the CRC is often the public’s first point of contact with OHS. Their job is to connect the community to resources at OHS and beyond, especially when pet owners need help finding veterinary care or support. This department was opened alongside the CVH to better facilitate the needs of the community.
Celia’s first language is Spanish, so the call routed to Berenice, a bilingual staff member. The moment they spoke, they had an instant bond and a shared goal of getting help for Tequila.
Berenice was touched by Celia’s deep connection with little Tequila. She had raised him since he was a puppy and taken all the right steps when she first noticed that he was in pain. But after a visit to her regular veterinarian, she left disheartened.
Community Resource Center
Need help with a pet in your home or community? Our Community Resource Center is here to help seven days a week.
Finding a Solution
Celia wasn’t short on love for Tequila, but the quote she received for his care was far beyond what she could afford. She was afraid her only choice would be to surrender Tequila to ensure he could get the care that he needed. This is an all-too-common conversation that OHS staff have had with many loving pet owners. Thankfully, because of donor support, the CVH opened in 2022 to aid pets and their families in the same situation as Celia and Tequila.
Berenice helped book Tequila an appointment at the CVH. Knowing that Celia only spoke Spanish, Berenice made plans to be there for her as an interpreter so Celia would be fully informed on the services OHS could provide without any communication barriers.
After an exam and x-rays, it was determined that Tequila was suffering from a tooth abscess. He was in serious pain, making even the most basic activities, like eating, extremely challenging. The abscessed tooth would need to be pulled. Though the procedure wasn’t complex, Tequila would have to be under anesthesia for dental surgery which significantly increases the cost of care. The CVH team worked with Celia to get the bill to a number she could afford.
The day of Tequila’s surgery, Celia took Berenice’s hands in hers, tears in her eyes, and asked her to promise that Tequila would be okay. All her love and hope for her lifelong friend was radiating through her touch—this was the moment she had been waiting for.
Expert Care at the CVH
As promised, OHS’ expert medical team ensured Tequila received the best care from start to finish. When the surgery was complete, Berenice snapped a photo of Tequila nestled cozily inside Dr. Vanessa Gross’ jacket and sent a text message with the photo to Celia—her fur baby was already feeling relief and ready to go back home!
When Celia picked up Tequila the joyful reunion in the lobby melted every heart in the room. This is why the CVH was built—to provide critical care that saves animal lives and gives pet owners hope.
The CVH and the Community Resource Center are essential resources for our community, but the demand is high. With rising cost of inflation, care for all the animals at OHS is increasing, at both our Portland and Salem campuses. Your support today can help ensure passionate, caring families like Celia don’t have to give up their beloved animals like Tequila because of medical costs, and shelter animals can get the medical help they need. Join us in being a hero for more pets and people and helping create a More Humane Society.
Community Veterinary Hospital
Our skilled team is accepting new patients for preventative care. Book your pet’s appointment today.
Sunday–Thursday, 7:30 a.m.–5:30 p.m.
7865 NE 14th Pl., Portland, OR 97211