Local vet team makes a (Santa) run for it

Halsey East staff

Halsey East staff

This time of year we sometimes hear “It’s better to give than to receive” so often it begins to feel like commercial banter empty of the spirit of the original adage.  Then there are those who live the adage, not only reminding us of its power, but lifting our spirits along the way. 

On Sunday Dec. 15, Spot tagged along as the staff of Halsey East Animal Clinic loaded into a bus — accompanied by a pickup loaded with boxes and sacks — and set off to act on their belief that “The best way to be grateful is to give back.” 

Organized by office manager Donna Police in a mere three weeks, the clinic, along with help from vendors and area merchants, was able to donate over 2000 lbs of pet food, pet supplies, hats, gloves, scarves, sweatshirts and blankets to area organizations dedicated to getting supplies and aid to those who need it most.  Halsey East is not a large corporate business, but a family-owned neighborhood pet clinic in business for over 45 years, providing loving quality pet care to generations of some of the same families. 

Before boarding the bus Sunday, the staff gathered for a hearty lunch provided by second-generation clinic owner, Stephen Vockert, DVM.  The bus was a comfy limo style, large enough to accommodate the many staff members eager to help out.  The departing bus was filled capacity. 

Happy holiday meals for the cats and dogs at Dignity Village.

Happy holiday meals for the cats and dogs at Dignity Village.

First stop was Dignity Village, a City of Portland enabled encampment, or tent city, for homeless people.  The camp has many identities in political circles, attached to equally numerous opinions — but all that mattered to the Halsey East staff was that the people and pets living there could really use a little kindness.  Police says, “Our intention was to meet the people and feel connected,” and clearly they did.  Immediately upon the bus’s arrival villagers, along with their beloved cats and dogs, joined in to help distribute the gifts of warm and colorful hats, scarves, socks, gloves, blankets and shirts that Halsey East staff had purchased just for them.

Next stop . . . this is Portland after all . . . Starbucks — where everyone warmed up with beverages as the evening chill settled in. The stop proved a blessing; the next stop, at PAW (Portland Animal Welfare) Team, was COLD — pipes had broken in the cold snap.  The damage included flooding, which somehow made it twice as cold inside as the arctic temps outdoors.  Clinic staff bundled up and listened intently to PAW Team’s Executive Director Cindy Scheel discuss the organization, which provides veterinary care to pets of very low income folks experiencing homelessness.  While at PAW Team, additional donations were loaded and sent off to the House of Dreams, a local cat shelter working closely with PAW Team.

The back of the bus was loaded with gifts as well as a pickup full of goods which followed behind the bus.

The back of the bus was loaded with gifts as well as a pickup full of goods which followed behind the bus.

As a foggy golden glow settled over downtown, the bus rolled to the next stop:  the Portland Rescue Mission.  Now comfortable with the routine, vet staff disembarked and moved to the pickup to load boxes and bags they then carried through the open, welcoming doors of the mission.  Portland Rescue Mission relies heavily on gifts and donations, and their procedures for accepting same are well organized.  Donors are directed to open the lid of a large culvert-like tube in the floor and drop items directly in — where packages slide quickly to the floor below for sorting and distribution.

In addition to donations made during the tour, gifts were also bestowed upon the group Potluck in the Park, an organization providing hot meals each Sunday to homeless folks in downtown Portland, that will feed over 1500 people on Christmas Day.

The last stop of the day was Other Mother’s, a very small rescue caring for dogs and cats that are pregnant or with litters, providing the labor-intensive care needed until babies and mothers are ready to be homed. 

Back at the clinic, the end of this day found a very happy, tired and thoughtful group return to their cars and soon homes, where provision was a given. 

Will the group make a Santa run again next year?  Donna Police says if they do, she’ll start planning in July, not the end of November.  One can only imagine what these folks will accomplish with that kind of head start!

Kudos to Donna for her tireless, joyful handling of this special day — from concept to execution — and to her fellow Halsey East crew members who leant their hearts and hands.  In addition to blessing the recipients of their efforts and donations, the group reminds us all that any group, large or small, can give in a very big way. 

Cozy on the bus!

Cozy on the bus!

For additional information of the organizations in this story please visit the following web sites. 

Dignity Village:  DignityVillage.org

PAW Team:   PAWTeam.org 

House of Dreams:  KittyDreams.org

Potluck in the Park:  PotluckInThePark.org

Portland Rescue Mission:  PortlandRescueMission.org

Other Mother’s:  OtherMothers.com

Halsey East Animal Clinic:  HalseyEastAnimalClinic.com


View all the photos from the day on Spot's Facebook page!  


Marty Davis is a Portland writer and event photographer. She live in North Portland where is she closely watched over by Shasta, a bossy Aussie Shepherd.   She is herded on a daily basis.