There are plenty of animal lovers across Central Oregon. But what happens when they can’t afford to take care of their furry four-legged companions?
There is a group working to make sure everyone has access to affordable pet care no matter where they live. It’s called Companion Animal Medical Project (CAMP).
Johannah Johnson-Weinberg founded the group two years ago to improve access to veterinary care.
There’s a big need for check-ups, vaccines and food for these critters who are more than just pets to their human companions.
“I don’t have children and these are like my kids,” said one owner.
“Oh, I have kids, but they’re all grown and she’s like my kid,” said Susan Jones, Angel’s owner.
“He’s basically just like anybody else in the family,” said Jayson Clemans, Obie’s owner.
“We all unconditionally love our animals and want to make sure they have what they need to thrive and be well.” said Johannah.
And that feeling extends to pet owners no matter where they live.
“There’s really no difference between owning an animal housed or unhoused,” said Johannah. “We don’t ask and prod those personal questions. We just kinda say ‘What do you need today and how can we help.'”
CAMP helps because of what these animals mean to their owners.
“Their mental health, their physical health, their sense of hope, a sense of responsibility,” said Johannah.
CAMP’s work evolved into clinics like one recently in La Pine, where they partnered with FIXbend to offer expanded services like microchipping.
In February of 2020, CAMP held its first event at a Bend church. But COVID-19 forced them to pivot to the field.
“I don’t think I had started CAMP with the specific idea of serving the houseless population,” said Johannah “I just set out to alleviate barriers to veterinary care. The need for folks living outdoors became very apparent.”
CAMP has spayed and neutered 182 pets.
But sometimes all that’s needed is a little reassurance.
“Having a vet, like professional, say you’re doing a great job like you’re doing really well by your pet and your companion. People just want to know that their companion is OK,” said Johannah.
A monthly on-site clinic in Redmond is the root of CAMP’s mission.
These volunteers provide more than a vet check. They’re easing a burden for those living in stressful situations.
“It really is what kinda connects us all together. We have different experiences and are going through different things, but we come together to support the pets and we can all just relate on that and love them. So it’s pretty cool,” said Johannah.
And an update as you watch the video above. Two dogs named P.B. and Jay, whose owners living in the camps made the difficult decision to give them up, have been adopted!