Oregon State University
Skip navigation

Vet Gazette

Oregon State University College of Veterinary Medicine eNewsletter

OSU Alum Makes A Career of Medical Rescue

March 3rd, 2014
Art by Dr. Arlene Brooks, Class of 1990.

Art by Dr. Arlene Brooks, Class of 1990.

Dr. Arlene Brooks veterinary career began in a conventional manner then took a turn down a road less travelled, which is an apt metaphor for a woman who spent a lot of her college years driving.

As a student living in Salem, Oregon in the 1980s, Brooks drove to and from Corvallis every week day. “I spent two and a half years driving an hour and a half to and from OSU while farming full-time . . . and then there was Pullman,” she says. At that time OSU veterinary students spent much of their second and third years at WSU in Pullman, Washington.

Like many new DVMs, Brooks began her career as an associate and then opened her own veterinary practice in a “self-remodeled, century house in Salem”. Over the years, Brooks concern for shelter animals, and close relationship with Hopes Haven shelter and the Humane Society of the Willamette Valley (HSWV), brought her more and more pro-bono work saving desperately ill rescue animals. She also assisted HSWV investigators with more than 400 cruelty cases.

The problem of homeless pets in Oregon is significant; thousands are euthanized every year. With limited space and funds, many shelters can’t affort to pay veterinarians to save pets with fractures, neurological problems, and other serious illnesses. These animals are nearly impossible to adopt out and are the first to be euthanized. “When I see these kids come through, with no decent chance in life, all I can do is help them one at a time,” says Dr. Brooks. In the past six years, she has treated hundreds of abused, gunshot, battered and starving animals through Homestead Vet Clinic’s Last Chance Club, her veterinarian home base.  She estimates her donated medical and surgical services for this period are worth more than $300,000, but they are priceless to the animals whose lives she has saved.

In 2006, Brooks relocated her practice to Turner, Oregon to focus primarily on rescue medicine. On her farm, she has six dogs (5 of them rescues), including a black shepherd who lost a leg from a bullet wound and who was her very first Last Chance Club patient.

Brooks’ website has a page full of photos of many of the animals she has helped. One of her most challenging cases lately was a double-cecal ileocolic intussception bowel resection on a Shepherd mix in shock with a 27,000 WBC. Happily, the dog survived and was adopted. She has had many similary happy endings in her career, but her favorite was the terrier puppy of a family with four little girls; she performed double FHO surgeries to save his life.

Many OSU graduates donate their time and skill to pro-bono work. For those who are thinking about doing more, she encourages them to contact their local shelters and rescue groups, and to offer reduced costs to low-income clients. “Many of my Last Chance Club cases are referrals,” she says, “because a pet is facing euthnasia when an owner cannot afford commercial prices,” she says.

Dr. Brooks estimates she has helped more than 800 dogs, but she isn’t ready to retire yet. “I’m shooting for 1,000 before I quit,” she says.  “Doesn’t it just sound marvelous?  To be able to say, ‘What did I do in my life?  I saved 1,000 dogs.’’’

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Comments are closed.

Recent posts


March 2014
  • Categories

  • Popular Tags