Let the Dog Live


Dogs abandoned in Oregon suffer and die by the thousands.   But in the Salem area, volunteers give many a chance at life.  Hope’s Haven of Polk County and Dr. Arlene Brooks of Turner are two resources that these animals have going for them.

The problem of discarded dogs is significant; for lack of space and resources – and because of the sheer number of abandoned animals – most agencies and pounds cannot afford “no kill” policies.  Dogs who suffer fractures, neurological problems blindness, or who have experienced psychological damage that leaves them trembling, catatonic or aggressive – are considered “unadoptable.”

In the Salem area alone, thousands are euthanized every year.

“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. Arlene Brooks, 1994 Willamette Vet of the Year.  In the last six year, Brooks has treated 686 abused, gunshot, club battered and starving animals – her “kids” – through Homestead Vet Clinic’s Last Chance Club, her veterinarian home base.  Her donated medical and surgical services for this period are worth more than $300,000, and mean life itself to her patients.

Brooks often works alongside Marsha Chambers, who founded Hope’s Haven in Polk County.  In the past 20 years the Hope’s Haven dog rescue organization has saved the lives of more than 4,000 dogs.

Hope’s Haven receives animals from “kill” shelters in Oregon, Washington and Oregon, as well as from agencies who obtain dogs from “hoarders” (people who collect animals) and “flippers” (people who obtain animals for free and provide minimal, impersonal care before selling them.)

Once a dog has arrived at Hope’s Haven it receives a veterinary examination from either Dr. Brooks or Dr. Camille Connelly of Independence.  After treatment the animal stays with one of Hope’s Haven’s 30-odd volunteers where it is fostered, socialized and given affection until a “forever” home is found.

One recent wintery morning Dr. Connelly examined Whiskey, a frightened little terrier who had just arrived.  The dog nearly clung to volunteer Leanne Houngninou, who assisted.

Houngninou had paid for Whiskey herself just days before from a “flipper” in a nearby town.  She admitted the dog hated to be out of her sight ever since.  Deep feeling between the two was obvious.

Still, Houngninou plans to foster Whiskey – not keep him.  She coordinates volunteer foster homes for Hope’s Haven and is proud of how dogs are allowed to heal in foster situations while “forever homes” are found.  Fosterers can become deeply attached to the animals, as was already the case with her and Whiskey.  But the dogs go to their new families anyway because, as Houngninou explains, the volunteers work for a higher purpose.

“It breaks your heart every time,” she says.  “Every time a foster family or person gives up a dog, they cry.  I will for sure, to give up Whiskey.  The thing that helps is to know the animal goes to a ‘forever home,’ and that we made that possible.”

The Hope’s Haven website shows available animals and encourages both adoptions and fostering for “all the innocent dogs that have had their trust betrayed by unworthy guardians.”

Back in Turner, Dr. Brooks pats Jesse, a black shepherd who lost a leg from a bullet wound and who was her very first Last Chance Club patient.  He’s lived with her ever since.  Brooks’ wall is crowded with snapshots of many of the animals she has helped (some are also on the Last Chance Club website.)  It is typical of these animal advocates that she remembers the name of every animal.

She reflects on her figure, 686.  “I’m shooting for 1,000 before I quit,” she told us.  “Doesn’t it just sound marvelous?  To be able to say, ‘What did I do in my life?  I saved 1,000 dogs.’’’

11 thoughts on “Let the Dog Live”

  1. I read this article through a link on my facebook. The work that Hopes their volunteers and The Dr.’s is invaluable and makes such a difference in the lives of the dogs as well as the people. Thank you for writing and publishing it.

  2. This is such a great article on very important subject! So many people are totally unaware of what these animals are going thru. Hopes Haven is such a blessing to all of us, especially ones who have adopted one of these dogs! The volunteers are incredible people that give so much just to have there hearts broke on a regular basis. This article is wonderful, “Thank You” for taking the time to bring this to hopefully many, many people! They saved my dog, who has in turn saved me!

  3. What an amazing article on some amazing gals rescuing and saving dogs. They deserve such kuddos for the hard work they do to save dogs that no one else wants to help. Keep up the great work ladies.

  4. Great article about all involved. I volunteer for this organization and love it!
    We do great things and are proud of it. Some like the “fame and fortune” but Marsha is always last to “toot’ her own horn. I have seen some dogs that I think there is NO way we can make it better but…..with some medical care provided by our wonderful Foster families, add a little love and you have a dog that can be adopted out and move on to the next….One dog at a time.

  5. I Love Hopes Haven and Dr. Brooks. Marsha (founder of HH) is a gentle and loving spirit and the Doctor her angel.
    I have fostered for them and I am what’s called a foster failure. I could not give up my last foster. I fell in love with my Mr. Huck who was rescued.
    I hope one day when I retire I can spend everyday with them.
    Thank You Marsha and Dr. Brooks!!!!!!!!!!!

  6. Dr. Brooks, Dr. Connelly, and Marsha of Hope’s Haven are the personal miracle workers of the animal welfare community in Marion and Polk Counties. Their skill, attention to detail, and above all their value of each life defines their work, making them household names. Both Dr. Brooks and Marsha Chambers are recipients of Willamette Humane Society’s Humaneitarian Award.

  7. Feel free to visit both website and check them out



    I have volunteered for HH for 19 months, fostered numerous, fell in love with 4 whom I kept. All were spayed/neutered and had dentals done by Dr. Brooks. She has such a caring heart, was there when I had to make the hardest decision to let my first foster failure cross the rainbow bridge, she cried crocodile tears with me when we let him go.

    Both Marsha and Dr. Brooks remember each dog and love to hear updates on how they are doing and seeing pictures.

  8. Many thanks for recognizing Marsha (Hopes Haven) and Dr. Brooks. I’ve voluntereed for Hopes Haven for 3 years and have never seen such a committment to helping the many hopeless dogs that have suffered abuse and neglect. Hopes Haven and Dr. Brooks don’t turn down the medically needy dogs that other rescues refuse. I am so honored to volunteer and work with such incredible women.

  9. What a great article about some awesome work being done! I learned of Dr Brooks from Marsha, from whom I adopted my dog Lacie in July. What I can’t understand is, why wasn’t Lacie taken to see Dr Brooks to receive treatment? She had an infected dog bite wound near her ear and Marsha told the owner to have her vet care taken care of, and the owner said she did but never provided Marsha with any paperwork, and it was still infected when she turned her over to Marsha, and when Marsha adopted her to me.

    So 6 months later I am just now getting to know Lacie’s real personality, and only now getting to cuddle and kiss her. Why? Because since right after adopting her Lacie has been wearing a hard e-collar and under constant vet care for that bite wound, which was severely infected with some of the worst bacteria (including MRSA staph and e-coli).

    Also, the bite tore her ear canal loose at the back. I only learned this detail recently after I had to take her to a board certified surgeon for over $3000 (after the substantial discount she allowed me because I’m disabled and on a small fixed income).

    We went to this surgeon after my specialist Internist had done 2 surgeries (after Tualatin Emergency had done the first surgery when she had an enormous abscess), and my Internist was doing everything he could to try to resolve the problem and avoid the fee of a board certified surgeon which would be very high. Despite *significant* discounts it cost me well over $2000.

    The problems are now resolved, but Lacie’s entire ear canal had to be removed. At least she’s not in pain anymore, which we now know had to be significant for all this time.

    I didn’t contact Marsha about this when it first came about because the adoption contract has very strong and detailed wording that Hope’s Haven has no responsibility for any health problems after adoption, so there was no point.

    I did recently contact Marsha, at the urging of the surgeon, to see if there was possibly any money in the kitty to help with costs, and I have a gofundme page that I asked if she could post on her Facebook page (neither of which she can help me with, but she said she’d post it on her personal page, which I can’t find).

    She was very upset that Lacie was in pain all this time (I felt as if she was blaming me?) and with the vet care/surgeon costs. She told me that Dr Brooks could’ve taken care of it all for $100. And according to Dr Brooks’ website, she could’ve.

    So why wasn’t Lacie taken to see Dr Brooks before she was put up for adoption? Hope’s Haven didn’t take her to the vet at all. And I won’t go into detail, but I was misled about her having seen the vet and treatment, before and at the time of adoption.

    With all the wonderful things I read about Hope’s Haven on various websites, I don’t understand why Lacie didn’t get the benefit of going through the normal steps, especially with this huge bite wound on her head/the side of her face, and she suffered through a lot of pain for 6 months, as well as a ton of stress and terror – she was terrified every time she had to go to the vet, which was usually weekly. She would try to bite everyone so had to be muzzled during handling. And I don’t know how long it will take for me to pay for the bills, but it will be many years. I’m really sad and upset over all of this.

  10. It’s curious that a not-gushing comment I left about Marsha, Hope’s Haven, and neglect for the health care of my dog was awaiting moderation and still has not been posted. What about making the truth available to the public? Censoring less than glowing comments would be pretty shady. The age of the original post isn’t relevant, the page still comes up with a Google search, so people read it. I’d like to think there’s simply a delay in approving my comment due to the holidays, and that it will be posted very soon.

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