Community, Springfield

Something to bark about: Emergency vet seeks blood donations

SPRINGFIELD — At the Willamette Veterinary Hospital (Wilvet South) staff members such as Dr. Dan Lewer have seen their fair share of tough sights from the animals they’ve rescued. Take for example Java the bulldog, who swallowed an entire rubber ducky. 

“It sounds silly but that could be the difference between life and death,” Lewer said. “Accidents happen, and when heroic measures need to be taken, we get to be the heroes. Saving lives makes this all worth it.” 

Because his staff is trained to keep animals in stable condition in the event of injury, the dog came out of the accident just fine. 

BOB WILLIAMS / THE CHRONICLE Dr. Lewer and his team at Wilvet help Java, a pitbull admitted to their ER, remove a fully-intact rubber ducky from her stomach as seen in the X-ray above.

The Springfield area has many vet clinics that provide wellness checkups, surgeries and medications for pets. If your pet can manage to wait a day or so to get into an appointment, you’re covered — but if your cat decides to snack on your potted lilies on a Saturday afternoon, you’re out of luck to get treatment in town until Monday morning. 

That is, unless you decide to rush to one of the nearest 24/7 vet clinics, already burdened with long wait times. When time is of the essence, it’s the last thing any pet owner wants to do. 

Lewer said that it’s a complicated issue with a couple reasons 24/7 care is lacking. 

“Part of it is the availability of staffing, of course,” he said. “The other piece is in order to make it run financially, there needs to be adequate technology and community support.” 

With emergency vet care lacking in Springfield, getting timely critical care for animals like Java is a challenge — so Lewer and his team decided to step up, opening a Wilvet location in October of 2022. 

“We knew there was a need in this area to provide emergency veterinary care, because COVID impacted our profession. The animal space doubled and the number of vets didn’t. You do the math. There’s been increased demand for veterinary services,” he said. “And so, the hours to be available and the demands to be available have increased.”  

The million dollar emergency veterinary clinic offers a wide range of advanced veterinary services around the clock. 

Since opening its doors last year, Wilvet has made upwards of 250 medical and surgical appointments, treating small animals and exotics. 

The hospital, located on the corner of B and 4th St., has state-of-the-art equipment available, from CT, X-ray and ultrasound to a visiting MRI scanner. The highly trained team offers referrals to veterinary practices in orthopedic surgery, soft tissue surgery, neurosurgery, ophthalmology, oncology, internal medicine, and diagnostic imaging.

Dr. Dan Lewer

“We preach Best Medicine,” Lewer said. “We go the extra mile with our tech to be able to do the best by every patient we see.” 

The team at Wilvet turns five percent of their overall profits into a, “Good Samaritan Fund,” which helps struggling pet owners cover the cost of their procedures. 

“We facilitate care as often as we can,” Lewer said. “I devoted my life to helping animals via veterinary medicine, regardless of whether they have feathers, scales, or fur.” 

Wilvet also runs a blood donor program, aimed at supporting canines during sensitive and precarious procedures. 

“We deal with life and death, all day, 365 days a year and there are pets that need the benefit of whole blood, or blood products,” he said. “One donation can help save up to three patents.” 

Pets who enroll in the canine blood donor program are rewarded with free annual blood work, $25 for every donation, a can of food, and the satisfaction of helping those in need. Also, if the need should ever arise, your pet would receive free blood units equal to the number of units he or she has donated in their lifetime.

“Pet emergencies happen,” said Brooke Taliaferro, Wilvet nurse. “Without these donations we wouldn’t be able to do the blood transfusions that save lives.” 

In late March, the American Red Cross and Wilvet will be collaborating to host a blood drive, for both humans and their furry friends. 

“The event will help us show how much need there is in this community,” Lewer said. “And we hope to see you there.” 



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