X-rays are coming for Salem’s shelter pets.

Alan Frisby has spent nearly three years transporting Salem’s sick dogs and cats up Interstate 5.

As a volunteer for the Oregon Humane Society’s Salem campus, she is tasked with transporting animals to the nonprofit’s main campus in Portland when they need X-rays or dental work.

“I try to make the ride as smooth and stress-free as possible,” he said.

But Ferris will soon have far fewer beloved passengers in the back seat.

The Oregon Humane Society broke ground Thursday on an expanded clinic at its Salem building on Southeast Turner Road that will add digital radiology and a new exam room to the shelter’s in-house veterinary care.

When the expansion opens around June, it will mean dozens of pets no longer have to travel to Portland for medical care each year.

X-rays are common in veterinary medicine for diagnosing animals that can’t always tell what’s wrong.

“We don’t know if the puppy ate a rock or if something else is going on,” said Sharon Harmon, CEO of the Oregon Humane Society.

Becca Lulle, a veterinarian at the Salem shelter, said she usually needs X-rays to treat pets where the extent of the problem is unclear, as well as the cause of abdominal pain.

When the expansion opens, he won’t have to wait a day or two to schedule an animal to be transported and evaluated in Portland.

“It’s good to have that quick picture of what they need,” he said. The extra trip can mean four or five days longer at the shelter before an animal is finally adopted.

The $725,000 expansion is a two-bedroom retrofit in Salem that previously housed administrative staff.

Harmon said the rooms are empty because the Oregon Humane Society strengthened its administrative staff when it Merged with Salem-based Willamette Humane Society in 2022.Now, he said, they can use the space to better care for sick animals.

The expanded clinic will also allow the Salem shelter to perform more spay and neuter surgeries.

The Salem clinic has two full-time doctors and one part-time, as well as a “small army” of four veterinary technicians and veterinary assistants, said Dr. Steve Kochis, the humane society’s chief medical officer.

The expanded clinic will not require more staff, but it will give them the ability to provide better and more efficient care, including dental imaging.

“X-rays tell us a lot about the health of the tooth,” he said.

Donors have contributed approximately $550,000 to the cost of the project. Most of the donors are from Salem, Harmon said.

The Humane Society continues to raise funds while working on renovations.

“We’re really grateful for the community,” Harmon said.

Contact reporter Rachel Alexander: (email protected) or 503-575-1241.

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Rachel Alexander is the managing editor of the Salem Reporter. He joined the Salem Reporter when it was founded in 2018 and has covered the city’s news, education, nonprofits and everything in between. She has been a journalist in Oregon and Washington for a decade. Outside of work, she is a skater and board member with Salem’s Cherry City Roller Derby and can often be found with her nose buried in a book.

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