BROWNSVILLE, Texas (KVEO) — When Antonio Caldwell and his wife returned home from work Monday evening, they noticed one of their dogs behaving unusually.
Then they noticed their schnauzer, Pepper, had a gash in his neck and immediately began searching for a nearby vet.
“We called one just a few blocks away and they said they were not able to take us,” Caldwell said. “I pleaded and tried to express how severe the injury was.”
The Weekend Vet is the second Brownsville clinic Caldwell contacted that was unequipped to handle the emergency situation. His only option was to drive an hour to McAllen’s Pet Doctor 9-1-1, a 24-hour facility.
“I can’t tell you how terrifying and how agonizing that hour drive is as you see your pup, bleeding, whimpering and crying and is in your arms,” Caldwell said. “It seemed it took forever for us to get there.”
Both The Weekend Vet and Companion Hospital say they turned Pepper away due to being too full and handling other critical situations, but Caldwell believes they could have done more.
“I think there was something they could have done, then sent us on our way to McAllen that was absolutely the necessity, but there wasn’t anything done to treat even something temporarily,” he said.
The experience opened his eyes to the dire need for an emergency care facility in the lower valley. Since posting about the scare to social media, he’s been in contact with a few agencies pushing for the same.
“I’m very optimistic we have got the ball rolling, but we want to keep the momentum,” Caldwell said.
I think that’s very important.”
Pet Doctor 9-1-1’s public relations director says as the only emergency clinic in the area, they receive patients from all four RGV counties.
“Right now we have clients that come as far as Roma to the west and as far as South Padre Island, Brownsville, Boca Chica to the east,” Austin Smith said.
The clinic opened in 2013 and Smith says they do plan on opening another facility in Harlingen that’s twice as big, but those plans are on a temporary hold.
“As soon as things become predictable with COVID, then we’re going to go ahead and begin construction,” he said. “ But right now the construction phase of this project is pending”
For now, Caldwell is remaining active in his pursuit and plans to meet with others interested in the cause on Friday to determine the next steps.
Pepper did require a surgery and will be on antibiotics for the next few weeks, but Caldwell says they were lucky and his pet will be ok.