Cuban immigrant opens one of the first emergency pet hospital in Utah County and launches nonprofit to provide veterinary care to pets in need

SALT LAKE CITY — Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah announced today it awarded Orem veterinarian Yoeny Calas-Dobson the 2008 Latino Hero Award. The award is part of Regence’s ongoing commitment to the Latino community, and it honors individuals of Latino descent who have given back to the community and have impressive professional or educational accomplishments.

"Dr. Yoeny Calas-Dobson, who immigrated to the United States when she was 2 years old, has become a successful veterinarian, entrepreneur and philanthropist in the Orem-Provo area," said Francisco Garbayo, Regence emerging markets manager. “Her compassion and dedication to the community truly embody the spirit of Regence’s Latino Hero Award."

Dr. Calas-Dobson and her husband own and operate Riverwoods Pet Hospital in Orem, the first emergency pet hospital in Utah County, as well as a nonprofit organization that helps treat animals whose owners can’t afford veterinary care. She is also an active volunteer and board member for American Indian Services and provides free veterinary care to several reservations.

As an entrepreneur, Dr. Calas-Dobson created the O-Bar, a nutritional, high-protein treat for pets made from ostrich meat. She also hosted her own radio talk show called “Petwise Radio,” and is frequently featured on KUTV News offering advice to pet owners.

“The Regence Latino Hero Award was created to honor Latinos making significant contributions to the community, and it is part of Regence’s larger Latino outreach program focusing on health education,” continued Garbayo. “At Regence we understand and honor the changing face of our communities.”

As the recipient of the Hero Award, Dr. Calas-Dobson will receive $2,000, which she plans to donate to American Indian Services, and be featured in a Regence advertising campaign. For more information about Regence in Spanish, visit

About Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah
Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah is a leading health plan in Utah, with more than 400,000 members, offering health, life and dental insurance. Regence is the largest health insurer in the Northwest / Intermountain Region, serving three million members as Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Utah, Regence BlueCross BlueShield of Oregon, Regence BlueShield (in Washington) and Regence BlueShield of Idaho. Each plan is a not-for-profit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Regence is committed to improving the health of our members and our communities, and to transforming our health care system. For more information, please visit