East Manatee Fire Rescue offering pet ambulance service

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MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. -- East Manatee Fire Rescue (EMFR), in collaboration with Vet Care Express Animal Ambulance, now provides ambulance services for pets.

EMFR is the first Fire Department to offer this type of service for pets. With over 62% of all households owning at least one pet, Fire and EMS personnel are increasingly seeing pets involved in emergency situations including vehicle accidents, owner accidents, and structure fires.

Seeing this increase in their own district, EMFR Deputy Chief Lee Whitehurst met with Vet Care Express Animal Ambulance to see if they would be able to help provide service in these types of incidences.

Vet Care Express Animal Ambulance has proven to be the perfect fit for this type of service, with over 3,400 pet transports over the last 4 years.

"Pets are members of our family and pet owners need and deserve this type of emergency service for their pets. This is what we are equipped, experienced and trained for and we're thrilled to be able to team up with East Manatee Fire Rescue to help" says Cheryl Brady, Owner of Vet Care Express.

Vet Care Express Animal Ambulance specializes in providing both emergency and non-emergency transport for pets throughout Manatee and Sarasota Counties 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“The matter between a few seconds earlier arriving here can make the difference between life and death, and I think it's extremely important because we are a 24/7 facility, the faster they get here the faster we can treat them and possibly save their lives,” said Dr. Lesleigh Redavid.

Veterinarian Dr. Redavid, medical director of the ICU of Sarasota Veterinary Emergency and Specialty Center says there are many situations in which animals may need an ambulance.

“Being hit by a car is definitely something where life is of the essence if they're in shock, or they’re bleeding.”

The pet is picked up in a specially equipped animal ambulance and transported to the hospital.

“We have a gurney and a stretcher for large dogs that are down to keep them as comfortable as possible,” explains Cheryl Brady.

Brady, of Vet Care Express, says there's a real need for the ambulance. The owner may be too anxious, not drive at night, or not know how to provide first aid care to their pet.

“It's really critically important that someone who’s trained, experienced and professional and properly equipped, you know, is first to a scene and helping a pet.”

Oxygen may be used for pets transported from home or between hospitals, but pets come in all sizes.

“We have a specially made oxygen box for small dogs, for cats, heart patients, respiratory patients,” Brady said. “We've really been able to save a lot of lives with that.”

Brady even teaches a pet CPR course that will get you a Red Cross certification and possibly save your pets life.

If the animal ambulance arrives on scene before a people ambulance, they can’t take the person—but with authorization from the owner they'll take the pet.

“We take the pet if it's critical or serious, it goes to the closest emergency hospital; if the owner has a preference then we take it to the hospital of their choice.”

What does having an animal ambulance mean for pet lovers?

“I think it makes other people realize that we are able to treat pets almost equivalent to human beings in medicine,” says Dr. Redavid.

Dr. Redavid says every specialist you can think of for humans, we now have the equivalent of in veterinary medicine—and a lot of people aren’t aware of that.

“So, I think that now that we're getting a veterinary ambulance it's also saying listen, they're just as important as people.”