None of us want to experience an emergency with our pet, but sometimes critical situations arise and it’s best to be prepared for them. Having a plan to deal with a pet in crisis minimizes stress for both owner and animal. Unfortunately, this is the voice of experience speaking. I found myself in that situation when Bosun my yellow lab, was hit by a car four weeks ago. He was asleep in my driveway when someone backed over him with a truck! I wasn’t very far away and drove home at high speed to attend to him. I stabilized him, treated him for shock and gave him pain medication, but knew that his condition required specialized emergency care. So I hoisted him in the back of my car and drove one and a half hours to the Anne Arundel Veterinary Emergency Clinic (AAVEC) in Annapolis.
From where I live, the three not-so-close emergency clinics are relatively equidistant: VCA Newark Animal Hospital, Delmarva Emergency Animal Clinic (Dover) and AAVEC. I chose AAVEC because I know many of the docs, and am comfortable with their level of care. Bosun was x-rayed from nose to tail, put on fluid therapy and given more medication intravenously. He spent the night in order for doctors to monitor his vital signs. Incredibly, he suffered no fractures and no apparent internal injuries! Once month later, he is walking, eating and behaving relatively normally.
Many people share similar experiences. Pets require emergency care for vomiting and diarrhea, seizures, wounds, bee stings and lots of different types of trauma. Though advanced care such as that provided by tertiary care institutions like AAVEC is not close by, it is still accessible to us on the Shore, and in most cases, an injured animal can make it there without serious consequences due to the distance. And the quality of care is worth the drive. These facilities are staffed 24 hrs/day with highly trained doctors whose skill and expertise far surpass all but the most masterful general practitioner. The veterinary technicians show a technical proficiency which complements the doctors’ ability. Furthermore, the equipment available for advanced diagnostics as well as intensive care parallels that seen in any human hospital. It was a great comfort to me to have Bosun in such capable hands.
Yes, the bill was high. Yes, the receptionist asked me for a deposit prior to admitting my dog. They have to. It’s not because they’re in it for the money. It’s a business. The highly trained doctors and nurses at an emergency clinic deserve to be compensated for their skill level. Additionally, blood machines, imaging equipment and specialized medications come with expensive price tags. Quality care costs money. Realize that historically, animals have been dumped on vet’s doorsteps, or left in the hospital when an owner can’t pay the bill. Vets have incurred huge expenses treating sick or injured pets and then found themselves stuck with an unpaid bill. The profession has taken steps to guard against that by requiring deposits prior to admission and by providing estimates for the cost of treatment. While it may seem crass to discuss finances when a loved pet is in dire straits, it’s just part of living in today’s world.
I hope that you never find yourself in the situation I faced with Bosun, but if so, here are the contact numbers for our local emergency centers:
Celeste Conn, VMD
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