Thanks to Jeanne for sending me this article from the Idaho Statesman.
From the article:
Many area veterinary practices do not offer 24-hour care and are unable to keep an animal overnight if it is critically ill or injured, having breathing problems, seizures, or requires constant medication.
This situation is not unique to Idaho. Because most veterinary practices are small facilities, having staff on-duty 24 hours each day is not practical. If a critically ill animal is present in the hospital at closing time, it must be transferred to a larger facility, or one that specializes in overnight care.
But if the pet is very ill, and requires continuous monitoring and treatment, the mere act of transferring it to another facility can be life-threatening.
Although Idahos pet hospitals are not unique for closing overnight, one of them has come up with a relatively unique solution to the problem of transferring critically ill patients. It has developed a pet ambulance. From the article:
The ambulance was modified with life-saving equipment including gurneys and a crash cart for immediate cardiac treatment, and is stocked with medications and intravenous fluids that may be needed during transport.
As a veterinarian, I would be thrilled to have access to such a service! So would every other vet that I know. Why is it not more common? The answer lies in the article.
More than a dozen pets have been transported since the service began in October.
The article was printed in January. That means that the service is being used less than three times per month. The service either must cost a great deal, or the hospital that is running it may be losing a a large sum of money on the venture.
It is sad that financial realities occasionally interfere with veterinarians abilities to provide top-quality care. But pet ambulances are rare for the same reason that overnight hospitals are rare. The costs of such services are prohibitively expensive for many clients.