Seeking 24/7emergency care for furry friends
When it comes to treating medical emergencies for pets, Truckee-Tahoe area pet owners have limited choices.
While local veterinarians can provide emergency care during working hours, after-hour emergencies have to go to animal hospitals in Reno or Carson City. While local pet owners have expressed concern over the lack of emergency care in critical situations, veterinarians argue that pets will be better served in hospitals that can support 24-hour emergency services.
When Boudro, a chocolate lab, recently ingested a bottle of Tylenol, he was taken to the North Lake Veterinary Clinic where his stomach was pumped and he was given charcoal, said owner Rachel Costello.
But when it became apparent that Boudro would need overnight care, he was taken to the Carson Tahoe Veterinary Hospital, where he spent the next three days.
“There are so many reasons emergency services should be up here ” what if you can’t make it to Reno or Carson City,” Costello said. “At least there could be some kind of on-call doctor.”
Brooks Bloomfield, doctor of veterinary medicine at the Animal Outpatient Care Center in Truckee, said using the Animal Emergency Center is more effective than an on-call system.
“No matter how you cut it, you have to go in, turn everything on, get a nurse,” Bloomfield said. “The emergency center in Reno is just better for your pet ” all they do is emergency care.”
He said despite all being excellent doctors, local veterinarians decide to refer to other emergency services such as Reno, not because they don’t care, but because each believes it is the best option.
“All the vets up here are really competitive. We can’t take the risk of angering clients and losing business if we didn’t think it was a better service.” Bloomfield said.
People should have the same mindset about animal emergency medicine as human emergency medicine, Bloomfield said.
“When you are hurt you don’t call your doctor. You go to the emergency room,” Bloomfield said. “People should think the same way with their pets.”
Cindy Hartzell, veterinary technician and owner of Critter Care, a mobile veterinary clinic based in Truckee, said while locals think the Truckee-Tahoe area is unique in not having emergency services, even Bay Area residents may have to drive an hour for help.
“All the vets in the area pulled together and tried to figure out how to solve this,” Hartzell said. “But there are not enough emergency calls to sustain an emergency clinic up here.”
Bree Montana, doctor of veterinary medicine at Agate Bay Animal Hospital in Kings Beach, said the hospital has begun expanding emergency services.
Monday through Friday, emergency services are open until 10 p.m., with weekend emergency hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The hospital also has an on-call room that can give 24-hour supervision of emergency cases, Montana said.
“Full time emergency care is a long-term goal of mine, but we don’t have enough of a client base to afford it,” Montana said. “It’s just not realistic now.”
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