Contacting a vet urgently is something we need to be able to do in the blink of an eye. More times than enough, we need urgent assistance at what always appears to be completely the WRONG time – out of office hours, on a bank holiday, at Christmas, you name it. Emergencies just never seem to happen when the vet’s office is open and there’s a helpful voice at the other end of the ‘phone so, what do you need to be READY?
Well, the most important thing to have is your Emergency Vet Number stored in your ‘phone and preferably also written down inside your first aid kit, just in case somebody looking after your dog needs the information too. In a serious situation, the number you need to dial is that of the On Call response team, not just your ordinary veterinary reception number. If the only number you have is your usual clinic number, you may well find that when you ring out of office hours all you get is answerphone message telling you to ring elsewhere. When you’re panicking, and in the middle of nowhere, it’s not always that easy to take down a number and it will certainly mean at the very least that you’ve wasted valuable time when you could have just got on and rung straight through to the help you need.
When going on holiday, or if you show or compete in hobbies such as agility, flyball or coursing away from home, make sure you have the information for the local vet available just in case your dog becomes ill or has an accident while you are away. Local and on-call vet information can usually be located in the schedules for the shows you are entering. If not, then contact the show secretary who will be glad to help.
There are, however, occasions when you are away from home and walking somewhere unfamiliar that a problem may arise. In these situations, you cannot be expected to know where all the nearest vets are to your current location or even what their ‘phone numbers are. If you have a smart ‘phone, the best plan is simply to go to Google and put in “vets near me”. This will locate your current position via GPS and bring up a map showing the nearest veterinary professionals to you. From this, you will be able to select a vet and ‘phone number even though you don’t actually know the area personally.
If the emergency arises where you have no signal to speak of, say in a wood or very remote location, you may find the option of Googling is not available. It may also be difficult to call your vet personally yourself if the signal is weak but often in these circumstances you are still able to make Emergency SOS calls. You can call 999 for the UK (112 for Europe, 911 for America, or the emergency number for your country) and explain what has happened. This number is for Emergency Assistance and is not merely for Ambulance, Police and Fire as people often think. It is also for any genuine requests for help from Air/Sea Rescue, Mountain Rescue, Coastguard etc and in this regard, they can contact a vet on your behalf should you be unable to do it for yourself.
If you find an injured dog that is not your own and clearly needs veterinary assistance, you can call the emergency services to explain the situation and they can then organise a vet if required. All vets, though kind and thoughtful people, do have a business to run and have a livelihood to support. As such, if they are called out to an injured animal, then whoever called them out is liable for the fee of stabilisation treatment and call out. If you do not feel you would be willing to foot the bill in the absence of an owner being located, then simply passing all information on to the emergency services and allowing them to decide whether or not to send a vet might be your best option.
So, in a nutshell ……
- Have your EMERGENCY VET NUMBER in your ‘phone
- Find contact information for the vet near wherever you are travelling
- Use Google to find “vets near me” if you are in an unfamiliar location
- Use 999/112/911 should your ‘phone signal be weak and you need assistance