It’s A Pet Emergency – Where Do You Go?

Every pet parent dreads it: there is something wrong with your pet and you don’t know what to do. For some things you can catch your breath, call your regular veterinarian and make an appointment. But what about for things that can’t wait or that you already know need emergency care or very specialized care? Who do you call then? Once you get in your car, where do you go?

There is an organization called the Veterinary Committee on Trauma (or VetCot) that operates under the American College of Veterinary Emergency and Critical Care, and it has begun to compile a list of veterinary trauma centers. Yes, they are trying to establish a list of Level 1 and Level 2 trauma centers for pets just like we have for humans. To be on the list, a veterinary clinic needs to first apply and then be confirmed to have both specific equipment and procedures in place. All this sounds great and VetCot is getting a lot of coverage in the animal care press.  But unfortunately the web site that lists the 26 facilities in the country (that’s right, only 26) doesn’t provide details on the level of the care available at the listed facilities (beyond them being a “trauma” clinic). Moreover, and this may simply be my geographic bias, with all the amazing veterinary facilities in both the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California area in general, there is not a single facility on the list.

Frankly, I find this hard to fathom as I suspect that many of our veterinary facilities have both the equipment and procedures in place, and it makes me wonder that perhaps the clinics themselves question the value of being on such a list. As a consumer of veterinary care, I question the value of having a list of only 26 facilities in the entire country on a web site that is difficult to actually find and use. I’m not one to question the need for pet parents to know where to turn in case of emergency. Every pet parent should know about the emergency care facilities in their area and in the best of circumstances know how to select one emergency care facility over another for a specific emergency. I’m just not convinced that after 3 years a list of 26 facilitates is an adequate tool to enable pet parents to make this critical and time sensitive decision.  For VetCot to really merit all this attention pet parents need more from VetCot.

Thanks for reading.