When a life-threatening medical emergency strikes you or your family, an ambulance can be there to help within minutes. But what about when the victim is your dog or cat? You may be able to transport the animal yourself or rely on other family or friends, but what if you can't. Or what if you need to start live-saving measures  on the way to your veterinarian or nearest clinic? A new trend in veterinary services may provide your answer. A pet ambulance.

More and more pet ambulance services are springing up across the United States. It seems to be a service that is in need--just ask Cheryl Brady, a Florida woman who owns the Vet Care Express Animal Ambulance. She started the emergency service two years ago after arriving too late to save a dog that had been hit by a car. She bought a van and some up-to-date animal care equipment and started her new business. Within 6 months her business and the number of calls coming in had tripled. She now is on call to provide emergency transportation 24 hours a day for a two-county area and hopes to expand. In fact, her company is in the running to win a $250,000 grant in the Mission: Small Business contest sponsored by Chase and Living Social. She would use the money to buy another ambulance so she could expand her coverage area.

Other animal ambulance service providers are seeing a similar need in their service areas. Some providers are directly associated with a veterinary clinic.  Adding an animal ambulance service often makes sense and can make the clinic more marketable. Not only are they able to provide critical emergency services in a more timely manner, they can transport patients between clinics or to more specialized or better equipped veterinary hospitals without disrupting the animals care (e.g., IVs or oxygen). Although animal ambulances usually are not permitted to run with flashing lights and sirens, they usually have basic medical equipment that can help sustain the pet until it gets to a veterinary hospital.

Many pet ambulance companies also provide non-emergency transportation to veterinary clinics, boarding facilities or grooming appointments. People no longer have to rearrange their work schedules to accommodate transporting their animals. They can also transport already diseased animals for distraught owners.  

Does your city or county have an animal ambulance service? Does your veterinarian work with an ambulance service provider. If not, does this sound like a service you would like to provide for your community? A quick Google search will provide the names of several animal ambulance companies around the country that would most likely provide you with advice about how to get started.