A number of years ago, my partner and I were returning from an emergency call when we saw some cars stopped at the side of the road. There appeared to be someone who had obviously been struck by a vehicle. We immediately activated the emergency lights on the ambulance and pulled over. Grabbing our equipment we rushed over and quickly discovered it wasn’t a person. At the side of the road was a beautiful Golden Retriever surrounded by a group of concerned citizens. He had gotten away from his owner and run across the road, only to be struck by a vehicle. The crowd and owner looked desperately for us to help this poor injured dog.

My partner John and I are both dog lovers, We looked at each other and instantly knew what the other was thinking … “We’re paramedics but we’re trained on helping people, we don’t know anything about treating animals!!” We knew we had to try our best. We assessed his vital signs as best we could. We had no idea how to check a pulse on a dog so instead I listened to his heart with my stethoscope but I had no idea if what I was hearing was normal? We realized he had a broken leg and did not appear to be in good condition.

John and I looked at each other, I said … “There is the vet clinic a couple kilometers away, and it was on the way back to the station”.

John nodded, “Lets do it!”

We got the equipment out of the ambulance and carefully placed our patient onto the cot and loaded it into the ambulance. Once inside we administered oxygen and headed to the clinic … all the way wondering what we would do if we suddenly got a call.

Arriving at the clinic we backed up to the doors. The staff were shocked to see a couple paramedics wheel our furry patient through the front doors. Once they realized what was happening, they immediately jumped to action. It was a relief to turn our patient over to people who knew what to do.

A few days later our station Unit Chief got word of our actions when the dogs owner called to thank us for our help. We knew we were in trouble when the chief came up to us at the beginning of a shift and asked us to explain about our “unofficial emergency call involving a non-human patient”. We could have gotten into a lot of hot water but he just left it with … “Well done, but don’t do it again!”

Ever since that day I’ve been acutely aware of my lack of knowledge when it comes to four legged patients. That’s why I’m thrilled that we are now able to offer the DOGSAFE K9 First Aid Program.

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