December 15, 2017
Health & Fitness
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  • After seeing it in action of over a year, Dr. Jessica Heard is thrilled by the services and usefulness of Severna Park Veterinary Hospital’s pet ambulance.
    After seeing it in action of over a year, Dr. Jessica Heard is thrilled by the services and usefulness of Severna Park Veterinary Hospital’s pet ambulance.
  • After seeing it in action of over a year, Dr. Jessica Heard is thrilled by the services and usefulness of Severna Park Veterinary Hospital’s pet ambulance.
    After seeing it in action of over a year, Dr. Jessica Heard is thrilled by the services and usefulness of Severna Park Veterinary Hospital’s pet ambulance.

Severna Park Veterinary Hospital’s Pet Ambulance Provides A Useful Service

Rob Odle
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March 7, 2017

Acquired in 2015, Severna Park Veterinary Hospital’s pet ambulance is a tool that has become essential for keeping local pets — especially larger ones — safe and healthy.

Before it was used by the staff at Severna Park Veterinary Hospital, the ambulance served as a vehicle for the Knoxville Fire Department in Tennessee. The details of its history with the department are unknown, but Dr. Jessica Heard, owner of the Severna Park Veterinary Hospital, said that it was used during fire inspections.

Heard, who also serves as a veterinarian at the hospital, said she wanted to look into adding an ambulance after realizing a need in the area.

“We were finding that we have a lot of people in this area that have big dogs. When they’re really in trouble, those people have a really hard time getting them up,” Heard explained. “When people are stuck with an 80- or 90- or 150-pound dog, there’s nothing they can do to move them.”

Heard decided that an ambulance would be the perfect solution to this problem and quickly set out to find one. Fortunately, Heard’s husband has a passion for cars and knew exactly where to look.

“The internet can provide access to all kinds of things, and when counties are done with things, they tend to put them up for sale on their website. Someone had acquired this ambulance with a couple other vehicles, but no one wanted a used ambulance,” Heard said. “For us, it was perfect.”

Once the vehicle was in Heard’s possession, it was reconditioned to fit pet specifications and repainted to reflect its affiliation to the veterinary hospital.

“We can change the size of the cages or the gurney, and we have a ramp that we use to help us get in and out,” Heard said of the vehicle’s benefits. “It allows a nurse to sit back there with them and keep the [pets] safe while we’re transporting. That helps keep them calm.”

The ambulance has been a huge asset to the hospital in its little over of a year of operation, as it has allowed Heard to achieve her original goal of easily transporting large pets, and it has even allowed her to increase the hospital’s presence in the community.

“I’ll take it to outdoor events where animals are participating,” Heard said, referring to a boxer rescue day and SPCA walk. “We have it on standby when there are outdoor events.” The ambulance allows for peace of mind at a pet-focused event, as it can quickly transport an animal to safety in treatment if something does happen to go wrong. “It’s allowed us to reach our clients in a way that we weren’t able to before,” Heard said.

The ambulance, in addition to its many aforementioned uses, allows veterinarians to conduct in-house euthanasia. “It allows us to [complete the procedure] then transport the animal back to our office once they’ve passed,” Heard said. This method is much more comfortable for families because they and their pet are surrounded by familiar sights and are allowed privacy throughout their trying time.

Heard is pleased with the acquisition and said that, one year later, she sees it as a much bigger asset than she could have ever imagined. “It has been great because it allows us to provide a noble service for animals. That’s been very helpful,” Heard said.

She doesn’t see a huge need right now, but Heard would be open to adding another ambulance to the fleet if the need revealed itself. For now, though, Heard hopes to continue providing a unique and useful service to local pets and the events that cater to those loving animals.


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