Four Rules for Finding an Emergency Vet

Where do you take your pet in an emergency when you are visiting Pueblo Colorado?

We absolutely know the answer, go to the Pueblo Area Pet Emergency Hospital at 3625 Baltimore Avenue.    Of course, had you asked us 3 weeks ago we wouldn’t have any idea.    If you ask us where to go in Colorado Springs, Trinidad, Boulder, Durango, Santa Fe ….. just about anywhere else on the planet, we would have no idea what to recommend.     Few of us know where we would take our pets in an emergency, especially when we are visiting someplace new.

Where’s the animal hospital?

That’s the question we asked our friends when Zola was hit by a car.     While I stood in the road trying to comfort my dog, our friends were scrambling to figure out where we should go.    A guy who witnessed the accident  offered to lead us to an animal hospital he knew was nearby.    So we lifted Zola on to her bed and then lifted it into the back of our friend’s SUV.   Zola cried and screamed, but then we were off following this good samaritan to the Animal Emergency Room on 4th Street.

Rule #1:   Take a minute to find out your options

Our impulse was to get somewhere as quickly as possible, but in retrospect had we taken the time to look on the internet we would have seen that there was more than one emergency animal hospital and the particular place where we were heading had a very poor reputation.  Indeed, our very first impressions weren’t good at all.

It took a long time to get anyone to help us bring Zola inside.    When the technician came out to the car, we lifted Zola by the bed on to a stretcher.    Zola was obviously in a lot of pain, and moving her like this was awful.    We carried her inside, past a handful of cats running loose in the reception area, then into an examination room.   The vet’s first move was to chastise the technician for carrying the stretcher upside down, she then told us to put the stretcher on the floor and to lift Zola on to the table.    I said “no way, this dog is in too much pain”, to which the vet replied “I have been doing this for 15 years”.    We weren’t impressed, and sat Zola directly on the table with the stretcher under her.    Next the vet used a stethoscope to listen to Zola’s chest.    She said everything  sounded OK.   She wanted to admit Zola, give her fluids and something for the pain, then observe her for 24 hours.    After that they would be able to tell us the exact nature of her injuries.      This didn’t sound great to me, 24 hours would be an eternity to wait.

Rule #2:   If it doesn’t feel right, get out of there

Luckily, while we were getting Zola to the hospital, our friends had continued their search for the best place to get Zola help.   With the vet out of the room, our friend told me that people they had contacted said we should go to a different place.    It’s hard for me to know how I was convinced so easily.    Zola was seriously injured, moving her was painful and for all I knew it was also risky.     I think that the vet had made such a bad initial impression and I was so unhappy with the thought of waiting 24 hours until we would know anything more, I allowed myself to do something that felt a bit counter-intuitive.    I agreed that we should take her back out to the car.      The vet wasn’t happy, said we were making a terrible mistake, and ultimately dammed the Pueblo gossip.

When we finally arrived at the Pueblo Area Pet Emergency Hospital, it took about two minutes for us to know what an important move we had just made.

Rule #3:  Know what good looks like

They took all of us back to the operating room directly, and immediately started treating Zola for shock.    Two nurses and a vet were actively participating, shaving her arms, starting an IV, giving her steroids to help with the shock.     A nurse explained that they couldn’t give her anything for the pain until they had determined the extent of her injuries.   This made sense.   Everything they were doing made sense, and it helped us tremendously that they took the time to explain it all to us.

It took them an hour or so to finish the evaluation.    It was then that we saw the x-ray of her shattered femur.   It made my heart sink just thinking about what it would take to recover from that.   Then the doctor told us that there was a bigger problem.    He showed us the x-rays that reveled her collapsed lungs.    He explained how air was trapped in her body and her lungs couldn’t inflate.    This was making it very difficult for her to breath.    They had aspirated her and were watching to see if her body would fill back up with air.    If it continued to do this, her lungs that would require a chest tube and possibly surgery.

As terrible as her condition was, we were extremely confident that she was in excellent hands.    The doctor assured us that if anything bad happened during the night, they would call us immediately.   By the next morning we learned that she was stable.    A couple of days rest would be enough for her lungs to recover.    It made our heads spin to think what would have happened if we had left Zola “for observation” with the first animal hospital.    It’s not hard for us to imagine the worst.

Rule #4:  Spread the word

It’s interesting, after the fact, to discover all of these terrible reviewsthat people had taken the time to write about the first animal hospital we visited.    I would like to think that armed with that information, we would have saved ourselves the trip.    However, I also noticed that people are much more likely to write a review when they are dissatisfied.   Places like the hospital that treated Zola so well often don’t stand out because no one has reviewed them.

For our individual case, we intend to change that.  Maybe one day someone in a terrible moment will take the time to search for the emergency animal hospitals available in Pueblo, see our review and end up in the skilled and caring hands of the Pueblo Area Pet Emergency Hospital.  Zola could not have had better care than what Dr. Scott Reed and his staff provided.  We are forever in their debt, and we’ll always be grateful for our friends who did everything they could to get us there .

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