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First Pet Ambulance Takes to Washington Streets

When Scoobydoo stopped breathing recently at his veterinary clinic, doctors knew he needed specialized care. So he was taken by ambulance to a new clinic, Seattle Veterinary Specialists, in Kirkland.

By ambulance!

It s the state s first ambulance dedicated to pets, says Melissa Smith, office manager of the Kirkland clinic. The Washington State Veterinary Medical Association agrees.

The clinic opened Oct. 15, and Scoobydoo was its first patient to be brought in by ambulance. The cocker spaniel was having trouble breathing and was taken to his regular vet, who put him on oxygen and decided he needed to be seen by a specialist.

They saved my dog s life, said Scoobydoo s owner, Laura LeBlanc, of Covington. If they didn t have an ambulance, my dog would be dead by now. You can t put a price on that.

She said the ambulance ride cost about $500, a small part of the $3,400 the entire treatment cost her.

She said she thinks Scoobydoo, who has made a full recovery, got botulism from bad chicken.

The ambulance, purchased from Pierce County, was used to serve people in Gig Harbor for 10 years, Smith said.

Smith said her clinic gets maybe two to three calls a week from pet owners whose animals need urgent care, or from owners with sick or injured pets that they can t lift.

It s something we heard so often. We can t get our pets there. We need an ambulance, Smith said.

In Scoobydoo s case, the ambulance was driven by a veterinarian with an assistant in back with the dog. Scoobydoo, now 13, stopped breathing in the ambulance and had to have a tube put in his throat.

LeBlanc adopted her dog from PAWS in 1996.

She doesn t flinch at Scoobydoo s vet bill.

My friends think I m crazy, she said. But you d never know he was almost dead three weeks ago. He s like my kid.

Smith said she knows of no other pet ambulances in the state but believes there are some in the eastern United States.

There s just one catch: The pet ambulance can t use lights or sirens.

Susan Gilmore: 206-464-2054 or sgilmore@seattletimes.com

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