NASHUA, N.H. -- The first animal ambulance in southern New Hampshire, and possibly the state, will make its debut this week at the Animal Hospital of Nashua.
The souped-up Ford Transit will fill a critical demand for emergency pet transportation to the animal hospital, according to medical staff at the facility.
"Sometimes just five minutes can mean the difference between life and death for a sick or injured animal," said Dr. Shalsee Vigeant, medical director for emergency and intensive care. "We have been very excited about this ambulance, and I think it is going to be wonderful."
An oxygen system has been installed in the ambulance, which also has the ability to provide IV fluids and airway control to pets, according to Vigeant.
It will be available 24 hours a day courtesy of the Animal Medical Center of New England, an extension of the Animal Hospital of Nashua on Main Dunstable Road.
While some other states, such as California, have embraced animal ambulances, New Hampshire is relatively new to the concept, said Vigeant. The ambulance, which is essentially an SUV without the rear seat, can accommodate multiple pet carriers at a time, providing oxygen and fluid hookups to several dogs or cats simultaneously.
Pet owners will likely not be permitted to travel with their animals, as a veterinarian and technician will probably assist during the transport, according to Vigeant.
Vigeant said if a dog or cat is hit by a car, the ambulance would serve as a mobile emergency unit that could offer life-saving services. If a pet is anemic or vomiting, the animal can immediately receive IV fluid, rather than waiting until it arrives at the animal hospital, explained Vigeant. Those extra minutes can be critical, she said.
The staff at the Animal Hospital of Nashua would not disclose the price tag of the animal ambulance, nor would they share the exact cost of services for its use. However, similar Ford Transit vehicles range in price from $20,000 to $40,000, with similar pet transports starting at a minimum of $100 per trip and increasing in price according to the services provided.
The ambulance is expected to arrive on Friday, and will be on display Saturday at the Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua.
In addition to emergency calls, the ambulance will also make house calls to provide euthanasia services.
"With this new mobile unit, we will be able to do that and make it easier during that traumatic time," Vigeant said.