In the Midst of a Medical Emergency: Should You Stay or Should You Go?
By Dr. Lisa Aumiller
Unexpected veterinary care for the pets staying in your facility can really throw a wrench in daily operations. Furthermore, running a pet care facility minus one employee can negatively affect the whole team. It is important to have an action plan in place when a pet is sick or injured so that your staff can act quickly and make decisions that help keep your facility running smooth. Below are some useful tips.
Make sure you have a few veterinary partners in the event that one is unable to see a pet experiencing a medical emergency or unable to come to the phone to answer a question. You should ask your vet on record if you can have their cell to text them for advice and/or send them pictures. And it is vital to have a vet on speed dial to help you and your staff make quick decisions.
You should also make an association with a mobile veterinarian. Having a mobile vet working with you can save time and money! Since many vets won’t take same–day emergencies, except the 24–hour clinics, having a visiting vet will keep your staff on site, you can avoid ER costs and clients will find it reassuring when they see that a vet will actually come to your facility when needed.
24-hour Emergency Clinic
Negotiate with your local 24–hour veterinary clinic. Since you are a community partner and a local business, speak with the manager to see if it is possible to offer your staff a discount when you bring pets in and/or if they can offer you priority service so that you are not waiting hours for someone to look at the pet (and keeping you from returning to work.)
Pet Transport Service
Finally, have a pet transport service available to transport a pet for you. Transport services will act as an agent on your behalf and take the pet to a hospital for you so your trained staff can stay at the facility working with your clients.
Your contract should have a statement indicating that pets will be given medical care if needed, even if the owner cannot be reached. Have clients indicate on their contract if they would approve veterinary care options that you provide on–site. Have them initial that veterinary care will be an additional fee if they want their pet transported to their regular veterinarian, and there will be another additional fee for your staff’s time. Most kennels that I work with will have the owner sign a medical consent form and have the client’s credit card on file in the event there is a medical emergency so that the kennel does not end up paying for the veterinary care.
Have an action plan in place and train your staff on implementing the plan. In the event of a pet emergency, does your team know the steps you want followed? An action plan can be very simple, and if you have a written plan that is easy to follow, it can help avoid the staff having to call the kennel owner/manager every time an incident occurs.
Proper preparation for an emergency, implementation of your action plan, and having the correct contacts and partnerships can help save time and ease the experience of a medical emergency. It will also leave owners feeling reassured that their pet is safe in your hands.