Traveling vet ambulance helps pets across HCMC

By Quynh Tran, Ngoc Ngan   November 10, 2023 | 03:00 am PT
Traveling vet ambulance helps pets across HCMC
A dog being treated in the ambulance before being taken to the hospital, Oct. 31, 2023. Photo by VnExpress/ Quynh Tran
A Ho Chi Minh City veterinary hospital uses an ambulance as a mobile clinic—equipped with a lab, oxygen tanks, and medicine to care for pets anywhere in the city.

On the afternoon of Oct. 31, Pham Thi Tam, a 75-year-old woman living on Cuu Long Street, Tan Binh District, received a notification that it was time for her Poodle’s check-up after he was neutered two weeks ago.

With none of her relatives free to bring the Poodle to the hospital, Tam called the mobile clinic to come to her house. Forty minutes later, the veterinarian arrived at her door.

"I’m old so I can’t drive by myself. It’s also a hassle to take a taxi because I have to carry my dog, and there’s no medical assistance if something goes wrong on the way," she said.

The Poodle’s temperature and blood pressure were taken before he was brought into the vehicle.

"The dog’s health is still stable, but the owner wanted to have his teeth cleaned, medicine administered, and bandages removed, so we had to take him to the hospital," the mobile veterinarian explained.

Last week, Phung Thi Le’s pregnant dog showed signs of going into labor. The 50-year-old woman called dozens of taxi services to pick her and her pet up in Tan Phu District and drive them to the hospital, but they all refused because they were afraid that the smell of her dog would linger in their car.

Meanwhile, using a motorcycle was also not a viable option as Le was afraid that if she carried her dog in her arms, her dog would miscarry on the way.

When her son went online to look for a solution, he discovered the mobile vet service. After 30 minutes of placing their call, the ambulance was there to bring her dog to the hospital.

"My dog was pregnant with four puppies. She was brought to the hospital on time so they were able to save her and two of her puppies. We paid about VND5 million (US$203) for everything," Le said.

A dog being carried to the pet ambulance on a stretcher. Photo by VnExpress/ Quynh Tran

A dog being carried to the pet ambulance on a stretcher. Photo by VnExpress/ Quynh Tran

The mobile vet clinic charged her VND15,000 for each kilometer, which Le judged to be comparable to any other taxi or ride service.

The service Le used was put into operation by a veterinary hospital in Tan Phu District two months ago. Veterinarian Thai Thi My Hanh, the one who came up with the idea, stated that such emergency vet services are quite popular in other countries, but it’s still a fairly new idea in Vietnam.

After many years of running a veterinary hospital, Hanh realized that there were many cases far from the hospital, or owners who were too old to bring their pets to the hospital by themselves. As a solution, she decided to go mobile.

The service comes at a time Vietnamese people are becoming more attentive to their pets and treating them for as family members.

Currently, Hanh’s hospital owns one nine-seat van they converted into the ambulance and mobile clinic. The service operates day and night, with an operator and veterinarian always on duty, ready to travel anywhere within HCMC.

The number of doctors deployed in the vehicle depends on the severity of the pet’s condition. After arriving at a location, the vets decide whether to treat the pet at home or take it to the hospital. If it is to be moved, the pet will be given an IV drip and medicine while in the ambulance.

The mobile service receives the gamut of cases, but most are cats or dogs that got into accidents, are going into labor, or need tests and/or annual health check-ups. Some owners even call the service to have their pets groomed.

The mobile clinic receives over a dozen cases a day, double the number of cases when it started.

"We’re planning on increasing the number of cars and expanding our service to nearby provinces," Hanh said.

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