SHELTON – In an emergency situation sometimes our animals need a helping “paw,” and a service in Connecticut is here to help: it's called “Rescue 2 Animal Ambulance.”
The Connecticut Emergency Animal Response Team, called EARS, is an entirely volunteer-run nonprofit organization, running what it calls the first ever animal ambulance in the state.
“There wasn't a lot of help for pet owners,” EARS director of operations Jon Nowinski said. “As a pet owner myself I kind of saw that and realized there's a big need for that.”
The rapid response team began working out of a SUV, but through donations gathered over three weeks, the team was able to refurbish an ambulance once used for humans, now fully-equipped for animal emergencies.
Nowinski said it provides a “mobile critical care unit” that contains pet-sized stretchers, oxygen and fluid support, specialty medical equipment and a range of first aid support.
Having tools in transit is making the lifesaving difference for many pets. One dog, for example, needed oxygen to get to VCA Shoreline Veterinarian Jethro Forbes, which was crucial to its survival.
“That pet went home and is doing really well to this day,” Forbes said. “Definitely a case where without that service and that oxygen in transit between hospitals we may have had a different outcome than we did.”
Just like a regular ambulance, in an emergency, Nowinski said he has permission to use the lights but he has to be sure to abide by traffic laws.
Since May, EARS team members have been dispatched to over 30 calls. Nowinski said those include transporting dogs weighing over 200 pounds, to rescuing injured hawks and bringing them to wildlife rehabilitators.
The group is willing to respond to any animal emergency, also including house fires, car accidents and on-scene response for injured police K9s. And the service is free.
“We've come up to fire scenes where the people are on the front yard of their house while their house is on fire and they're more worried about getting their animals onto our ambulance,” he said.
The ambulance is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, to any pet owner in Connecticut.
“Along with that increase in ownership of animals and the human animal bond comes the need for caring for those animals and the emergency the same way as you would a person,” Nowinski said.
To reach the Rescue 2 Emergency Animal Line call 203-247-0310
If you want to help out the cause you can donate on the EARS website. You can also attend the first Rescue Rocks fundraiser on Saturday, August 13 from 3-7 p.m. at Orange Ale House in Orange.