Critical Care Transport is offered for patients hospitalized at clinics that are needing transport to Western Veterinary Specialty and Emergency referral for ongoing management by the Critical Care service. A critical patient is defined as a patient that needs ongoing care by a doctor and veterinary technician during transportation in order to not unduly risk the patients health or safety during transport. This includes patients needing oxygen therapy, vasopressor therapy, blood transfusions, cardiopulmonary resuscitation, manual ventilation, etc. This service is offered by the Critical Care service of Western on a case by case basis. This is a service that Western provides, but it’s availability is not guaranteed. Western endeavors to be available most days before 10pm, but cannot always guarantee availability after 10pm. Please also understand that the team that performs this service is responsible for regular daytime hours as well.

Veterinarians that are interested in utilizing the services of the transport services should contact Western. During daytime hours (approximately 8am to 5pm) they will be put in contact with a veterinarian on the critical care team to discuss the case. The critical care team member will discuss if the case meets the criteria for transportation, costs involved, and availability. They will ask the referring veterinarian to have the owner phone Western to leave their contact information, pet’s information, and a deposit as per the conversation with the criticalist. Under no circumstances will the criticalist speak with the pet owner until after the pet is in the possession of Western and has been evaluated. This is to minimize any miscommunications that may arise, as the Western team has not evaluated the pet at that time, has not had access to the pet’s diagnostics, and is not a part of the pet’s medical team. Once the deposit has been left, the critical care team will leave Western for the referring clinic.

After daytime hours (approximately 5pm to 8am), the referring veterinarian will be put in contact with the emergency veterinarian who will take down details of the case. If the case clearly does not qualify for transportation, the emergency veterinarian will advise the referring veterinarian as such and recommend that the owner transport the pet to the hospital, and may offer advice in regards to analgesia or other ways of providing comfort to the patient during transport. If the patient appears to qualify for transport the emergency veterinarian will then contact the critical care team and discuss the case. The emergency veterinarian will call the referring veterinarian back with a decision, as to transportation, and if transportation is offered, a financial estimate to be passed on to the owner, a time estimate, and any other pertinent information from the critical care team. Arrival times after hours are commonly 1-2 hours as the team is arriving from home. As above, the deposit needs to be left before the team will depart for the clinic. As above, our emergency veterinarian will not speak with the owner regarding the case.

Checklist for referring veterinarian seeking transportation:

  • Perform reasonable attempts to stabilize patient prior to inquiring about transportation (including but not limited to performing thoracocentesis for pneumothorax/pleural effusion, attempting to stabilize patient in hypovolemic shock, etc)
  • Discuss possibility of transportation with owner to see if interested
  • Speak with Western
  • Relay patient weight to Western (this is so that we can prepare drug calculations and emergency drug sheets for transportation.
  • Relay estimate to owner, have owners call Western to leave deposit and to give their contact information so a file can be started.
  • Ask owners for a code status to relay to Western.
  • Discuss transportation risks/protocol with owner
    • Under no circumstances will the criticalist (or Western’s emergency doctor) speak with the owner until after the pet is in the possession of Western and has been evaluated.
  • The Critical Care team will speak with the owners once they arrive back at Western and have evaluated and begun stabilization efforts on the patient. Please advise the owners this could take 1-2 hours, but that we are working hard to ensure the stability of the patient.
  • Photocopy all available records (labs, treatment sheets) to send with patient. If the SOAP is not completed at that time we completely understand, but do ask for all labs and treatment sheets, as they are extremely helpful.
  • Email radiographs to [email protected]
  • If possible we ask that the owners are not waiting in the treatment area when the team arrives so that we may make our initial assessment of the patient. Assure the owners that we will contact them once we have fully assessed the patient at Western.

What qualifies for transportation?

  • Oxygen dependent
  • Intubated
  • Vasopressor dependent
  • Cardiovascularly unstable patients that are unlikely to survive to Western without continued, ongoing critical care

What does not qualify for transportation?

  • Large, non-ambulatory patients who are cardiovascularly stable
  • Painful patients
  • Seizure patients
  • Owners that are not available for transportation
  • Cardiovascularly stable patients expected to remain so during travel to Western


To fill out the Emergency Transport Form - Click Here

See our departments

Emergency & Critical Care

Our Critical Care Service excels in managing patients recovering from major surgery, illness, or trauma and those patients requiring positive pressure ventilation or other specialized care. Our critical care team includes three board-certified critical care specialists, Dr. Valerie Madden, Dr. Clare Hyatt and Dr. Laura Osborne, and resident Dr. James Lange. Your pet will get the best care possible. 

Our Emergency Service is staffed by a team of highly skilled veterinarians and technicians who are equipped and prepared to handle any pet emergency with skill, speed, and compassion. We have the ability to offer all levels of care in an emergency and are outfitted to care for even the most critical patients. One or more veterinarians and technicians are on-site at all times.

Our team will work closely with your family veterinarian to make sure your pet gets the best care possible before, during, and after hospitalization. Open communication with your family veterinarian during regular business hours, and the transfer of medical records and test results by fax or email, allows us to keep your veterinarian informed of your pet's progress.

Our dedicated intensive care unit (ICU) is equipped to provide oxygen therapy, cardiac monitoring, blood transfusions, mechanical ventilation and nutritional support. Our in-house laboratory, radiology and ultrasound capabilities enable us to get crucial diagnostic information very quickly. Our blood bank allows our canine and feline patients to have access to a safe blood supply.

Triage/Waiting Times:

No appointment is ever necessary to see the emergency service. We are here when your pet is ill.

Our hospital works on the same triage principle as human hospitals where the more seriously ill or injured patients will be seen before stable and healthy patients. If necessary, seriously ill or injured patients may be moved straight to our treatment room for immediate assessment by an emergency veterinarian. This allows us to provide your pet with life-saving medications and treatments in a timely and efficient manner.

Financial Policy:

We promise to stay transparent with our costs. All patients will be charged an emergency consultation fee. This fee covers the initial evaluation and assessment by a veterinarian to help make the best recommendations for you and your pet. We will provide detailed financial estimates for all treatment options so that you can decide on the best course of action for your family and pet.

Our fees ensure that we can provide the highest quality veterinary care with a modern, fully equipped medical facility, and provide a board-certified and specialty-trained team to care for your pet.

Our Emergency & Critical Care Services

Critical Care Transport Service

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