Veterinary First Aid for First Responders

Dogs and cats are our companions. Imagine experiencing a devastating car accident or house fire. First priority is the safety and well-being of yourself and your human family but what about your four-legged companions

The Preveterinary Care Act (Colorado Senate Bill 14-039) introduced by Sen. David Balmer (R-Centennial) authorizes first responders to begin medical treatment in the field. This law allows for care and stabilization of working dogs (police canines, search and rescue dogs) and civilian dogs in preparation for transport to the nearest animal ER. The law stipulates that the provider must receive commensurate training to provide care.

Fort Collins Veterinary Emergency and Rehabilitation Hospital has teamed up with Poudre Valley Health Systems to train first responders and dog handlers in canine first aid. While paramedics, firefighters, police officers and search and rescue teams are well versed in the triage and technical rescue of human subjects, they have limited experience with canines. Together, we are developing protocols for safe restraint and treatment of animals. First responders learn to administer oxygen, give fluids, apply a bandage, and perform CPR and many other life-saving techniques.

Larimer County Search and Rescue (LCSAR) and Search and Rescue Dogs of Colorado (SARDOC) may come to your rescue someday. These animal heroes deserve life-saving emergency care. Fortunately, Colorado Senate Bill 14-039 allows emergency personnel to begin life-saving treatment in the field in order to stabilize them and get them to the nearest emergency vet hospital. Trauma, snakebite, and smoke inhalation are potential dangers for search and rescue dogs and police canines.