It was pitch black at 1am when Claudia Blackley and Jarrod Male got the call out.
They jumped in the ambulance and travelled the 45 minutes from Canberra to Yass to assess the sick patient, who was having trouble breathing due to a large lump that had formed on her throat.
Unlike any other ambulance, this one took the patient straight to the Animal Emergency Hospital in Fyshwick.
The patient was a dog, and much to the relief of the owner, the beloved pet was released from the veterinary clinic alive and well a week later.
The Pet Ambulance, run by vet nurses Ms Blackley and Mr Male, began eight years ago in the capital. The service was purely to transport pets from vet clinics across Canberra to the Animal Emergency Hospital for overnight attention.
Now, the offering has expanded. The recent addition of a real former ambulance has had tongues wagging across town.
"It's an ex-human ambulance which was appropriate for our need," Mr Male said.
"The way the vehicle is set up with the oxygen delivery equipment and the storage is really good. Because it's a big vehicle it allows us to do multiple transports so we can have a couple of quite large cages in it."
Ms Blackley said she wanted the service to be utilised better, and the addition of the ambulance helped to draw attention to what they had on offer.
"It's for anyone from the elderly who can't necessarily get their pet to the vet, or they don't drive anymore, to families who have to get the kids off to school, or other things to organise," Ms Blackley said.
"Or if something happens in the middle of the night, if a dog gets in a fight or isn't breathing, we can take it to the emergency centre," she said.
Mr Male said the intensive care transport could be of enormous help when a pet is in need.
"The dog we picked up in Yass was intubated, we had to hook it up via an oxygen tank and although it was breathing by itself the tube couldn't be removed because the dog's airway was restricted. We had to keep it anaesthetised the whole trip," he said.
While not everyone could afford the service, Mr Male said he had been lobbying pet insurance companies to include the pet ambulance as part of their policies, however as yet he had had no luck.
"Hopefully it will change," Mr Male said.
"We'd love to be able to treat every animal, but we're not a publicly funded unit."
Read more: http://www.canberratimes.com.au/act-news/pet-ambulance-offers-intensive-care-to-sick-animals-in-canberra-20150704-gi566v#ixzz3kb9KQxpj