Pet ambulance brings Chicago vet to canine patients

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Recent rounds of the dog flu have worried many pet owners and it's been keeping vets busy, including the doctor who runs the only pet ambulance in the Chicago area.

It's not a transport service, but a fully functional mobile clinic. The pet ambulance not only responds to medical emergencies, but also to pets who have a hard time leaving the house.

Dr. Alexis Newman sees some stubborn patients. Grizz is a 180-pound Newfoundland.

"He's one of my favorite patients. But Grizz does what Grizz decides to do," Newman said.

This makes what she does much more convenient for her human clients. Instead of going to the vet, she brings the clinic to them.

"We have our anesthesia machine here. We can do surgery, dental cleaning, major wounds or minor wounds in here," Newman said.

For years, Newman worked in traditional animal hospitals. In fact, she currently runs one with her husband, who is also a vet.

But she wanted to be more accessible. The pet ambulance idea came when she worked with police dogs.

"I thought I would go to them - work out of where they are training. A good friend came up with the idea of repurposed ambulance. I thought he was crazy. But we did it. I cannot imagine not having this," Newman said.

She now has K-9 patients from more than 40 law enforcement departments in the Chicagoland area.

From routine care to treating wounds, the one-of-a-kind pet ambulance enables her to do it all in the field.

"They're amazing, active, hardworking dogs. I've been at scenes where there have been cuts, significant bleeding," Newman said.

Newman said being able to see these working dogs during training is invaluable. Sometimes they are in pain from the work and no one knows.

"It's become a niche. I love it. Officers like to know that I know how they work - how they're different, not better, than pets. They're very different in what their goals are," Newman said.

She also does K-9 first aid classes for the officers in the field. She brings it all with her pet ambulance.

By the way, Newman calls her non-police dog patients "civilian patients."

If you'd like to learn more about the pet ambulance, check out the Partners and Paws website.

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