Veterinary school serves community with emergency care service

June 15, 2010

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The Purdue University School of Veterinary Medicine will open emergency services on July 1 for dogs and cats from Tippecanoe County and the surrounding area.

The Purdue Animal Emergency Service will replace Lafayette's Animal Emergency Clinic, which is closing on June 30.

"This endeavor is positive for everyone involved," said Paula Johnson, clinical assistant professor of emergency and critical care. "If the private emergency clinic closed and the school did not embark on this initiative, the community would not have an easily accessible facility to provide quality emergency service for pets and pet owners. As of July 1, the Purdue Animal Emergency Service will provide that kind of care without area veterinarians having to shoulder that responsibility on top of their usual long workdays.

"Additionally, the emergency service will enable the school to expand its curriculum and improve the learning experience for Purdue veterinary students and veterinary technician students."

The private clinic saw 2,800 animals last year, and Purdue expects to see that many cats and dogs in the new location.

"The caseload seen previously by the private clinic is more than adequate to sustain the new service, which has the goal of providing high-quality emergency and critical care in a setting that also supports an outstanding education for our veterinary students," said Mimi Arighi, director of the Veterinary Teaching Hospital. "Our students need to be prepared to treat animals that are hit by cars or have eaten dangerous items such as chocolate or poisonous plants."

Students will have the opportunity to assist faculty in assessing and treating a variety of issues including injuries, difficulty breathing, chronic vomiting or consuming something toxic. 

As of July 1, pet owners are encouraged to call 765-496-7911 with emergency care questions before bringing an animal to Purdue. The Animal Emergency Service will be located in the Small Animal Veterinary Teaching Hospital at 625 Harrison St., and it will be open from 6 p.m. to 8 a.m. weekdays and 24 hours on weekends and holidays. Purdue is working with local veterinary hospitals to share this information with their clients.

Each case will be charged a fee for an evaluation, then services will vary based on the pet's needs, which could include medications, diagnostic imaging, a stay in the intensive care unit or surgery. The fee structure for Purdue's emergency care service will be comparable to the old center and will be adjusted, when necessary, to reflect the School of Veterinary Medicine's specialty care if needed, Arighi said.

The emergency service, even though it is housed in the Veterinary Teaching Hospital's Small Animal Hospital, will be financially self-supporting.

The hospital, which opened in 1959, serves as a primary referral center for veterinarians in Indiana and is home to 13 exam rooms, specialized diagnostic equipment and seven surgical suites. It offers general wellness care, as well as specialty care in a variety of areas such as dermatology, neurology, oncology and cardiology.

Writer:   Amy Patterson Neubert, 765-494-9723, apatterson@purdue.edu

Sources:    Paula Johnson, 765-494-8562, johns357@purdue.edu

                    Mimi Arighi, 765-494-7235, arighi@purdue.edu