‘First responder’ help is not just for people: Animals have emergencies, too

Published 1:00 pm Friday, May 31, 2024

Animals have emergencies, just like people do. And veterinarians like Dr. William Kimble are ready to re-spond, whether that is during everyday business hours, or on weekends, holidays, and through-out the night. 

Kimble is part of the doctor team at Animal Medical Center on Brookway Boulevard.

When people think about emergencies, “Everyone thinks of human emergencies,” Kimble said. But emergency animal clinics do exist. They are fully staffed with full-time veterinarians, but are only found in larger metropolitan areas, such as Flowood, Hattiesburg, or the Gulf Coast. 

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Most of the state has smaller, privately-owned veterinary clinics. The medical professionals at these clinics provide their own emergency services.

“We have an on-call emergency service,” said Kimble. “Our answering service relays the call to the doctor who’s on call, to see that emergency. Most would be brought here to the clinic, but some are ambulatory — where we go to the animal.”

More than 95 percent of emergencies are handled at the clinic, no matter what time of day or night they occur. At night, most of the emergency calls are for family pets.

“Most are for small animals, pets, because you have to be with the animal during the night to know it’s having an emergency,” Kimble said. “What is an emergency? If you had the same symptoms as this animal, would you go the emergency room, or wait to see your doctor?”

Most animal emergencies AMC deals with are trauma cases — hit by an automobile. There are also bites from other dogs, snake bites (which tend to happen later in the evenings), and prob-lems with pregnant pets, especially during labor. Deliveries and C-sections may have to be per-formed. 

“Pets tend to have their babies at night,” he said. “We also see acute illnesses like vomiting, etc., which may be new symptoms or from a chronic problem.”

Horses and cattle can also be treated at AMC. 

“We have a large-animal facility here at the clinic, and we take advantage of that here,” he said. “It has all the equipment, and water; it’s under cover. We can do a much better job due to the facilities.”

Some large-animal cases are when a vehicle strikes a cow or horse on the roadway. But some-times there will be an 18-wheeler or trailer loaded with horses or cattle — a whole transport of animals — that is involved in a wreck. Kimble’s partner Dr. Gregory Howell responded to one such emergency within the past year, when a cattle truck overturned.

“He had to assess each animal on-site,” Kimble said. “We’ve also had sick race horses come in that were in transport through the area.”

“Those require an immediate response — first aid, transport, or sometimes euthanasia right on site,” he said. Not all of the injuries come from the wrecks themselves. “Animals can harm one another in the aftermath; it can be a lot to handle.”

Kimble said they will provide emergency services whenever they are needed, but their own cli-ents will always get priority. He advises anyone looking for a veterinarian to ask, “‘Do you supply after-hours services if I need them?’ We are available 365 days a year, 24 hours a day on a rotational basis for emergency services.”

Kimble recalled a particular instance in which a dog was found that had been hit by a car. 

“We were able to treat it, find the owner and reunite them. You feel good. Luckily in most of these cases, the animal’s fine and we’re able to resolve issues, get them back with their humans,” he said. “We have a very good relationship with the police department and sheriff’s office, and a lot of auto vs. animal cases are called in to us by them.”

Kimble was born in Franklin County, but has lived in Brookhaven most of his life. 

A veterinarian for 37 years, Kimble grew up on a farm. They had cattle and he had an interest in science, so the two just blended together, and he became a general practitioner in veterinary medicine.

“I still enjoy this. Every day is different. I can look at my schedule and know what’s supposed to come, but every day is a different day and there are always the surprises you didn’t know were coming that day. We have a lot of walk-ins and emergencies during the day, and none of the emergencies are planned.”