I heard that a cat had been hit by a car and the neighbors were waiting for the ambulance to arrive. Did they mean a regular ambulance? Or an ambulance that picked up animals? Yes, they did mean that. In this country, there are ambulances for animals. They look like regular ambulances and are equipped for emergencies. This was news to me.

As an example, when an animal is hurt in traffic, the ambulance service will give first aid, transport the animal to a medical shelter and they will also take care of animals who have been killed. Because of all the sloten, there are many ducks, geese and swans who are hit by cars. Naturally, there are accidents with dogs and cats too. No matter what the animal, and that means horses and cows too, the ambulance will come to the rescue.

If you have a large dog that needs to be transported to the vet, and you cannot manage, then the ambulance will take the dog to the vet for you. If your pet has had surgery, and you cannot get them home (remember, many people have bikes and not cars) then you arrange for this service.

There are 92 of these ambulances in the country. Since 1988, the Dierenambulance has been assisting animals and it does not cost the tax payers a cent. It is entirely funded by private donations. There is no charge for the services. If an animal has died, they will take care of cremation for free, if requested.

In the United States, there are animal officers that are funded by towns and cities. Here, there are no such officers, it seems that this service does that job and more. There has been a push to get your pet to have a chip, so that they can locate the owner, by just checking the registry. When the ambulance comes and finds an injured or dead animal, the first thing they check is if the animal has a chip. Most times they are able to reunite the pet and family.

Sadly, the cat died that had been hit. The ambulance came, and they discovered the cat did have a chip and they were able to contact the family right away.

A few weeks ago, I was on the motorway and a swan had just been hit. It was so shocking to see it lying in the road. Two cars had pulled over to the side and feathers were flying all over. It was the first time that I had seen a dead animal on the road since I moved here…which is amazing, considering how many animals are out and about. It is never easy to see a hurt or dead animal… but to see this swan, so beautifully white, just lying there, among the fast cars, it was really tough. You wonder what made it come out on the motorway, how confused was it?

Hug your pet a little longer today. Give them an extra treat. Say something kind to them and they will respond with a wagging tail or a rub against your leg. Whenever I see a dog or cat I greet them. It finally dawned on me that they don’t know English, they are so used to hearing Dutch, and here is this crazy American rambling on. But I don’t care, I still talk to them. I am hoping that there is a google translate for animals, and they understand everything I am saying whether I am French, Dutch, Spanish or English. Let’s face it, they are just so happy to be spoken to and be given some love and attention. Go ahead, give them some love.

Recommended reading: there is a terrific series by Alexander McCall Smith about the residents in a small London apartment building. The first in the series is Corduroy Mansions. One of the main characters is a dog named Freddy. If you are looking for an escape from the usual dramatic novels I write about, this series is just the ticket.

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  • Alison  On June 11, 2012 at 11:28 am

    It’s comforting to have such a service available, even though we fortunately haven’t had to use it. It makes sense, too, since so many people do have pets, but don’t have cars.

  • Kelly  On June 19, 2012 at 12:21 am

    I was so glad to read about this, as it’s been on my mind to ask you how the Dutch think of their pets. Thank you so much for another slice of your new life–and a comforting one at that.

    Taking your suggestion to hold my dear cats a little closer tonight, even though most of them will squirm away as if to say, “You’re crazy, lady!”

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