For several years, Orange Live has been sharing the good work done by Jon Nowinski and his Amity based organization, EARS (Emergency Animal Rescue Service), which was born from a series of emergency situations during an unusually brutal winter — barn collapses and large animal rescues when there weren’t many trained professionals in the area that could help.
Each year, volunteer members trained hard and dedicated countless hours learning new skills and sharing their knowledge with emergency personnel (firefighters, police, animal owners). EARS grew as the go-to group, which specialized in just about anything that anyone needed in CT.
Nowinski transformed his SUV into the EARS 1 vehicle, filling it with all the equipment his group needed for a wide variety of responses.
As their reputation grew, so did the needs of this volunteer organization.
Jon landed a job with the VCA Shoreline Veterinary Referral and Emergency Center in Shelton. He saw more and more situations in which an ambulance would be a priceless addition to assist in EARS responses.
Back in 2012 I had the most beautiful Golden Retriever that meant the world to me. One night, I gave him dinner, let him out and then went on a news assignment that kept me away from home for about 3 hours.
When I returned, he did not greet me at the door as he had for the previous 5 years. I searched for him in the bedrooms, livingroom, under the kitchen table and he was nowhere to be found. Finally I located him under the desk in the dining room. He was lying on his side, panting heavily and his stomach was huge, about 3 times its normal size. He was obviously in pain.
I put out a plea to my friend who is a veterinarian, she told me that it sounded like bloat, and to get him to the emergency hospital as fast as possible.
I tried to get him into the SUV, but he couldn’t jump up, he was in so much pain. I couldn’t pick him up because I didn’t want to hurt him any more. I was frantic to get help, just so I could quickly get him to the hospital.
Luckily, my brother was nearby and helped me lift Baron into the back seat after we got him to lay down on a blanket.
The ride up to New Haven was excruciating. Baron was crying in the back seat where he’d always happily paced across.
That was the night I had to say goodbye to my best friend. What I needed more than anything was someone who could help me, prepare me for what bloat does to a dog and explain that he would likely never return home.
NOW THERE IS HELP
After searching for a used ambulance, Jon set up a gofundme page to raise enough money to purchase a good responsible vehicle. With EARS excellent reputation, the response was overwhelming. In March, after locating a used ambulance that could be transformed to accommodate animals of all species and sizes, EARS was able to buy the Rescue 2 Ambulance, the ONLY animal ambulance in CT.
It took months of work to get the ambulance ready for the road. It was outfitted with cabinets for bandages, emergency clothing (the Orange Volunteer Fire Department donated old fire turnout gear to EARS). a specially equipped stretcher, several sizes of animal oxygen masks, travel crates and so much more.
Since it came into service, Rescue 2 has responded to dozens of emergency situations, including several that mirror my own personal needs from four years ago. It has transported large dogs — Great Danes, Labradors, etc. that were too big for the owner to lift, or bigger than the limited area available inside a typical car or the Rescue 1 SUV.
Working with the Emergency Hospital, Nowinski also has been called for some unusual patients, including a Maned Wolf from the Beardsley Zoo that needed surgery.
Nowinski said he has had positive response from people around the state. When he is driving on the thruway, regular (human) ambulances will pull up alongside and the emergency personnel will give him a thumbs up.
“In Connecticut we are pretty unique,” he said. “No one has ever seen anything like this before.”
From the EARS website:
Because of our certification and training in animal triage, safe and compassionate transportation of injured animals, and the capabilities of our Animal Ambulance such as onboard pet oxygen and triage supplies, we are available to help make sure that animals receive the best possible care they can when faced with an emergency! We can be called upon by individual owners as well as veterinary practice, and are also available to emergency services facing animal issues such as pulling animals from house fires, car accidents, or other incidents. We carry special equipment that is similar to what you would find on a regular ambulance, but is animal-specific. Among this includes:
· Two pet stretchers
· Oxygen masks and an oxygen tank
· Triage supplies
· Lift-Assist for down dogs
· A unique carrier for cats and small dogs that are in respiratory distress
· Sling support
· Heated pet blankets
· Extra slip leashes and supplies
· And a battery generator that can run IV pumps or monitoring equipment during transit
We are available on-call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and responds to all requests as quickly as possible. And while we primarily operate in Fairfield and New Haven Counties, we do dispatch throughout Connecticut when there is a need.
Contact us at http://www.earsct.org/ or call 203-872-PAWS (7297) or for 24/7 Animal Emergency #203-247-0310
How You Can Help EARS
As with the other aspects of EARS, our animal ambulance service has always been – and will continue to be – operated strictly through donations. We do not charge owners or veterinarians who call us, and do not require a set donation for our assistance. The way we keep going is by the support of animal lovers and the community, and we have been lucky to have that wonderful group behind us. For more information on how you can help, please read about our service, and visit our DONATE & SUPPORT page on our website.
The Orange Ale House & Grille, 517 Boston Post Road, Orange will host the EARS Fundraiser Bash on Saturday, August 13 from 3 – 7 p.m.