CREEKWOOD — Creekwood resident Cheryl Brady’s great idea came 25 years ago as a vet technician in college.
What if there was an ambulance service for pets?
Nah, she thought. It just doesn’t seem feasible.
And for the next 20-plus years, Brady didn’t give the idea a second thought. Instead she forged into the business world as a FedEx driver and later in business-to-business sales.
Until two years ago, when a friend hit a dog with her vehicle. As Brady drove to the scene to assist her frantic friend, her own thoughts began building. How can I get the dog in the car? Where should I take it? Where’s the closest veterinarian?
“I was thinking how could I have helped that dog and literally, the light bulb started going off,” Brady said. “Right then and there, I knew there was a purpose, and I knew I would have to do this, as crazy as it seemed.”
First, Brady checked to see if there were similar concepts being used anywhere. She found about three similar businesses across the country but nothing exactly like hers. After one-and-one-half years of research and preparation, Brady in January launched Vet Care Express, a 24-hour, seven-days-per-week ambulance service for pets. The ambulance is equipped with stretchers and gurneys, backboards, cages, first-aid supplies and even oxygen and masks for dogs and cats.
Brady offers both emergency and non-emergency services, whether transporting a pet to a veterinary appointment for an owner who is ill or responding to a call where an animal is seizing or has been hit by a car. In either scenario, Brady said her goal is to make the pets — and their owners — as comfortable as possible.
“Word is getting out,” she said. “The first question I get is when are you guys expanding?”
Soon, she hopes. Very soon.
Brady this month is a contender for a $250,000 grant through the Pepsi Refresh Everything Project — a campaign to give away $1.3 million each month to people or businesses who come up with ideas that have a positive impact on their community. Brady hopes to use the $250,000 to purchase 10 more vans for services, as well to retrofit them and supply them with the proper equipment.
Voters have through Sept. 30 to vote for her idea on the project’s website, www.refresheverything.com, and to help bring her vision to reality.
In addition to Vet Care Express, Brady serves as a local volunteer firefighter. There, she has seen how critical proper handling of a patient can be. When it comes to pets, she said, that care is equally important.
In a recent case she handled, a dog ran into a sliding glass door while playing and was knocked unconscious. Brady handled the dog with great care, using a towel to ease him on a stretcher. Once at the vet, they learned the dog had a blood clot in his spinal column from the accident. Had the dog been moved incorrectly, the outcome may have been far worse, she said.
“(Pets are) dependent on us, and it’s our charge to take as best care of them as we can,” Brady said. “I really think this should be standard care for pets.”
Contact Pam Eubanks at [email protected].
You can vote for Cheryl Brady’s idea on www.refresheverything.com by visiting the “Browse Ideas & Vote” section, typing in “Vet Care Express” and clicking on the “vote” button. Individuals can vote once a day for her idea through the duration of the contest, which ends Sept. 30.