Emergency Care

Emergency Care and Berkshire Veterinary Hospital

Berkshire Veterinary Hospital opened its doors in 1974 with the commitment that we would provide 24 hour service, both hospitalized care and emergency care, to our clients.  We also provided emergency services to others that were unable to find services elsewhere.  We did not intend to be the emergency referral center for all of Berkshire County and the surrounding area.  If a client had established regular veterinary care with another veterinarian they were always encouraged to seek care with their regular veterinarian.  If a client’s regular veterinarian was unable to directly provide those services, clients were instructed to follow the recommendations provided by their veterinarian’s answering service.  If the individual chose not to follow their regular veterinarian’s recommendation, then BVH welcomed them to come in as an emergency.

BVH is not operating as an emergency referral center.  BVH is not staffed with boarded emergency and critical care, boarded internal medicine, or boarded surgical veterinarians.   BVH is not equipped to take in cases from surrounding veterinarians who are unable to provide the care which is best provided under the supervision of boarded specialists.  These cases should and need to be referred to a regional emergency center such as VESH (South Deerfield), Upstate Veterinary Specialties (Latham, NY), or Tufts Veterinary School, or as recommended by their regular veterinarian.

BVH is still committed to providing emergency services for its existing clients and those that are unable to find emergency care elsewhere, even if they are not an existing client.  Despite BVH’s willingness to help those in need, we are limited in staff, expertise, our ability to provide emergency services to everyone.  It is possible that, upon evaluation of a patient by one of our veterinarians, we may strongly recommend a patient be transferred to a regional emergency referral center for more advanced care.   

As with any medical facility, it is possible that BVH may have enough hospitalized or emergency cases that it would be unable to take in additional emergencies.  If this occurs, the staff may need to refer potential emergencies to a regional emergency referral center.  BVH also recognizes that due to the limited number of emergency care facilities in our region, emergencies presenting to referral centers may face extended wait periods.  BVH is willing to provide assistance to those in need however, as a general practice veterinary facility, we simply cannot provide emergency services for everyone.  BVH is not an emergency referral hospital.  Our goal is to try to ensure that patients receive appropriate and adequate care.

Emergency Visits at Berkshire Veterinary Hospital

If you have an animal that is in need of emergency veterinary care and you choose to bring it to BVH, you must recognize that BVH is not an emergency referral hospital.  Fortunately, not all emergencies require advanced medical care.  BVH is capable of providing care for many problems.   You should always call our hospital if you believe you need an emergency visit.  This will allow our staff to advise you on how you will be helped once you arrive.  Please bring whatever medications your pet is on, any special diets, and whatever relevant medical history you have with you.  Emergency visits will be handled as follows:

If you present your animal for an emergency visit during normal operating hours, when a veterinarian is seeing regularly scheduled appointments, our staff will bring your animal into our treatment room area for triage and evaluation.  You will not be permitted to accompany your animal to this area.  The attending veterinarian will evaluate your animal, provide any necessary basic lifesaving care, and possibly request lab work or other tests deemed necessary for proper evaluation and care of your animal.  We will try to obtain your permission prior to performing tests and procedures whenever possible.  As soon as possible, the attending veterinarian will speak with you regarding your animal.  This may be in person or via telephone.

If you present your animal for an emergency visit when a doctor is not seeing regularly scheduled appointments, considered emergency time, you should be prepared to leave your animal with us if a doctor is not present in the hospital.  Because BVH is not an emergency referral center a doctor is not always present in the building.  There is a doctor available to be called in once an emergency is presented to the hospital. 

When you arrive at our hospital with your animal you should notify our staff that you are there.  If the door is locked, there is a doorbell for you to ring.  You may also call our main hospital number: (413) 499-2820 once you are in our parking lot.

Our staff member will obtain a pertinent history and admit your animal to our hospital.  You will not be allowed to accompany your pet to our treatment area or wait with it once it has been admitted.  A staff member will obtain basic vital signs on your pet and notify the veterinarian on call with the information.  Once notified that an emergency has been admitted to the hospital, the on-call doctor will advise our staff on any immediate actions to take and then proceed to come in and evaluate your animal.  Once evaluated, the veterinarian will contact you regarding your pet.

Because there may be multiple emergencies, or it may take time to fully evaluate your pet and obtain lab results, it is asked that you allow for two hours for our veterinarian to contact you.  Often the wait will be considerably less.

During emergency hours, when limited staff members are at our hospital, for security purposes, clients are not allowed to wait inside the building.  On the likely chance that your pet will remain at our hospital for further evaluation and medical treatment, it is advised that most clients return home to await contact from the veterinarian.  If you choose not to return home, you are welcome to wait in your car or, if you prefer, go run any local errands.

BVH recognizes that many clients may be hesitant to leave a pet at our facility during an emergency visit.  We understand that this is a stressful event.  Over the many years that we have seen emergency visits we have found that this practice allows for us to provide the best care that we can to your pet.  We can be more focused on your pet and provide the immediate care that is needed.

There is an emergency fee associated with all emergency visits.  You will be advised of this fee when you call or upon arrival if you have not called.  The emergency fee is expected to be paid when your animal is admitted to the hospital.  The emergency fee only covers the cost for your pet to be evaluated by the veterinarian.  Additional fees for tests and procedures, as well as any medical care, will likely occur.  We will do our best to advise you of these costs.  Please advise us regarding any concerns you may have.  

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