K-State veterinary hospital's Wildcat Express provides helpful service
By Angie Johnson
While Kansas State University's Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital provides specialty veterinary care for the region, the hospital's Wildcat Express provides the transportation.
The Wildcat Express is a van that travels to and from Wichita on Tuesdays and to and from Lincoln, Neb., and Omaha, Neb., on Thursdays. It stops anywhere along the way, picking up animals that have been referred by their vets and need special treatment or diagnosis from K-State's veterinary hospital. The service has been available for almost seven years now.
"We are like the KU Medical Center for animals," said Dr. Roger Fingland, professor of surgery and director of the teaching hospital. "We have the Wildcat Express to provide a transportation service for referrals so clients don't have to take time off work to bring their pet here."
The purple and white vehicle is a custom-built van with 12 built-in cages for all types of small animals and a trailer for large animals. K-State's veterinary hospital spent $58,000 to have the Wildcat Express built by a company in Iowa that makes mobile veterinary clinics. It has an electric generator for air conditioning and an auxiliary heater to keep the pets comfortable. Clients who use the service pay $72 to transport small animals and $147 to transport large animals.
"Our driver takes excellent care of the vehicle," Fingland said. "It has even traveled to kennel club shows and people are really impressed with it."
Mark Scott, animal science technician at K-State's veterinary hospital, has been the driver of the Wildcat Express for almost three years. Scott is pictured at right with the vehicle. He said sometimes the animals can make a lot of noise, but mostly they are very cooperative.
"I have heard nothing but good comments about the service," Scott said. "It runs pretty smoothly and is great public relations."
About 100 clients use the Wildcat Express service each year. Fingland said most people don't want to take off work two separate days of the week to bring their animal to Manhattan for treatment; it's an inconvenience. He said transportation is a very important service of the K-State veterinary hospital because it sometimes makes the difference as to whether patients come to Manhattan or not.
"I don't know of any other service that does what we do," Fingland said. "This is unique."