A Manawatu¯ after-hours animal emergency ambulance service is running on empty due to a lack of volunteer drivers.
The Manawatu¯ SPCA operates two ambulance vehicles to help sick and injured animals that require immediate veterinary assistance.
However, Palmerston North centre manager Katie Pedersen said the SPCA had been operating on minimal volunteer ambulance staff through the winter.
She said too few drivers on the roster increased the chance of volunteer burn-out, meaning more stress on the remaining drivers and staff pressed in to maintain the service.
With summer approaching Pedersen would like more drivers for the out-of-hours and weekend roster.
‘‘In spring and summer we get a lot more call-outs. With finer weather and daylight saving there are more people on the road and more animals get injured.’’
The majority of animal injuries were caused by cars, and while cats and dogs dominated, at this time of year Pedersen said they got a lot of ducklings.
‘‘We had nine ducklings here yesterday. A cat had got one of them, the other eight had lost their mother, run over by a car.’’
The ducklings were sent to Turakina’s Bird Rescue.
While the thought of rescuing fluffy ducklings may help with driver recruitment, Pedersen said volunteers needed to have strong stomachs.
‘‘It can be traumatic. Some of the incidents are not pleasant. But our volunteers say that if they didn’t turn up, the animal would be left suffering. Helping alleviate that makes you feel good.’’
While volunteers who have animal handling skills are preferred, full training in all aspects of the job will be given.
‘‘We teach procedure and equipment use, and telephone manner to deal with people who call in and who may be upset.’’
The SPCA’s after-hours region extends from Ashhurst across to Halcombe, out to Sanson and across the river to Linton.
‘‘We are looking for animal lovers who are responsible and reliable drivers with a full licence and clean driving record who are able to cope with emergency situations.’’
The ambulance service operates between 7.30am and 9pm seven days a week. Ideally volunteers would be rostered one week on and have between five to seven weeks off, Pedersen said.
Katie Pedersen, Palmerston North SPCA manager with George.