Rappahannock realtor dreams up a pet stretcher

The idea came to her while she slept. In her dream a portable stretcher unfolded and refolded in front of her. That was the extent of the dream.

“I woke up knowing I had to create this,” said Trish Bartholomew, Huntly resident and creator of Madison’s Stretcher Pack, a portable transport system for dogs.

Trish Bartholomew created Madison’s Stretcher Pack after Madison herself (left) became ill during a snowstorm.Kay Beatty
Trish Bartholomew created Madison’s Stretcher Pack after Madison herself (left) became ill during a snowstorm.

A few weeks before the dream, Bartholomew and her dog Madison were homebound from a snowstorm, when Madison became ill.

“While lying beside my recuperating dog, I realized that dog owners should have a pet first aid kit on hand for unforeseen emergencies,” Bartholomew said. “The dream expanded that thought.”

Hiking also helped her form the idea. A real estate agent with Rappahannock Real Estate Resources in Washington, Bartholomew is an avid nature lover who hits the trail almost every weekend. She sees a lot of dogs hiking with their owners and knows how difficult it would be to carry an injured dog from the deep woods.

“There are so many potential problems for dogs on the trail,” Bartholomew said. “It would be challenging to carry a large injured dog to safety without some kind of stretcher. Yet hikers need to pack as light as possible. What I created addresses both issues.”

She also sees uses in the home, on the road and in kennels. “Getting a sick or injured pet to safety shouldn’t be part of a crisis,” she said. “And it’s not practical to always have a conventional bulky transport system around.”

Manufactured in the U.S., Madison’s Stretcher Pack is made of sturdy duck canvas. It weighs just over two pounds and is smaller than most women’s purses.  The stretcher, once removed from the case and unfolded, is 58” x 32” and can securely carry an animal up to 180 pounds. The stretcher can be used as is, with the loops as handles, but the loops are positioned where sticks can be inserted for increased stability and portability, depending on the situation. The pack can double as a first aid kit.

The pet stretcher in action, seen here transporting Dozer comfortably.Courtesy photo
The pet stretcher in action, seen here transporting Dozer comfortably.

“The care of our pets is a big responsibility, and we need to be prepared for all emergencies,” Trish said.

Local veterinarian Lori Blankenship, owner of Animals First Veterinary Service in Rixeyville, incorporates the portable stretcher in her veterinary practice. “I make house calls and carry the equipment I need in my car,” she said. “Before Madison’s Stretcher Pack, I used towels and blankets to carry deceased pets from the home. Now I unzip the Stretcher Pack, put the animal on the stretcher, and peacefully remove it from the home.” She noted only one or two people are needed to carry the animal, depending on the animal’s size.

“I haven’t yet had the opportunity to use it to transport injured animals, but I will,” she said. “There are multiple uses for it in my practice.” She noted that people who own kennels or who are in animal search and rescue teams could find the pack indispensable.

“It’s sturdy and gives the animals a sense of security,” she said. “And it makes transport so much easier.”

Bartholomew is thrilled that the pack’s uses have expanded beyond her original vision.

“I just want to help all the animals I can,” she said. Bartholomew is known for rescuing wild animals and taking them to the Blue Ridge Wildlife Center for rehab. “I wish I could save them all.”

For more information about Madison’s Stretcher Pack, contact Bartholomew at madisonspage@gmail.com or call 540-305-7049.

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