In the United States, pet hospice services are gaining popularity in several states. Such services ensure that pets will die peacefully and their owners can grieve but not feel guilty of having their pets euthanized in veterinary clinics.
Lap of Love, a veterinary hospice and in-home pet euthanasia service has grown from just having two veterinarians when it started in 2010 to having over 68 partners located in 18 states. A similar story is true for the International Association for Animal Hospice and Palliative Care, a group of veterinarians, lawyers, and family therapists that was formed in 2009 offering end-of-life care for elderly and terminally-ill pets.
"They're in their own environment, not only the pet but the owners. They're allowed to have other animals present, other cats or dogs present, other children. I've been to some homes where they had barbecues for that dog, and invited me and the neighbors, and the dog was the man of the hour," said Lap of Love co-founder Dr. Mary Gardner in an interview with The New York Times.
Pet hospice services guarantee that the canine, feline, or other pets will spend their last days with their loving human families. The premium on such services are considered well-spent money by pet lovers who do not want to see their pets suffering due to aggressive medical intervention and by those who want to make sure they have done everything for pets they consider as "another member" of the family.
Jan Dorr from Florida, for example, spent $5,000 for the chemotherapy of Darby, her Labrador Retriever, whose health continued to deteriorate despite all treatments. She heard of Lap of Love and entertained the thought of pet hospice. Dorr consulted Dr. Gardner who gave more pain medications and taught the former how to recognize signs that the dog is about to go.
When it was time for Darby to go, Dorr was hugging Darby as the veterinarian injected the drug to put her to sleep.
"She let me say when. I just couldn't get it into my head to put him on a steel table in a cold room and let him go," Dorr said.
According to experts, the growing popularity of pet hospice may be similar to how society accepts hospice for humans. Vets also see it as a good alternative practice compared to operating a traditional clinic.
"There are skeptics out there. But 20 years ago, there was almost no one other than skeptics, and that's changing rapidly.The core of the debate is who is to decide when is the right time to euthanize, if at all," said Dr. Amir Shanan of the International Association for Animal Hospice.