For people approaching their end-of-life what will happen to their loved ones – including their pets – is always a looming concern. Who will take care of their canine companion when they are too sick to care for them?
Some hospice patients are not as fortunate as others in having friends or family who will look after their pets in their time of need and after they are gone.
Furthermore, patients moving into palliative care would love to have the comfort of their furry loved ones, but are often forced to give them up when they need them most.
That’s where a group called Pet Peace of Mind felt they should focus their energies. The national organization works with hospices and palliative care organizations throughout the United States to help dying patients keep their pets as long as possible, keep the pets healthy and then find the animals homes.
One hospital that has partnered with Pet Peace of Mind is St. Luke’s Hospice in Idaho.
They have helped 85 patients and families since 2016 and the program runs on donations and volunteers. Volunteers make sure the dogs are groomed, walked, fed and played with.
“We had all seen things happen where the patient was in their ending days, and they were so concerned about what was going to happen to their pet, and the family would say, ‘It’s OK, we’ll take care of it,’ and then the patient would die and the dog was off to the pound,” said Karen Jeffries, volunteer coordinator for St. Luke’s Hospice.
To avoid such unhappy, unfinished endings for patients’ dogs, volunteers in the program work with patients to find the pets new homes.
“I know of countless patients who have said that their pet is their lifeline. Pets are great medicine for coping with the anxiety the comes from dealing with a serious medical condition,” says Pet Peace of Mind president, Dianne McGill. “For many patients, keeping their pets near them during the end of life journey and finding homes for their beloved pets after they pass is one of the most important pieces of unfinished business.”
This is a truly touching program and one that any pet lover can appreciate. To learn more about the program, visit the Pet Peace of Mind website and share this story with your friends.