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At-Home Euthanasia is Now an Option

RAPS Animal Hospital has been authorized to provide euthanasias at the pet’s home, ensuring families and their pet a comforting transition on their last journey together.

Families facing the saddest moment in the relationship with their pet will now have the option of making that last journey together as comforting as possible, at home.

The RAPS Animal Hospital has received authorization from the College of Veterinarians of B.C. to provide at-home euthanasia.

“It is a service that a lot of pet owners want but one that many veterinary hospitals are not able to offer,” said Dr. Regan Schwartz, a RAPS veterinarian and strong proponent of providing home euthanasias. “Being at home, on their bed, with their loved ones, with the smells and sounds that they know and trust, it couldn’t be more peaceful. I see it as a gift to pets and their families to be able to offer this to them”

In Dr. Regan’s experience, families are overwhelmingly grateful to have said goodbye to their beloved family member where they lived, rather than making a final journey to a place that might be unfamiliar or where the animal might feel nervous.

“Almost every family I have worked with sends me really heartfelt letters of gratitude,” she says. “I think the biggest thing and the most surprising thing for people is how comfortable their animal is. That’s what it’s all about – helping to relieve the suffering of the patient in the most peaceful and stress-free way possible.”

At-home euthanasia appointments are dealt with differently than routine vet appointments. They cannot be booked online. The client can call the RAPS Animal Hospital and the veterinarian will call them back to discuss. If the animal is a patient of RAPS Animal Hospital, the doctor will already be familiar with the case file. If they are not current clients, there will be a consultation process. RAPS is a no-kill organization and that means that euthanasia is administered only when medically warranted. “I have to do that assessment over the phone and then in person,” she says.

It’s not a cut and dry area of veterinary medicine, she says.

“It requires a lot of empathy, compassion and understanding of what the families are going through, and being sensitive to all the factors involved,” says Dr. Regan. “deciding to euthanize a companion animal is one of the most difficult decisions that a pet owner has to make. It’s a process that families need to be supported through with patience and without judgement. I take that role very seriously.”

Putting a pet to sleep is an emotional experience and a heavy weight not only for the family but for the veterinary team as well, and it is cited as a significant contributing factor to the mental health strain in the veterinary sector.

But ensuring that, when it is necessary, it is done in a way that is most compassionate and peaceful for the pet and their people can provide everyone involved with a sense of comfort.

“It is not something that anyone wants to think about,” she says. “But we hope that knowing this is available will reassure people that, when the inevitable day comes, their pet will be at home, comfortable and as surrounded by love at the end as they have been all through their life. Isn’t that what we all would hope for?”