The novel coronavirus has disrupted all our lives in many ways and it can add an extra layer of worry for anyone who is contemplating the impending loss of a beloved friend and family member. My goal has always been to provide the most gentle, loving, supported death possible, to allow pets to remain in their safe space while also preserving their connection to the people they trust most in the world. We can stay true to that goal, if together we decide on a workable plan ahead of time. We can preserve that sense of being fully-present for your pet, while also doing our part to limit the spread of the novel coronavirus.
We will need to employ masks. If we are inside we will both wear masks the entire time. If we are outside there may be a brief moment when we both need to be beside your pet at the same time, and for that moment we will need to wear masks. Once I step back you can remove your mask and your pet will again be able to see your familiar face.
We will need to arrange appropriate social distance. I will need you to partner with me to limit the time spent in proximity to each other. We can do this if at times I step away to give you time beside your pet, and if at other times you step away so I can work beside your pet.
We will want to choose the location which provides the best possible ventilation. If the weather permits this will be outdoors, possibly in your backyard, on a porch, or in an uncluttered garage. When the ventilation is excellent we will not need to be as reliant on masking and distancing.
Getting this right involves some advance planning and collaboration. Our plan should take into account your wishes, your pet’s personality, your pet’s condition, the various settings available to us, your wishes for after care etc. The more I understand, the better I can help you. The more you understand, about what is possible and about what to expect, the better you can let go of worry, leave the details to me, and be a source of comfort for your pet.
There is one fee for veterinary aid-in dying anywhere within a 30 minute drive of Kingston, from Napanee to Gananoque and north to Verona. The fee is $475 + HST. Outside of this travel zone, there is a travel fee calculated at $240/hr.
A 15 minute telephone consultation is included at no additional fee as part of the intake process when booking an appointment for Veterinary Aid-in-Dying. If you are uncertain about timing, and feel you would benefit from a consultation for help with end-of-life decision making, I am offering one hour telephone appointments for $200 + HST.
If you wish for after-care, I am able to make all arrangements for cremation. The fee will depend on your pet’s body weight and whether or not you wish to have their ashes returned to you.
What to expect at the appointment
If your pet is a dog
The goal is for this to be a non-event for your dog, where they drift away in their safe space, knowing they are loved. I will first give them a sedative so I can be certain that nothing I do will worry them – like touching a paw or turning on clippers. This is in the form of a tiny needle in the loose skin over their shoulders. It doesn’t sting and is much like getting a vaccine only with an even tinier needle. Often we can use a super-yummy treat to distract them so they don’t even notice the needle. It will be reassuring for your dog if you are at their head petting them or offering a treat while I briefly step in to give the sedative. (If we are outside this is the time when we both need to wear masks. Then I will step back and you can remove your mask and your dog can see your face once again.)
You can sit with your dog while the sedative takes effect – usually about 5 to 10 minutes. After your dog has fallen asleep, is no longer trying to follow you with their eyes, and will no longer notice if you are not right there, you can step back and I will step in to prepare to administer the euthanasia solution. At any point if your dog seems aware of anything I am doing we will pause and let them get deeper with the sedative. (If we are outside and we are both masked you may remain at your dog’s side.)
If your pet is a cat an outside appointment is only an option if they feel comfortable outside and there is no risk that they will be able to struggle to get away and then hide. My chosen technique works beautifully for cats who feel safe in their person’s arms or for cats who are comfortable being gently hugged to your chest for about 5 seconds while I give them a needle. (If we are outside we will only need to wear masks for these few seconds, then I will step back and you can remove your mask. Your cat will be able to see your uncovered face as they slowly drift away in the comfort of your arms, or on your lap, or in their chosen bed.)
Preparing for the appointment
Step 1: Please fill in the contact form if you wish to initiate the process. But before you start please consider one thing – how urgent is your pet’s need? If your pet needs immediate relief from pain or distress then finding immediate relief is the greatest kindness. Please don’t wait for a home visit if your pet needs help now. It may be a few days before I can be of service.
Step 2: I will contact you to schedule a fifteen minute telephone call to gather additional relevant information. Together we can determine if the service I am able to offer at this time is an acceptable option for your pet and your family.
Step 3: Handle all paperwork in advance.
i) I will send you an authorisation form for Veterinary aid-in-dying. I will require you to confirm via email that you have read the form and that you are authorising me to proceed on the specified date.
ii) If you are requesting private cremation with your pet’s ashes returned I will ask you to choose an urn in advance at www.gatewaypetmemorial.com and inform me of your choice.
iii) I will send you an invoice in advance of our scheduled appointment with all the information you need to pay by e-transfer. I can also take cash or a cheque at the actual appointment if that is easier for you.
iv) If your pet is a cat I will send you a picture illustrating the best way to hold your cat so they feel safe and secure in your arms while I briefly step in to give an injection.