Veterinary aid-in-dying at home during Covid-19
My goal has always been to provide the most gentle, loving, supported death possible, and 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 while still doing our part to limit the spread of the coronavirus, if we come up with a workable plan ahead of time together.
All appointments will need to be outside – possibly in your backyard, on a porch, or in an uncluttered garage. It is important to consider whether this is a safe and comfortable option for your pet and your family. This might not be a good option for an indoor cat if they are likely to try to run away and hide. Is there any shade where your pet would be comfortable away from the hot sun, or a canopy that would allow shelter from rain? Is there enough privacy for your family?
I will need you to partner with me to maintain a minimum 6 foot distance between us. 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. 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 both 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.
What to expect at the appointment
If your pet is a dog 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. 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 6 feet 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.
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.
If your pet is a cat it is important that they feel comfortable outside and that there is no risk that they will be able to struggle to get away and then hide.It is also important that they are comfortable being gently hugged to your chest for about 5 seconds while I give them a needle. We will both 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: A contact form will pop up at the bottom of the contact page once you answer ‘ yes’ to having read this post. Please fill it in and send it to me.
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 authorization form for Veterinary aid-in-dying. I will require you to confirm via email that you have read the form and that you are authorizing 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 (while we are both wearing masks) to give an injection.