COMPANION ANIMAL HOSPICE CARE
This important end-of-life, in-home service for people’s beloved animals, as posted in an earlier column, has generated much interest in the U.S. and abroad. I would appreciate hearing from readers and those involved in this new service to help provide some links for all who might wish to secure such care for their animals. This topic was recently featured in an article by veterinarian Dr. Ella Bittel (www.spiritsintransition.org) in the Integrative Veterinary Care journal (Winter 2012). Details about such services available in Wisconsin which could serve as a model for other states are posted below:
Healing Heart Foundation, Inc. is a 501c3 non- profit organization that sponsors programs that promote the philosophies and spirit of the Human Animal Bond. Our organization consists of three major programs. Healing Heart Pet Hospice cares for end-of-life pets in their home. Healing Heart Pet Loss Partnership supports pet families experiencing anticipatory grief as well as grief after pet loss. Healing Heart Pet Care Fund provides financial assistance for qualified families in need of providing a medical procedure for their pet that puts the Human Animal Bond in jeopardy. Besides serving our community of pet parents in areas that affect the Human Animal Bond, we also make ourselves available to present workshops and other educational opportunities to our community of veterinary professionals. With growth and additional resources, we will be able to offer CE opportunities to our colleagues and offer tools for the complete scope of end-of-life care for pets to include palliative care options and end-of-life care communication. /p>
Two years of research, studying and mentoring was completed prior to start up in 2008, and the Healing Heart Pet Hospice program was launched that same year. In the years that followed, we saw the need to add the Healing Heart Pet Loss Partnership program and the Healing Heart Pet Care Fund to our services. We have assisted many families and their pets in the Fox Cities and surrounding areas in Wisconsin. Our Foundation’s story has been published in many pet publications in print and online. Our President is sought after to speak on end-of-life care for pets nationally and internationally, and has been published in a major veterinary source book.
Healing Heart Pet Hospice
This program is structured with Hospice Caregivers and Hospice DVM’s. Complimentary services within the community are sought if needed. Care is provided for end-of-life pets in their own home and assistance is provided to the families as we empower them at this most sacred time of love and loss. This care is available to families 24 hours a day 7 days a week. Hospice DVM’s work pro-bono. The Hospice Caregivers, all Certified Veterinary Technicians, are not, at this time, compensated in any way. It is the Hospice Caregivers, under the direct supervision of the Hospice DVM and following Wisconsin State Statues, who deliver home care to pets and families. The fact that the Hospice Caregivers are not being compensated for any of their services is causing quite a hardship now, four years after this programs’ inception. It is the nursing care of the Hospice Caregiver as well as their expertise and experiences in the entire scope of the hospice philosophy that is the backbone of this important service.
For the first time, in a comprehensive and systemized way, pet families in Northeast Wisconsin have options for their beloved pets that have been diagnosed with a life-limiting illness, but still have quality-of-life time to spend at home with their families in familiar surroundings. Through the expert guidance of a cohesive and experienced veterinary team, these families can feel confident and trust the care they are receiving. The services of the Healing Heart Pet Hospice allow families to keep their pets at home until the time comes to say ‘goodbye’. In-home veterinary hospice and palliative care eliminates hospital stays and further diagnostics which can compromise the pets’ quality of life, financially strap the family with more tests and more treatments, and interrupt the bond they share with their family due to lengthy hospital stays.
In addition, since July of 2011, the AVMA has mandated that if a veterinary facility cannot offer hospice and palliative care services, they are obligated to refer this care if it is available. In Northeast Wisconsin, we are providing that care. The constituency of this program is a complete cross section of today’s pet family from the very young to the very old and crosses all financial demographics. When it comes to the Human Animal Bond, the commitment people make crosses all barriers.
Valarie Hajek Adams, CVT
President, Healing Heart Foundation, Inc.
Director, Healing Heart Pet Hospice
920 450 7805