A pet-owner’s last trip to the veterinarian’s office can be heartbreaking. The owner walks into the sterilized, white rooms with his or her best friend, and leaves alone.
A growing number of pet owners are opting out of this experience, instead calling a veterinarian to their house when it’s time for their pet to be put to sleep.
Elizabeth Benson is a veterinarian with Paws into Grace, a service that provides in-home dog and cat euthanasia in San Diego and Temecula.
The service has gained enormous popularity in the past three years. When Benson first started offering the house visits nearly two-and-a-half years ago, there was only one other veterinarian in San Diego offering the same service. Now there are several, and they are making more and more appointments. Benson said when she started, she had just a few visits per week. Now, she can barely accommodate the demand.
“At this point, I get so many calls that I need to refer them to other vets doing the same service,” Benson said.
She believes there was always a demand for the service – most owners are grateful to stay in the comfort of their own homes for the emotional process, and the pets are more at ease without the stress of the veterinarian’s office. In some cases, it may cause the pet more pain to be moved. Owners prefer the last moments of their pets' lives to be as painless as possible, she said.
For Benson, each visit is as rewarding as it is tragic. She sees each family in a significant moment of their lives, and gets to know them over the course of the procedure. It’s hard to see the children cry, or the pet get excited to see her but in the end, she believes she provides a peaceful passing for both pet and owner.
“They feel more comfortable experiencing their grief since it’s in their own home. And for the pets, if they see their owner is less stressed, it’s an easier process for them.”
Benson and other veterinarians also work with a cremation company, which arranges for the remains to be taken away and brought back in an urn. On her and her partner’s website, she lists a variety of grief resources.
“They’re obviously upset, but they’re comforted by this type of service,” Benson said. “We get a lot of letters of people being really grateful.”