Minnesota Pet Hospice Volunteers Comfort Terminally Ill, Elderly Animals - NBC 7 San Diego
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Minnesota Pet Hospice Volunteers Comfort Terminally Ill, Elderly Animals

"We need to be there and be that voice for the voiceless, for the animals that are overlooked and might not be that bright, shiny cute puppy," said Maia Rumpho

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An informal but dedicated network of pet hospice volunteers across the Twin Cities is working through local animal rescues to provide comfort to terminally ill and elderly animals.

    The Pet Project Rescue has been running the Lukas Project hospice program since 2011, Minnesota Public Radio reported. Secondhand Hounds also launched a hospice program called Forever Loved about three years ago.

    "We need to be there and be that voice for the voiceless, for the animals that are overlooked and might not be that bright, shiny cute puppy," said Maia Rumpho, the founder of Pet Project Rescue.

    The hospice network eases the burden of caring for sick or elderly animals by covering vet and food bills for foster families. The rescues spend at least $1,000 on each hospice case. The projects are funded through donations.

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    Animal experts say pets often process loss in a manner similar to humans. In a recent newsletter published by the Funeral Consumer Alliance of Maine, researcher Jessica Pierce says a growing body of research into 'animal thanatology' suggests common pets such as dogs and cats seem to share with humans many behavioral reactions to death, such as mourning and rituals of farewell, NBC affiliate WCSH reports.

    "When one of them dies and another one is left behind they often, people will report, the one left behind won't eat as much or will just seem depressed, or will walk around the house looking for their friend," Pierce says.

    (Published Thursday, July 27, 2017)

    "We feel like their life is worth it," Rumpho said.

    Sick or elderly animals are often at a disadvantage when it comes to adoption because families are often hesitant to care for a pet that needs regular medication and veterinary visits. It can also be an emotionally draining task as animals may soon die.

    Eileen and Eric Hill began fostering Laddie in April. The elderly toy poodle lost a leg in a car accident and has failing kidneys.

    "We don't choose to worry about we're not going to have her anymore," Eileen Hill said. "We just choose to give her the best life possible."

    The couple's first hospice foster was Little Miss Rue, who died in April. The couple hadn't planned to take on another animal so soon, but couldn't turn down helping Laddie.

    "We just decided we needed to keep doing this in honor of (Little Miss Rue)," Eileen Hill said. "It was hard. And it's still raw ... but how can you say I need to take a break because that hurt too much?"

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