Those in hospice must accept the fact they’re going to die. It’s not always easy to do because they may have so many worries and concerns on their mind: Family, friends, their homes and even their pets. Pet Peace of Mind is an organization that works with hospice programs to ensure the beloved pets of terminally ill patients will be sent to a loving home after they’re gone.
Knowing that someone is taking care of their pet during their final days and that their furry friend will be sent to a good home lifts many burdens from their hearts and minds. When in hospice, many are usually separated from their furry pals. This is when they need their love and comfort the most.
“I know of countless patients who have said that their pet is their lifeline. Pets are great medicine for coping with the anxiety the comes from dealing with a serious medical condition,” Pet Peace of Mind president Dianne McGill said.
“For many patients, keeping their pets near them during the end of life journey and finding homes for their beloved pets after they pass is one of the most important pieces of unfinished business.”
The Pet Peace of mind program not only rehomes these pets after their previous owner dies, but it also makes sure the animals are nearby during the end-of-life journey of their human companion.
“The Pet Peace of Mind program provides nonprofit hospices with a turnkey approach to help them train volunteers to help patients with their pet care needs, provides seed funding to get the program off the ground, and offers advice and assistance for the life of the program. People have come to bond with their pets in much the same way they bond with people,” their Facebook page reads.
“Pets are treated and loved like family members, and they comfort their owners much like a close friend or relative. It is no wonder then that during the end-of-life journey, pets can play a critical role. Unfortunately, as families deal with grief and loss during hospice care, pets may be overlooked, forgotten, or even ignored by family members unfamiliar with the patient’s bond with a pet.”
The organization runs on the support of donations and the hard work of volunteers who do everything from play fetch with an ill person’s dog, to grooming them to re-homing them after their human owner dies. “We had all seen things happen where the patient was in their ending days, and they were so concerned about what was going to happen to their pet, and the family would say, ‘It’s OK, we’ll take care of it,’ and then the patient would die and the dog was off to the pound,” said Karen Jeffries, volunteer coordinator for St. Luke’s Hospice, told U.S. News and World Report.
This was before the hospice started to partner with Pet Peace of Mind. Now pet owners can pass away knowing their pets will be taken care of. “The social worker said, ‘Oh, Karen, you’re going to have to rehome all five of these.’ The man is in his 80s, can barely take care of himself let alone the dogs,” Jeffries recalls. “On his deathbed, he signs his dogs over to me.”
“I said, ‘I promise I’ll give them all a good home.’ It took a while, but eventually, each of the dogs went to a new family. That was a real labor of love. He wouldn’t have rested peacefully if he didn’t know those dogs had gone somewhere.”