• Barry KuKes

Talking About Pets: Staying with your pet until the end can be a challenge during COVID

A friend who lives in the Indianapolis area recently lost his little Yorkie, Sophie, after having her for 12 years. She was the love of his life and was always in his lap looking for love and attention. He mentioned that due to COVID, he could not be with Sophie as she crossed over the Rainbow Bridge.

His comment caught me off guard at first, but then I realized that one of the private veterinarians I use for my dogs does not allow people into their practice. Their staff comes to the vehicle, takes the animal into their office, and then calls you to discuss findings and available treatment options. Maybe the same distance policy applies to end-of-life services as well? Best to call your vet to confirm before making an end-of-life appointment.

Being that I work for Halifax Humane Society, I brought my dog there when I needed end-of-life services and could stay with him during the process. This was not an exception because I am an employee. Anyone has the option to stay with their pet during end-of-life services at HHS.

I felt very sad for my friend not being allowed to stay with his little girl that he loves so much. I’m afraid I have to disagree with this restriction. Unlike a hospital caring for patients with COVID and trying to protect all visitors, a veterinarian office is not a highly infectious environment. Why is it any different than visit your physician or visiting HHS? People wear masks and maintain social distancing guidelines to protect themselves and each other. Why deprive a family of staying with their beloved pet when the pet needs them most when there is no evidence or occurrence of a positive COVID person in the facility?

Yes, I understand that veterinarians are concerned about their employees and their clients, but can’t they schedule accordingly? If I visit my physician, he doesn’t come out to my car to examine me; his office schedules my appointment between other appointments, so the waiting room is always empty when I enter. I would think most veterinarians would make an exception when it comes to end-of-life services, but that was not an option in this case. If you require end-of-life services for your pet, please call your veterinarian in advance to verify whether they will allow you to be with your pet. If not, you do have the option of bringing your pet to HHS, and you will be allowed to stay with your pet if you wish. I am not trying to steal business from any of our veterinarian friends; I am trying to enable people to be with their pets until the very end. I feel strongly that this must happen.

As always, adopt, don’t shop.

Barry KuKes is the community outreach director at Halifax Humane Society. He recently published a collection of his columns titled "Why do People Have Pets?" which is available at amzn.to/2RWr2d4

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