Preparing for your appointment: On the morning of your appointment you will receive a text or call confirming the time frame of your appointment. Dr. Atkins will also text you when she is on the way with an expected ETA. Most appointments last about 30 minutes. The time of the appointment is often dictated by the time each individual pet takes to become comfortably sedate. Due to COVID and the need to social distance, we ask that you be as prepared as possible before Dr. Atkins arrives. This usually means that your family has decided on aftercare and chosen an urn/memorial products ahead of time and that everyone in the family is ready to proceed with euthanasia. Everyone who opts to be present for the euthanasia should be at the house before Dr. Atkins arrives.
When Dr. Atkins arrives please meet her outside with a mask on and leave your pet inside or resting wherever they are.
The first few minutes of your time will be dedicated to taking care of administrative and logistical items. There will be a review of paperwork. This will confirm your wishes for the appointment and aftercare. Other steps will include: payment (acceptable payment methods are cash, check made payable to: “Paws Finding Peace” or credit card), and a review of the location you have selected for your appointment. If inclement weather is expected, please have a location identified that includes a covered area such as a garage or porch with adequate space and ventilation.
Dr. Atkins will advise you when it is time to bring your pet outside. For large dogs, please have their collar on and have them on a leash. If your pet is nervous when strangers come to the house, please let us know this before the appointment. We will want to do our best to make sure your pet has no anxiety during the appointment and we need to make sure that everyone stays safe.
Dr. Atkins will walk you through the process. Our goal is to make this process as peaceful as possible for your pet and family.
Children: Often children over the age of 5 or 6 are able to let you know what their personal preference is. Some kids know that they want to be present, and others know they do not want to be at the house. Some children and adults are not 100% sure. If that is the case, we recommend they come out for the part of the process where Dr. Atkins explains what will happen. Then, they can be where they want to be, on their own terms. When children are involved, Dr. Atkins will make it clear that they have permission to be wherever it is they need/want to be. Children under the age of 4 generally do best with pre-arranged childcare. If you are unable to pre-arrange childcare, then one adult is usually “assigned” child duty. That adult would need to be prepared to go inside with their child if needed. Please let us know if you have young children. Dr. Atkins usually has a used copy of the books, “Dog Heaven” and “Cat Heaven” that she can leave with your family. There are also Sesame Street episodes on pet loss that can be helpful.
Other Pets: We recommend keeping other pets inside during your pets passing. After your pet has passed, you are welcomed to bring them out to say their goodbyes. This can be an important part of the sibling pet’s closure and grieving process. There are times when it may be appropriate for another pet to be present for the procedure, but usually the other pet is more interested in Dr. Atkins and her bags (new smells, new person) than in the euthanasia process.
Suggestions: Others have found the following items helpful to have available
Soft music/favorite playlist
Kleenex and small trash container
Fluffy blanket for pet and family to lay on
Old towel to go on your lap if you have a small pet who may be on your lap
After your pet has passed: If Dr. Atkins is taking your pet for cremation, she will transport your pet to her car. Smaller pets will be carried to her vehicle in her basket or a blanket. Larger pets will be secured to a stretcher and carried to her car. For large dogs (over 70 lbs) you may need to have multiple people ready to help move the stretcher. (This is usually discussed on the phone during our initial phone conversation).
If you chose private cremation, your pet’s ashes will be returned to your regular veterinarian. For those who do not have a regular vet, Dr. Atkins will discuss your options when she is at your home (delivery by mail for a fee or meet Dr. Atkins in Holyoke for pick up).
If you choose to keep your pet with you for a home burial, we ask that you follow your town’s regulations, or at least a 3-4 foot grave.
Memorial products: Dr. Atkins makes a clay paw print to leave with your family. Additional clay paw prints can be purchased for $20 (please let us know ahead of time if you would like additional clay paw prints). Dr. Atkins can make ink prints at no-charge. Ink prints often come out a little “abstract” for those with hairy toes but they are a great keepsake for individual family members. If anyone would like a lock of hair, just ask.
If you have chosen private cremation, we will text you the selection of urns that come included with private cremation. If you would like a special order urn or additional memorial products from Final Gift’s website, you can let us know ahead of time or at the beginning of the appointment. This should be discussed amongst family members before the appointment. Additional memorial products can be found at: https://www.finalgift.com/memorial-products/
Grief: Grief is a very complicated emotion, we all process and express grief differently. Almost all pet families experience doubt, guilt and tremendous sadness. These emotions are usually part of the grieving process. Even when you know you are making the right decision for your beloved pet, it is still incredibly hard. Please refer to the page on the website with grief resources. You may find this helpful. https://www.pawsfindingpeace.com/grief-resources/
Rallying the night-before or day-of: It is very common for your pet to decide to have a “good day” right before the appointment. This can create a great deal of confusion for the pet family. Usually it is a minor improvement for example, a dog who has not eaten in 2 days eats a small bite of chicken or a dog who can barely walk takes 10 steps before falling down as opposed to 2 steps. Usually this “rally” does not equate to a good quality of life, but it can cause families to have doubt. You may need to circle back to the quality of life scale to help ease your peace of mind. Dr. Atkins is always thankful when a dog or cat has a “good day” as their last memory.
Cancellation policy: If you cancel an appointment within 24 hours of the scheduled appointment time you will be charged $100 cancellation fee. Unfortunately, canceling an appointment means that your appointment slot was not available for another family with a pet in need.
We try to be as reasonable as possible with cancelations. If your pet needs to go to the ER for euthanasia during the night, you will not be charged a cancelation fee.
COVID policy reminder: This is a friendly reminder that Dr. Atkins is not entering homes and everyone who wishes to be present must wear a mask. Please make sure everyone is wearing their mask upon her arrival. Thank you for your compliance - this is the only way we can continue to provide care during the pandemic. Dr. Lauren Atkins with Paws Finding Peace - You will receive this message via text before your appointment as a reminder.