A few months ago my husband and I made the difficult, heart-wrenching decision to have our dog euthanized. Before we decided that this would be best for our dog, many friends recommended the local company Angel’s Paws. We called the company on a Saturday morning and by early Saturday evening, our beloved dog was finally at peace. We received the support, reassurance, and comfort from Angel’s Paws that our Veterinarian was unable to give us.
Although this particular Saturday was one of the more difficult days in our lives, we felt as though we could finally take a breath, knowing that our dog was not suffering anymore. We were so blessed and touched by the whole experience. I would like to take this opportunity to tell you what a great company this is and how they can help you or anyone you know dealing with a sick pet.
Angel’s Paws is a one-of-a-kind company. It is the only pet hospice company in the nation that provides a full range of services including pet hospice, home euthanasia, private cremation, free pet loss support groups and individual grief counseling. Angel’s Paws strives to provide a mirror image of how human hospice works. At Angel’s Paws, there are not only Veterinarians and Veterinary Technicians to provide the medical needs of the pet, but there are other licensed employees who are able to provide emotional support to grieving pet owners. Just like with human hospice, at Angel’s Paws, the whole family is the patient, and hospice can become involved well before the sick pet is in the final stages of dying.
Angel’s Paws was founded in 2010 by Tammy Wynn. Wynn’s extensive career background includes holding Master’s degrees in Social Work and Health and Hospital Administration, being a pilot, a business consultant, and a counselor. After her cat preceded her father in death many years ago, she realized there was a stark difference between the support she received during and after losing a human and a pet. When she understood she was meant to invent a hospice business for animals, she realized that despite her background, the missing link was understanding the disease process of pets. At the age of 50, she went back to school part-time to become a Registered Veterinary Technician. She also spent three and a half years working as a Social Worker with the Hospice of Cincinnati before starting Angel’s Paws.
Angel’s Paws offers many services, including:
Pet Parent Peace of Mind®
This allows the client unlimited 24/7 phone and email access to Angel’s Paws (for prescriptions, advice, medication adjustments, support, and education) as well as euthanasia or hospice assisted natural death, when the time is appropriate. An initial home visit is performed by a veterinarian as well as a follow-up nursing visit by a Registered Veterinary Technician. Enrollment is for one year, but can be renewable.
“We can do a lot at the beginning [of the dying process] instead of just at the end,” says Wynn. Quality time is spent with the pets and the family. Registered Veterinary Technicians share staffing around the clock to be able to provide this service. This process allows the family precious time with their pet and the ability to have a ‘beautiful closure,‘” says Wynn.
When the time has come to let go of your pet, Angel’s Paws will come into your home to euthanize your pet. This is done in a dignified, loving manner. The Veterinarian will describe every step of the process and allow you and your family as much time as you need with your pet. When you are ready, Angel’s Paws will transport your pet to their facility to complete the cremation process.
Private cremations are provided on-site at the Angel’s Paws facility. The animals “do not ever go into a freezer,” Wynn says. Transportation can be arranged, whether the pet dies in your home or at your Veterinarian’s office. This allows your pet respect and dignity, even after death. Private cremations are done for your pet only, meaning when you receive the ashes, they will be only of your pet. Within a few business days, the client will receive a phone call to let them know that their pet’s ashes are ready to be picked up, with a very special return process.
Wynn says that many times when people pick up their pet’s ashes from the vet office, there is a build-up that occurs. People drive to the vet’s office with a sense of dread. The office is loud, sometimes full of other animals. It can be awkward to walk in to pick up your pet’s ashes and be immediately ushered out the door.
At Angel’s Paws, when clients are ready to pick up their pet’s ashes, they schedule an appointment. On the day of their appointment, they are allotted 45 minutes in the chapel room. Here they can reflect in a peaceful room where they can write a note to their pet in a book and take as much time as they need to remember their pet. There can still be that build-up, but “here we provide you a special moment where healing can begin,” says Wynn. Pet ashes are displayed in a beautiful space, along with fur clippings and paw prints, if you desire.
There is also a lego tower in the corner of the room where clients take a lego piece and write their pet’s name on it. It is later added to the tower. Since its opening in 2010, Angel’s Paws has helped over 5,000 pets. “I thought about how lonely it is for pet parents to come here or to a vet office to pick up ashes,” says Wynn. This memorial tower of love was started “to commemorate these individual pets as family members” and so that other grieving pet parents would “see the shared feelings that other people have about [their] pets” says Wynn.
Angel’s Paws services do not end once you attend the memorial service for your pet and pick up the ashes. There are many ways you can receive support after the loss of your pet:
For more advanced one-to-one support and counseling, grief counseling is offered for a fee. The first session is 90 minutes long. The first hour is allotted for the client to talk about the bond with their pet. The last half hour is so the counselor can “connect the dots of what is going on with [the client’s] grief and customize a healing plan” so that they do not have to wait for the next session, Wynn says. Usually, clients attend grief counseling for less than five sessions.
Support groups for adults
These groups are offered for free the first and third Tuesday of every month from 6 pm-7:30 pm. These groups allow for a way to connect with others who have lost pets and another way to begin healing. Usually, the groups are small, between 2-12 people.
Soul Pet: Book Club
This group meets every other Thursday from 6-8pm for a fee. The book club really “takes a deep dive into what happens after death,” says Wynn, and “books are used as the kindling to our discussion started.” Through books, clients are able to discuss their individual experiences with their pet. Sessions are four weeks long, and books are switched between a pet-focused book and a human-focused book.
Mid-Month Social Gatherings
These meetings occur on the second Tuesday of every month at 6 pm. “People need to get out and do something normal after the loss of a pet, but they’re paralyzed,” says Wynn. “They don’t want to go out with friends and family because they don’t feel like themselves,” she says. The mid-month social gatherings are important to allow people to meet others going through what they are going through, to enjoy an activity (dinner, movie, etc.) together and to re-engage with life. There is no fee for this, other than the cost of the outing or activity.
There are also events that occur on an annual basis as well, including a Pet Memorial Walk in September and the Angel’s Watch Donor Appreciation Party and Star Hanging Ceremony in April. The Donor Appreciation Party honors people who have contributed a tax-deductible donation to the company. Donors are allowed to hang a star on the wall of the chapel with a picture of their pet on it. The Pet Memorial Walk is at Sharon Woods. At this event, clients are invited to come and walk in remembrance of a beloved pet. They are also invited to bring any new pets so that the Angel’s Paws staff can meet them and so that the new pets can walk in honor of any past pets.
What about kids?
Counseling is available for children, although Wynn says only a few children have needed it in the eight years of the company’s business. Often times, issues will not come up until later in life. She says that children who have the hardest time dealing with the loss of a pet are those who are not told the truth or those who have a pet who just disappears. “This can wreak havoc for adults who do not get to say goodbye as a child,” says Wynn.
It is clear to see through the services they provide before, during and after the loss of your pet that Angel’s Paws is an incomparable business. “Every single step we take is about making this a quality memory for the human and a quality experience for the pet,” says Wynn.
To find out more about Angel’s Paws, visit their website or call 513-489-7297 (PAWS).