Planning for End of Life Decisions

We know that considering saying goodbye to your pet is very difficult and we want to help you honor your relationship with your pet in the most special way possible. These questions may be difficult to answer, but spending some time thinking about how you would like to say goodbye can make the process more meaningful. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions, as your relationship with your pet is unique. Making these decisions prior to your euthanasia appointment will give you time to consult with family members and friends. Having these decisions made ahead of time will also allow you to focus all of your energy on your pet during the appointment. If you need any additional information or guidance regarding these decisions prior to your appointment, please don’t hesitate to contact us, as we would be happy to help guide you.

When would you like to schedule the euthanasia procedure?

Euthanasia is often considered an urgent procedure and can typically be scheduled the same day it is decided upon, however we encourage you to monitor your pet closely to avoid having to pursue euthanasia as an emergency visit. Emergency visits can be very difficult to schedule, especially after-hours and on weekends and holidays. During these emergency visits everyone involved, including your pet, typically feels more anxious than during a non-emergency visit. We encourage you to use the quality of life scale to determine when you feel your pet’s quality of life is declining and plan ahead as much as possible. Timing is also important if you would like family members and friends to be present, as it means coordinating everyone’s schedules so that no one is left out or feels rushed. It is nice to have the opportunity to spend quality time together after the procedure to offer support to one another and remember your lost friend.

Who would like to be present for the euthanasia procedure?

While euthanasia is typically a very peaceful process, we understand that it can be very difficult for some people to be present throughout the entire procedure. We encourage each family member or friend to decide for themselves if they would like to be present. There is the opportunity to be present for any portion of the process or to leave the immediate area at any time if the process becomes too difficult to witness. Many parents ask if their children should be present during the euthanasia process. Unfortunately, this is a decision best left to parents and sometimes the children themselves. I find that most children appreciate being given the opportunity to say goodbye, even if it is extremely difficult for them. Many times a pet passing away is a child’s first experience with death or grieving. Depending on their age and maturity level, children may be better served saying goodbye to their pet prior to euthanasia and then again after the procedure. Regardless of your decision regarding your child’s presence during euthanasia, we will be happy to answer any questions your child may have about the pet’s end of life process. If we are aware that a child is close to a patient of ours, we will provide a children’s book to help you facilitate a discussion about the pet’s passing. We also have several handouts with helpful information on helping children with their grief and a list of children’s books available from the Virginia Beach Public Library system.

What type of atmosphere would you like to create?

Some families choose to have music playing in the background, have candles lit, or have their pet surrounded by favorite toys or items. Since we are in your home, you can arrange the atmosphere you think would most suit your pet.

Would you like a clay paw print and/or fur clipping memorial items?

We can make a paw print of your pet in a soft clay. The clay will then harden as it air dries and can kept as a memorial item. The print can be painted and can be used as a stepping stone, a Christmas ornament, a paperweight, or a display item. We are also able to provide a fur clipping in a keepsake bag if you would like this as an additional memorial item.

What type of aftercare would you like for your pet?

Private Cremation: Your pet is cremated privately and their ashes are returned to you (generally within one week). You may opt for one of our complimentary urns or you may purchase or make a personalized urn.
Group Cremation: With this selection, your pet is cremated with other pets and their ashes are then spread in a natural location.
Burial in cemetery: Garden of the Pines offers burial for companion animals in their pet cemetery. Burial can be arranged for ashes as well if your pet has been previously cremated.
Burial at home: Laws regarding the burial of pets at home vary among the different cities in Hampton Roads. It is your responsibility to research the laws in your community to determine if this is an option for your pet.

Would you like to hold a ceremony for your pet?

Often holding a ceremony for your deceased pet can help with the grief process. A ceremony can provide the opportunity to say goodbye to your pet, share stories of your pet with others, and allow others to share their thoughts with you.

Would you like to create a memorial for your pet?

There are various types of pet memorial items available. We will provide a clay paw and any fur clippings if so desired. You may also choose to plant a flower, bush, or tree in your pet’s favorite location, especially if you choose to bury or spread the pet’s ashes near this location. Many websites (including our website and the Hampton Roads Pet Loss Support Group’s Facebook page) allow you to post memorials for your pets online to share with others. Memorial donations can be made in your pet’s name to animal related charities. There are many websites that offer other suggestions or products that can be created to memorialize your pet.

When would you prefer to take care of payment for the appointment?

We know that finances should not be at the forefront of this decision-making process. In order to take the focus away from this at the time of your euthanasia appointment, we do offer the ability to prepay for the visit over the phone. You may also pay at the appointment with cash, check, or a major credit card. If you choose to pay during your appointment, we will typically take care of this early in the sedation phase while you sign the consent forms. If you would like a detailed estimate for your pet, including in-home euthanasia and after care, please give us a call.