End of Life Care & Services
“We who choose to surround ourselves with lives even more temporary than our own, live within a fragile circle, easily and often breached. Unable to accept its awful gaps, we still would live no other way. We cherish memory as the only certain immortality, never fully understanding the necessary plan.” – Irving Townsend
Our pets remind us that time is limited, but love is not; losing a pet can, for many people, be as traumatic as losing a human family member. Our animal companions become family members, and we often form deep and lasting bonds with them. It’s natural to have feelings of grief, depression, anger, or guilt, and it can take time to get through them. Please remember that there is no need to feel embarrassed or ashamed by whatever you’re experiencing; it is all part of the grieving process that everyone goes through, and the experience varies for each person.
Many people have questions about what happens when you euthanize a pet. Our veterinarians and support staff will do everything we can to help ease you, your family, and your beloved pet through this difficult time. When you arrive for your appointment, one of our staff members will escort you to our Comfort Room, and will review the euthanasia authorization form with you. Your veterinarian will meet with you in the Comfort Room to confirm your wishes, and will answer any questions you may have before proceeding with euthanasia. We encourage and welcome you and your family to stay with your pet during the procedure, but if you feel unable to do so for any reason, you may leave at this time.
The actual process of euthanasia is dependent on each individual pet and their current physical condition. We will sometimes place an intravenous catheter in your pet’s leg prior to giving the euthanasia injection; catheter placement will be done by one of our veterinary technicians, on a treatment table outside the Comfort Room. We will bring your pet back to the Comfort Room after the catheter is in place. If your pet’s veterinarian determines that an IV catheter is not necessary, we will just give a single injection. The injection used is a medication specifically for euthanasia, and causes your pet to “fall asleep” relatively quickly. Shortly thereafter, the heart and breathing will stop. The entire process typically only takes a few seconds, but again, this may vary somewhat depending on the condition of the patient. The veterinarian will then use a stethoscope to confirm that the animal has passed. Afterwards, you may wish to spend a few more minutes alone with your pet. If you would like us to make a clay impression of your pet’s pawprint, we will do this after you have left the Comfort Room.
We have our own crematory on site, and can provide individual cremation of your pet. Each pet is placed with care into the crematorium; when the cremation process is complete, the ashes are collected by hand and placed in a container that is immediately labeled with your name and your pet’s name both inside and out. Taking these steps assures that the ashes you receive are only those of your own beloved pet. We will contact you by phone when your pet’s cremains are ready for you to bring home; usually this is within 10 to 14 days.
If you do not wish to have your pet cremated individually or to have the cremains returned to you, you may want to choose communal cremation. With this process, several pets are cremated together in a group.
Please call us at 402-291-1255 if you have questions about any aspect of the euthanasia process or regarding disposition of your pet’s remains.
MEMORIALIZING YOUR PET
We have a variety of cremation urns in stock that you may wish to choose from, and many more that can be ordered especially for you. You are welcome to provide your own urn if you have a special keepsake container at home, or if you wish to order one from an online source. We are also proud to offer the option of ordering beautiful cremation keepsake jewelry from Now and Forever Art Glass: Omaha area artist Kristi Pedersen encases a small portion of your pet’s ashes in fused glass, available in the form of pendants, rings, or bracelets. Samples of this fine art jewelry are available to view here at our office.
Alternatively, a ClayPaws pawprint impression is an inexpensive and beautiful way to remember your pet, as is clipping a snippet of its fur. We can do either of these for you.
PET LOSS SUPPORT
While dealing with grief is a very personal process – one that everyone handles differently – that doesn’t mean you have to go through it alone. The Nebraska Humane Society hosts a free pet loss support group on the first Saturday of every month at 10:30 a.m. This informal discussion group is led by a volunteer grief specialist with experience in counseling and an understanding of the deep human-animal bond.
You may also find the resources below helpful when making end of life decisions for your pet, and when you are in mourning. You can find support, share stories with other bereaved pet owners, find ways to memorialize your pet, and much more.
University of California-Davis Center for Companion Animal Health
College of Veterinary Medicine at Cornell University