The field of animal hospice is one which continues to grow, as more and more pet parents have expectations that the range of medical and end-of-life care available for humans should also be extended to their animal loved ones as well.
And why shouldn’t they? Animal companions are integral members of our families and they bring us immeasurable benefits to mind, body and spirit. For many, they are surrogate children, siblings, best friends, and partners. They love us unconditionally and demonstrate unwavering devotion through all of life’s challenges. It’s no wonder that many of us will do whatever is in our power to make their lives as comfortable and happy as they can possibly be – including at the end of their too-short lives, when their bodies begin to fail and conventional medicine can no longer offer the hope of a cure.
This is the idea behind animal hospice – to provide compassionate comfort care and support to animals and their families during the pet’s final days so they can enjoy a higher quality of life until their very last breath, and experience a more peaceful transition when their time comes. It’s a beautiful concept, and one that draws on the success of human hospice, which has helped our society begin to redefine what it means to die with dignity and grace.
In working with families who have dogs with cancer for the past several years, I have seen firsthand the benefits of hospice care for pets – and the incredible need for more awareness of and access to quality hospice services. It’s still relatively rare to find hospice services for pets, and I find that it is often misunderstood by veterinary professionals and pet parents alike. This is why I became a founding member of the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care (IAAHPC), whose mission is to help improve and expand hospice care for animals through education, professional development and awareness. There is still so much work to be done to help establish this growing field and to ensure that hospice becomes a viable service option for veterinary professionals, and a standard of care for ill and aging pets who deserve to live out their days in comfort, surrounded by their loving families, rather than be euthanized as soon as the conventional medical options run out.
To help educate more veterinary professionals, animal caregivers, pet parents and animal advocates on the benefits of hospice, options for providing hospice care and how to successfully run a hospice program, the IAAHPC is hosting its second annual conference on November 1-4, 2012 in Denver, CO. The weekend promises to be packed with invaluable information, resources and networking opportunities for people across the country who are interested in learning more about animal hospice and end-of-life care for animals. If that sounds like you, I invite you to plan on joining us for this incredible weekend.
And if you have a business or service that relates to end-of-life care for pets and want to reach this highly targeted market of engaged and motivated animal lovers, please consider becoming a sponsor of the IAAHPC Conference and being part of this educational event.
It’s an exciting time for those of us who recognize the many benefits of animal hospice – but there is still a long way to go before this option becomes a standard of care. Please join us in this journey as we work towards a better future for our companion animals – one which fully honors them throughout their ENTIRE lives – and plan to join us in Denver this November.