Katie Turner

ASK ANYONE who’s ever made the decision to put a pet to sleep—it’s incredibly difficult and heartbreaking. When I was growing up, any family pets that were scratching on death’s door were taken to a veterinarian’s back room and never be seen again. Thankfully, times have changed. As an adult, I’ve had two pets euthanized—both in the comfort of our home—and they were simultaneously peaceful and powerful experiences.

When it was time for our family’s 19-year-old cat—whose liver was quickly failing—to be put to sleep, we enlisted the services of a local in-home pet euthanasia service called Compassionate Care. The owner and founder of the business, Dr. Lori Gibson, spoke to me recently to share some of her background and talk about the importance of a pet passing in a comfortable atmosphere, surrounded by family.

Seven years ago, dissatisfied with pet euthanasia procedures of the time, Gibson decided to go into the business herself. Unlike the perceived sterility of a vet’s office, Compassionate Care focuses on carrying out the procedure in the home—preferably where the pet is comfortable and surrounded by family—and even provides eco-friendly crematory services, according to the family’s wishes. They are also available 24 hours a day, seven days a week—since death doesn’t always abide by business hours.

“When a pet passes, it’s a stressful situation,” Gibson said. “At-home euthanasia enables families and other pets to be there—which is important. Surviving pets also need closure, and to see the pet after it’s passed. We may not know how animals process death, but maybe they won’t think their companion just disappeared.”

Gibson and her staff also make themselves available to answer questions, even before action needs to be taken.

“Lots of people call in advance to get information, or ask for guidance for deciding when euthanasia is necessary,” Gibson said. “Oftentimes we can advise a family when to take their pet to the vet, or provide a 'quality of life’ scale that can help them make this decision.”

The process itself, when taking place in a home setting, can be far more peaceful than transporting the pet to the veterinarian.

“After signing the consent forms, we ask the family to place the pet wherever it’s most comfortable,” said Gibson. “We start by injecting a sedative, which takes five to 10 minutes to take effect. When the animal is asleep, and the family is ready, a concentrated euthanasia solution is painlessly injected intravenously. It’s actually very peaceful when a pet passes its last breath surrounded by family.”

The entire process takes anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour—depending on the family’s wishes—and as a matter of practicality most clients prefer Compassionate Care to transfer the pet, and carry out the cremation as well.

“The most rewarding thing about this job is the feeling that we’re providing such an important service,” Gibson said. “Not a lot of people can say that. So many families are grateful to know that their pet’s final moments were as good as they could possibly be. And it can be a positive, healing experience for the family as well.”

Compassionate Care is available for pre-scheduled as well as same-day appointments. Contact them at 503-880-1172, or visit drlorigibson.com.