Monday, September 26, 2011

At-home Euthanasia Growing in Popularity

Via Washington Post - Jim Schenning knew he was going to lose it, and he didn’t want to lose it in public. 

So when the dreaded day came to end the suffering of his beloved Emma, an arthritis-stricken, 15-year-old Jack Russell terrier, Schenning didn’t go to his veterinarian’s office. Instead, he ended up cross-legged on the floor of his spare bedroom, crying quietly as Emma looked up from his lap.

After a few minutes, he nodded to Julie Rabinowitz, a veterinarian he had never met before she arrived at his house a half-hour earlier. She leaned forward with a syringe. A little dog’s fatal dose of pentobarbital.

“There was no whimper. Her eyes just slowly closed,” Schenning recalled. “Dr. Julie waited two or three minutes and checked her heartbeat. She said in a quiet voice, ‘Jim, she’s gone. I’m going to let myself out now.’ ”

The gentle death scene that recently unfolded at Schenning’s house near Catonsville, Md., was part of a growing at-home pet euthanasia movement that is beginning to relocate one of pet ownership’s most painful rituals, the final, one-way trip to the vet’s office.

Like a growing number of vets in the region, Rabinowitz, who is based in Baltimore, decided a few years ago to build her practice on end-of-life house calls for those who want more for their pets’ last moments than a frightened scrabble on a cold steel exam table.

“Going to the vet was always stressful,” Schenning said. “I didn’t want her last day on this Earth to be, ‘Oh, no, we’re going into that white building.’ ”

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Written by Steven Hendrix
Image via MorgueFile


  1. It certainly is far nicer to be able to say your goodbyes at home in a familiar place. When it came time for our cat Theo to go we asked the vet to come to the house, which he did. He and a nurse.. we sat in the garden in the sunshine and said our goodbyes. xTheDogsMumx

  2. It just makes such good sense too. It's so hard to lose a beloved pet anyway, and it's nice to not have to put them through one more final trip to the vet's office. I'll have to talk to Mario's vet to see if they have started doing that yet.

  3. FaRADaY: ut-oh, Mommy's crying again... but in a good way.

  4. Much as I don't want to even think about it, it is nice if that option is available. Though I guess it is a good idea to have arrangements in mind, just in case. /sigh

  5. I hope the next time I have to go through it, I have that option. I've had to walk out of a crowded vet's office sobbing twice in my life and I don't want to do it again. Plus, I don't want to put any other pet throught that last ride to the V-E-T.

  6. Almost from the time I got out of high school (ok, that was 1971)I have worked for veterinarians and I know that also for even me, the in-home euthanasias I have had for my own cats have been so much less stressful on me mostly but also a big comfort to have them not have to make that last car ride and feel safe and content on my bed at home when the time came.