May 29, 2020

Many students move hours away from their home and family to attend school, with many choosing to bring a cherished pet with them to ease the loneliness of starting post-secondary education. 

Sadly, not all of those pets will make it home again.

Here is what you need to know.

Whether your pet experiences severe illness or is at an advanced age, one of the most important things to consider is physical health and the well being of the animal.  In many instances, a terminal condition may not cause physical pain or distress, and the owner can rest easy knowing they have some time left with their loved one, despite the pet’s medical condition.

Then there are the unfortunate times — times when, despite the animal’s young age or the owner’s best intentions and ministrations, they have to make a difficult decision regarding the pet’s welfare.  This can be something as regrettable as not being able to afford the necessary treatments to save the pet’s life or something as difficult as having to accept the reality that nothing can be done; that the pet may have to be put to sleep.

Tara Wilkinson, a second-year practical nursing student at Conestoga College, recently dealt with her own loss of a family pet, an 11-year-old dog named Felix.

“It wasn’t about me, as much as I wanted him to hang on, it was about them. When they were no longer happy — you know, quality of life over quantity.

“We were lucky, because I never wanted to be in a position where money was a determining factor in my dog’s life, so when Felix was a puppy, we got pet insurance.  It was the determining factor in being able to go through $40,000 worth of medical treatments to treat his brain tumour.”

“When it came to that time, we called our vet in advance so they knew to expect us.” said Wilkinson, her voice raw with emotion. “They brought a stretch out and helped us get Felix inside, made him really comfortable with blankets and then they stuffed him full of as many treats as he would eat. They were really good with us; they held back as we said goodbye and hugged him and stayed close.

“When we were ready. They gave him a sedative so that he wasn’t anxious and we snuggled him while we waited for it to take effect.  Once he was asleep, they administered the final drug injection, and we just held him… It was peaceful.

“It was tough. I lost my best friend, but it was his time.”

Kingsdale Animal Hospital, located at 2848 King St. E., Kitchener, is the 2018 Diamond Award winner in The Waterloo Region Record’s annual Reader’s Awards, and has served the community for more than 40 years.

“The euthanasia itself is $141 plus tax, and then there are additional options that we offer, like a cast paw-print, or we can return the ashes in an urn on your choice,” explained Ellen Kosumovic, a vet technician at Kingsdale.

“Additionally, we understand that some pets have anxiety regarding the vet and that you would like a peaceful passing, so we do offer a house-call service for $126.  This makes sure that your pet can pass peacefully at home in comfort, surrounded by other pets and loved ones.”

“This is one of those things you have to talk over with your vet,” explained Wilkinson. “They aren’t trying to be difficult. They have your pet’s best interest at heart.”

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