Pets can provide a much needed companionship for the elderly who don’t have a lot of family or friends around them. In fact, pets have been shown to have great therapeutic effects that are being utilized more and more by hospitals, wellness centers, companies and individual people (1).
However, one major problem for an older or a terminally ill patient is that the pets often become homeless when their human owner passes away.
That’s where Pet Peace of Mind comes in (2). It’s a pet care company that specializes in working with older and terminally ill people who can’t find someone to take care of their pets.
Dianne McGill, the president of Pet Peace of Mind recently talked about their mission (3):
“I know of countless patients who have said that their pet is their lifeline. Pets are great medicine for coping with the anxiety the comes from dealing with a serious medical condition. For many patients, keeping their pets near them during the end of life journey and finding homes for their beloved pets after they pass is one of the most important pieces of unfinished business.”
What’s more, the pet care company also makes sure that people’s pets are always close by for visitations. On their Facebook page (4) they’ve said that:
“The Pet Peace of Mind program provides nonprofit hospices with a turnkey approach to help them train volunteers to help patients with their pet care needs, provides seed funding to get the program off the ground, and offers advice and assistance for the life of the program. People have come to bond with their pets in much the same way they bond with people,”
The organization is largely maintained via donations and volunteers who help to not only take care of the animals but make sure that they live healthy and happy lives. The volunteers take the pets for walks, play fetch with them, keep them groomed, and most importantly – do their best to re-home the pets after their owners have passed away.
Pet Peace of Mind’s official position is that “Pets are treated and loved like family members and they comfort their owners much like a close friend or relative. It is no wonder then that during the end-of-life journey, pets can play a critical role. Unfortunately, as families deal with grief and loss during hospice care, pets may be overlooked, forgotten, or even ignored by family members unfamiliar with the patient’s bond with a pet.”
Fortunately, the initiative is quickly gathering pace and more and more volunteers are joining in their efforts. Karen Jefferies, a volunteer coordinator for St. Luke’s Hospice (5) told U.S. News and World Report (6) that “We had all seen things happen where the patient was in their ending days, and they were so concerned about what was going to happen to their pet, and the family would say, ‘It’s OK, we’ll take care of it,’ and then the patient would die and the dog was off to the pound,”
That’s precisely what Pet Peace of Mind has helped with by providing not only the pets with the care they need but also the owners with the relief that their dear friends will be well taken care of.
Jeffries also shared another story of an elderly gentleman. “The social worker said, ‘Oh, Karen, you’re going to have to rehome all five of these.’ The man is in 80s, can barely take care of himself let alone the dogs. On his deathbed, he signs his dogs over to me.”
“I said, ‘I promise I’ll give them all a good home.’ It took a while, but eventually, each of the dogs went to a new family. That was a real labor of love. He wouldn’t have rested peacefully if he didn’t know those dogs had gone somewhere.”
If you like what Pet Peace of Mind does and want to support them you can do that in a myriad of ways – by donating, volunteering or even just by sharing their story to more people.