When Hotshot, a 12-year-old Labrador, became seriously ill in 2007, his owners realized they had a dilemma to face: Was it time?
“When he stopped eating, we decided he had had enough,” Robin Walker said.
But instead of putting Hotshot down at a clinic, Walker and her husband, Douglas, chose another way.
When the day came, Hotshot excitedly greeted their guest, Dr. Linda Randall, like it was any other day.
Randall, a veterinarian from Cloverleaf Animal Hospital in Westfield Township, came inside their home and set up a comfortable environment — blankets and soothing music. She gave Hotshot a sedative. Once it set in, she injected him with an anesthesia.
Within 90 seconds, Hotshot had fallen asleep for the last time.
Walker said the decision was tough to make, but she couldn’t see it happening any other way.
“I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again,” Walker said. “It was good for us, and it was good for the dog.”
Randall said Walker isn’t the only one who approves.
Although euthanizing pets is commonplace, Randall said opting to have it done at home is a growing trend.
“In the past couple years, we’ve seen in-home pet euthanasia upswing 50 percent,” Randall said.
Randall said her clinic, at 7777 Greenwich Road, euthanizes 100 to 150 pets per year, and a quarter of them are done at home.
While she always has offered home euthanasia, she believed it was becoming more common because pets are seen more and more as members of the family.
And just like end-of-life discussions about human family members, pets are subject to similar talks and practices, she said.
Home euthanasia can be calming for the animal because it avoids the anxiety of a trip to a foreign environment, Randall said.
“It’s very painless and very peaceful,” she said. “We wish more people would do it at home.”
Randal practices what she preaches: Her own pets were euthanized at home.
She said there are a couple downsides to the procedure.
Some families might not want to have a pet euthanized where they live, she said, much like some people don’t want to live in the home where a loved one died.
The cost also may deter some families.
Euthanizing a pet at the clinic usually costs between $50 and $150, she said, depending on the animal’s size.
“It’s about twice as expensive to euthanize at home,” she said. “We shut down shop while I’m out on call, and it takes longer than an in-house appointment.”
On average, the clinic euthanizes two animals per week.
She said it’s a tough job because she often gets to know the pets and the owners.
“It takes its toll,” Randall said. “It’s hard, but I have to separate myself a little bit. If I thought of every animal like my own, I’d be depressed all the time.”
To contact Randall at Cloverleaf Animal Hospital, call (330) 948-2002.
Contact reporter Nick Glunt at (330) 721-4048 or firstname.lastname@example.org.