Hospice volunteers focus on the patient and the entire family – including the pets.
Barbara Cady remembers the first hospice patient Pet Peace of Mind helped. A single, elderly woman, with no network of family or friends, was nearing the end of her life and she was worried about her cat.
“Her primary concern was, ‘what would happen to her cat?’” Volunteer Specialist and Pet Peace of Mind coordinator for Florida Hospital HospiceCare, Cady said.
Volunteers brought a photo of the cat for the woman to have by her bedside and found a suitable home for the loved feline.
“She died peacefully the next day,” Cady said. “I like to think we played a major part in giving her a peaceful death.”
Pet Peace of Mind is a national organization based out of Oregon that helps hospice and palliative care patients, care for their pets. The Florida HospiceCare team is one of 11 Pet Peace of Mind groups in Florida, and the only one in the Volusia and Flagler county.
Initially, Cady saw services being focused on helping hospice patients keep their animals at home with basic services.
“We do an assessment of people’s pet needs,” Cady said. “We have dog walkers, provide transportation to the vet, pick up pet supplies and help with pet food. Our goal is to keep the pet in the home.”
The first choice is to re-home the pet with a family member or friend. When that is not possible the group starts looking for a home. Knowing that the pet has also been stressed, Cady said the homes are carefully selected.
Dr. Kelly Long and his staff at Tomoka Pines Veterinary Hospital are an integral part of the program, offering veterinary assistance, and when there is need – temporary boarding. Long, a member of the Pets Peace of Mind board of directors said working with the pet’s vets is what they hope to do and in the process get more veterinarians involved.
“Part of our mission is also to educate people, and encourage them to have a plan for their pets, not only those in HospiceCare, but as a community as a whole,” Cady said.
Peace of Mind appreciates donations but, due to lack of storage and the importance of keeping animals on their existing diet and medicines, the group does not usually accept physical items, such as pet food, at this time. Monetary donations can be online at http://PPOM-Hospice.com or by calling Cady at 671-4761.
Those interested in becoming volunteers with Florida Hospital HospiceCare to walk dogs, feed pets or other services, do go through a background check, a medical clearance and attend the HospiceCare volunteer training certification program. The next certification program will be in September.