By Valerie Crum
Haven Hospice Director of Volunteer Services Courtney Quirie noticed that some patients needed a different kind of doctor: a veterinarian.
“The goal of Haven is to provide comfort, care and compassion,” Quirie said. “What better way to do so than to support [a patient’s] relationship with their pet?”
Established at Haven Hospice last January, the goal of Pet Peace of Mind® is to provide patients’ pets the much-needed care they deserve because their owners are not able to do so.
The program, offered by Haven Hospice in several markets in their 18-county service area in North Central Florida, provides food, veterinary services, socialization, and exercise for all pets of Haven patients.
“Hospice care provides physical and emotional support for patients and their families,” said Quirie. “Patients’ quality of life is enhanced when they know that their pets’ needs are being met, too.”
“Often [a patient] experiences additional stress because their pet is suffering. We can help relieve that stress,” Quirie said.
Sponsored through a grant from Banfield Charitable Trust, the Pet Peace of Mind® program at Haven Hospice will continue to reach out for additional support through fundraisers and charitable events.
“Hospice works to meet both the physical and emotional needs of their patients and Banfield wanted to create a program that helps support the emotional side in a significant way,” said Dianne McGill, executive director and CEO of the Banfield Charitable Trust.
In one of the first cases addressed by the program, Quirie and her team were able to schedule and pay for a veterinarian to treat a dog tormented by a skin allergy. The day after the visit, the dog’s owner became unresponsive.
“We still followed through with the next appointment. The patient passed the same day,” Quirie said, adding that seeing the dog get well brought peace to the patient and her family before she passed away.
Linda McCollough of Haile Plantation Animal Clinic is the consulting veterinarian for Banfield. While Haven Hospice will bring patients’ pets to their family veterinarian, McCollough will review any complicated medical situations and make suggestions about how to proceed. She also is involved in a local pet rescue and will assist in helping a family re-home a patient’s pet if necessary. “I am proud to be part of the program to support Haven’s patients, families, and their pets,” McCollough said .
“As a veterinarian, I know how important pets are to families. I have seen the struggles a family faces when a loved one is facing a terminal illness and the family pet needs food, care and exercise,” said McCollough. “Pet Peace of Mind ®is a wonderful program that can ease the mind of the patient and family members.”
Volunteer and sponsorship opportunities are available in the program, which Quirie describes as still in its newborn phase. Volunteers are needed to walk dogs, chauffeur pets to appointments, and provide temporary homes.