According to a survey conducted by the Oxford-Lafayette Humane Society, the number of cats and dogs born every day in the U.S. are estimated at 70,000 (nearly 3,000 born every hour or 50 born every minute). That’s a lot of pets that will one day get old or sick and require care.
Caring for an older or ailing pet can be very difficult. Constant trips to the veterinarian and administering medication can be as stressful as providing care to a human family member. Since most pet owners consider their pet, family (and some even favor their pets over their human family members) this should come as no surprise to anyone.
It’s usually when their pet is experiencing the pains associated with old age that pet owners usually reach out to Dr. Brad Bates.
Bates, a graduate of Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary College, is the local representative of Lap of Love, a veterinary hospice, started by South Florida veterinarians Dani McVety, DVM and Mary Gardner, DVM in 2009.
Bates, the owner of three cats and one Chinchilla, has always had a special bond with animals and after graduating from veterinary school worked in a private vet clinic for years as well as in emergency care before he decided to become a part of Lap of Love.
According to Bates, he provides services for all stages of death, “Through my work at Lap of Love, we not only provide home euthanasia services but we teach people how to provide care and comfort for their animals during this difficult time. We teach pet owners how to administer medication and tell them what to expect and basically help them come to terms with what is happening.”
Although most patients come to him at the end of their lives Bates encourages pet parents to seek out hospice care before their pet is suffering. Hospice care is more than just helping an animal to die, it is about making the time they have left more enjoyable, pain free and reducing the stress of the situation for both the animal and the human family.
The percentage of cats and dogs six years of age or older jumped between 1987 and 2001, according to U.S. Pet Ownership & Demographics sourcebooks. As any pet parent can tell you, a pet’s life expectancy is much longer today than in the past. We can attribute the longer life expectancy to advances made by science and the willingness of pet parents to do, and pay for, whatever is necessary to keep their pets around for as long as they can.
Most of the patients Bates sees are older; tend to be plagued with arthritis and hard to get back and forth to a veterinarian’s office. Others are also just nervous about going to a vet and being able to receive treatment in their home makes the whole experience easier for everyone.
Patients are often referred to Bates by their veterinarian when the time comes for euthanasia but a referral from your veterinarian is not necessary. Bates said he works with vets as well as offers a second opinion but all from the comfort of your home, often in your pet’s favorite spot. This saves the pet and its family the stress that many animals experience when they visit their veterinarian’s office.