For many pet owners, making end of life decisions and dealing with elderly and sick pets is the most difficult part of having a pet. Animal Hospice Services of Northern Michigan (AHS) hopes to help pet owners with some of those decisions and offer options that they might not have thought of in the past. AHS offers services to pets needing hospice care due to age or medical condition as well as boarding the pets of people in human hospice care. The goal of these services is to assist families and their pet companions through their complex life transition by offering services that will enhance their quality of life.
This business is unique to the Grand Traverse Region and was recently started by owner, Janelle Jewell. Jewell has 22 years of professional experience working with a wide variety of animals as a veterinary technician, zookeeper, and animal massage practitioner. She also has a background in horse management, dog training and wildlife rehabilitation. She primarily works with dogs in her practice but is open to working with any type of animal in need of her services. While working as a zookeeper, her work included wildlife rehabilitation which added to her love of helping sick and injured animals. She had a sense of satisfaction from being a part of an animal’s recovery and working with these animals gave her an amazing sense of peace knowing that if they died, they had been well cared for, loved and had not died alone. Working as an emergency vet technician also gave her more opportunities to learn and practice her nursing skills.
Jewell understands through her own experiences with the love and loss of many animals, how difficult and confusing a time it can be with a sick or elderly pet. She feels it’s an honor to help pet parents navigate this time by offering her skills and support in whatever way that she is needed. This help comes in the form of consultations, in home visits, massage, respite care, veterinary liaison, pet transportation, aftercare arrangements and referrals. Currently, Jewell’s most requested services are massage and respite care. Most of the services provided by AHS are in the home of the pet.
Hospice consultation is a one to two-hour visit to assess the hospice needs of the pet and prepare a treatment plan with the pet owner. In-home visits cover a broad range of services based on the pets needs such as palliative care, exercise and medication administration as directed by the veterinarian. Hospice care is not a replacement for proper veterinary care and Jewell works with the pet owner and veterinarian’s recommendations for the care of the pet.
Jewell’s certified massage therapy includes pre and post-event massage, rehabilitative, strengthening support for chronic conditions, lymphatic drainage, stress relief and relaxation. One of her clients, D. Geraci, says, “I brought my rescue Collie, Winter, to Janelle for canine massage therapy. Winter was rescued after being hit by a snow plow, and had to have his rear leg amputated at about 12 years old. The last few years of his life, he had to adjust to having three legs. He was strong and dedicated to continuing to be an active canine, but I felt he still struggled both physically and emotionally with his amputation. I started taking him to get regular massages by Janelle, and his response was AMAZING! He didn’t just respond, it seemed to have a profound effect on his physical and mental presence!”
Jewell also offers pet transportation and the services of being a veterinarian liaison. Frequent visits to the vet for tests and treatment can be difficult for a pet owner and Jewell can be a comforting presence for a pet when there owner is not there. Professional referrals is another service that Jewell offers. Being part of hospice care means having a network of resources when a pet owner needs it. She has a list of professionals that she can put pet owners in touch with if a special need arises including nutrition, specialty pet supplies, in home grooming, pet memorials, cremation and family grief counseling. In addition to helping the owner while the pet is alive, Jewell also offers aftercare arrangements. After the passing of a pet, she will take care of the memorial details based on her client’s wishes.
For the owner who is in hospice care themselves and having difficulty with their health, Jewell hopes her respite care will help maintain consistency in the pet’s routine and lessen the burden of pet care for the owner and their family as they attend to the pet owner’s medical condition. This care can include the services mentioned above such as pet transportation and massage as well as referrals. Boarding for respite care is done at Jewell’s house while the pet owner is away. This service is perfect for the aging or sick pet. She limits the boarding to three pets at a time so that she can offer very personal care for the pets in her care. Although AHS does not offer an adoption service at this time, Jewell is familiar with local rescue agencies and will assist a sick pet owner by being a liaison in helping to place their healthy pet(s) in a new home so that the pet owner has peace of mind that their pet(s) will be taken care of after they are gone. With respite care, the pet(s) would stay in her home during the period of time that the owners are unavailable.
Tagged: hospice for pets