Helping Clients Care for Pets When They Cannot

Debra A. Vey Voda-Hamilton, Esq./Mediator, Hamilton Law & Mediation, PLLC

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THE PROBLEM

Veterinarians work with clients to keep their beloved pet(s) healthy as long as possible. Losing a pet to illness is heartbreaking for an owner; similarly, an owner’s incapacity or death can also put the pet in jeopardy. The pet may not survive if the owner has not made a care plan.

THE SOLUTIONS

1

Provide immediate care for the deceased client’s pet(s) in the veterinary facility. Holding a pet until the family can decide what to do provides a quick solution to a difficult problem; however, the practice must have policies in place that set out how long the animal can stay at the facility and the fees that will be charged.

2

Connect the client’s family with a local rescue group that will help the family plan for the pet’s care. Have practice–rescue group relationships set up for these situations. Collaborating with local groups, especially those that handle difficult-to-place pets, increases the chance of finding the animal a new home.

3

Hold an educational event in conjunction with local rescue groups, pet service providers (eg, groomers, kennels), and trust and estate attorneys. This will connect clients with collaborative referrals and problem-solving mentors.

THE IMPACT

Veterinarians are not only clinical caretakers of clients’ pets but must also provide access to services that keep those pets safe. Providing these additional benefits gives the veterinarian positive visibility in the community for his or her compassionate handling of a difficult service that is not frequently provided.

Like the complicated cases in your practice, some challenges may need a different approach or original solutions. For more ideas and direction, consider looking for an individual consultant or someone with a specific area of expertise at vetpartners.org/directory

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