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Pet Memorials

The responsibility of pet ownership encompasses our devotion, love and commitment to ensure that our pets are protected and cared for in every way.  Unfortunately the time may come when a pet becomes sick and when their quality of life dictates that out of love, we must act on their behalf.  Euthanasia, is our last act of love, putting their needs above our own.   Even when it is the right decision, it is NEVER easy.

Unfortunately, we recently had to make a decision on behalf of Bobbi, one of our beloved clinic cats.  Bobbi turned 20 this past July.  His arthritis, kidney and thyroid diseases were being well managed.  When he developed cancer, he was visibly uncomfortable.  We made the decision to ensure that Bobbi left us with dignity and without suffering.  He was a great cat. 

I am often asked when is the right time, or how to know when their quality of life is compromised? Some animals experience good and bad days which makes this assessment even more challenging. Simply put, are they still doing the things that they have always enjoyed?  Rate their quality of life on a scale of 0-10 over the last few weeks.  There is no one who knows a pet better than their own loving family.

It is also important to factor in concurrent illnesses or conditions, some of which are manageable or treatable over time, and their quality of life can improve.  Options available to a pet should not be solely based on their age.  Please call us should you require advice from either of our veterinarians: Dr. Sheri Sime or Dr. Danielle Jongkind.

With our emotional involvement, it is sometimes too difficult to make a clear decision.  A wonderful resource, The Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement website, amongst other tools, has a quality of life scale to assist in making this difficult decision.

The loss of a family member can leave us overwhelmed and the need for support is both understandable and expected.  Their are a number of helpful resources for your family as they grieve, including the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement.  The pet loss support line is available through the Ontario Veterinary College at (519) 824-4120 ext. 53694 (Tues.-Thurs. 6:00-9:00 p.m.), and is manned by volunteer veterinary students under the guidance of a qualified grief councillor. The text book The Loss of a Pet, by Wallace Sife, PhD is also a helpful resource for those individuals in deep mourning for their pets. This is the resource used by some of the grief councillors.

Gorham Animal Hospital offers housecall services for the humane euthanasia of pets in the comfort and privacy of their home.  If this is an option that you wish to consider, please call the clinic at 905 895-4552.

When your family has made the difficult decision of euthanasia, allowing a pet to leave us with dignity and without suffering, several decisions need to be made. These include when, where (home or at the clinic),and which family members wishes to be present, as well as aftercare for the pet. Although difficult, our pets are very much aware of our presence.

We use the services of Gateway Pet Memorial Services for aftercare. 

Children and Pet Loss.

With children, the loss of a pet may be their first experience with death.  Be honest with them.   They should be included when a family member is ill and dying.  They need a chance both to participate in discussions about their pet as well as having a chance to say good-bye.

Talk about the need to help a pet die peacefully, rather than putting them to sleep, which they themselves can confuse with having been put down to nap.   It is OK to be sad, express their feelings and grief.  It is also important that they understand the illness, and that they have not caused the death of their pet. 

I have often included children while making paw prints, having them place their pets name on the clay.  Fond memories, and photos have been included in memory frames alongside those paw prints.  

What to expect...

The veterinarian will usually first administer an injection with anti-anxiety, sedative and pain relieving properties.  As we are upset, the pet will pick up on our emotional state and often become anxious themselves.  This injection is often the most uncomfortable part of the process. 

After waiting for an appropriate time, usually 5-10 minutes, an overdose of an anesthetic is administered via a blood vessel.  A catheter may be placed ahead of time in some patients. The pet can be placed comfortably on the floor , table, or in your arms.  Once injected, the euthansol will stop the heart and respiration, usually within 30 seconds to 2 minutes.  People are often surprised at how quickly and humanely they leave us.  It is often referred to as "putting an animal to sleep", as a peaceful process.  The pets eyes will stay open, and they may have a urine or bowel movement.  The veterinarian will examine reflexes and listen to their heart to ensure that our pet is truly gone.

We routinely make a complimentary clay pawprint for family members.  Private cremations are returned to the clinic, routinely in an urn, or cedar box within 7-10 working days.  Our staff will contact you when they return.    Ceramic urns and Cedar boxes are engraved with a pets name.  Additional lines, including dates can be requested for an additional fee. Please view the Gateway Pet Memorial website for other options.

It is our intent to expand the gardens on the clinic property and you are welcome to contribute plants or items on behalf of your pet. 

If we can be of assistance, please feel free to call us at:

Gorham Animal Hospital (905) 895-4552

On behalf of the staff at Gorham Animal Hospital, we are honoured to pay respect to our beloved animal friends who have passed.  We also welcome you to create a lasting tribute for your beloved pet or animal friend on our website's Pet Memorial page. Please feel free to complete the following Pet Memorial Form in Adobe Acrobat format, which requires the free Acrobat Reader to view.

Download and print Questionnaire

*Please note questionnaire may not be compatible with Windows 8, and is a printable-only PDF.