Name of business: Lap of Love
Type of business: Veterinary hospice and in-home euthanasia
Hours: 4 a.m. to 8 p.m. Monday through Sunday
Contact information: 209-645-5105; email@example.com
Specialty: Services provided in the comfort of your home
History of business:
Caring for a pet in its end stages of life can be a difficult experience, but a Valley veterinarian is helping make final farewells easier on the soul by providing in-home services through Lap of Love.
Lap of Love is a network of veterinarians around the country whose goal is to empower every owner to care for their geriatric pets. Their philosophy centers around the human-animal bond, and the need for that bond to be as undisturbed as possible during life’s toughest moments. Dr. Michelle Latham joined this group of compassionate vets after working in a regular office for six years, offering hospice for pets and in-home euthanasia services throughout Turlock and beyond.
“The biggest benefit to Lap of Love is just being in the home where the pets are their most comfortable,” Latham said. “Sometimes this is the most difficult day of owning a pet, so being able to grieve in the privacy of your own home with your family there can help…in hospitals there are inevitably phones ringing or other appointments coming in. With Lap of Love, the distraction of an office isn’t there. You’re surrounded by your favorite place and it’s your pet’s favorite place.”
Latham’s hospice services are available for families who have received a diagnosis of a terminal illness from their family vet, those who may be managing advanced age in their pet or families who simply need to buy more time so that the pet’s loved ones can say goodbye. Latham provides an initial assessment where she offers pain medications and instructions on how to use them along with a specific symptom management plan to give owners peace of mind.
Her hospice care revolves around a client-patient-doctor relationship, and Latham routinely checks in with those in her care. There are countless other steps she can take to ensure a pet is comfortable at home, including but not limited to, education about the end-stage disease process, subcutaneous fluids, supplementary nutrition, bandage and wound care, management of incontinence and even oxygen therapy when appropriate and available.
The services ensure pets are comfortable in their final days, rather than being transported to and from the vet.
“Even just the stress of the car ride can oftentimes be a lot for an animal,” she said. “Having the pet in their home where they are most comfortable and surrounded by things they know and people they love, especially for euthanasia, it provides a nice peaceful passing.”
The word euthanasia translates to “good death,” and Latham provides the technical, medical and soft skills that help make this term true. At-home euthanasia includes a discussion about any thoughts or concerns surrounding euthanasia, mild sedation to help pets remain calm and comfortable during their final moments, the euthanasia itself and a variety of memorial keepsakes to choose from, such as a clay paw print or lock of fur, among other services.
“One of the most important things in veterinary medicine in general is the human-animal bond, and being in a more intimate home environment has made me realize that even more,” Latham said. “I feel very fortunate that people trust me with their pets’ end of life care; it’s the most important time when we have to say goodbye to them. Even if it is difficult, if I can make it a little bit better then I feel like I’ve done a good job.”
Latham and Lap of Love provide services to all pets, from hamsters and birds to cats and dogs. Same-day appointments are available, as are weekend visits. For those curious about Lap of Love, their website offers a wealth of information on not only their services, but different age-related diseases and quality of life scales.
“End of life care is not widely available in the veterinary profession at this time in the sense of going into the home, and Lap of Love has a beautiful mission,” Latham said. “It’s very rewarding to me to make the end of life as peaceful and as loving and as caring as possible.”