LAWTON, OK (KSWO)- Comanche County Memorial Hospitals Home Health and Hospice program has teamed up with Pet Peace of Mind to assist patients and families with the care of their beloved pets at a time when they are least able to provide for them.
Our pets become family to us, and they comfort their owners much like a close friend or relative. So, it's no wonder that during one of the most important and challenging life stages — the end-of-life journey -- the pets can play a critical role.
"This pet is more than just a pet. This is more like a family member. They are somebody who has been around for a while." Cheryl Wyczynski is a nurse for Hospice and says this program is only allowing them to enhance the quality of care they provide.
"When we're thinking about the total care of our patients and trying to increase their comfort and increase their quality of life towards the end of life, then this is something that we need to be factoring in...is their pets and their relationships with their pets," said Wyczynski.
"The main goal is to give peace of mind to the pet owner, that their pet is going to be taken care of even after maybe perhaps the pet owner has passed away." Doctor Larry Chambers is a local veterinarian and has volunteered to be a professional consultant for the program. Dr. Chambers says veterinarians get into the profession because they care for animals, and this is just another way he is able to do that.
"If there is a problem with the pet, whether it's physical, or if it is some type of financial problem, or there is some type of care that needs to be made with this pet, I'll probably work with whoever the pet's veterinarian is to make sure that one, that the quality of care can meet the financial demands or capabilities of the pet owner. And is this something that is necessary," explained Chambers.
Wyczynski says patients often don't want to "let go," until they know everything is in order.
"They want to make sure that as they are ending their life, or coming to the end of their life, that that family member is not going to be for instance taken to a pound, or put up for adoption somewhere, or perhaps even destroyed," said Wyczynski.
Kristy McLaughlin is a nurse assistant for Hospice and agreed to adopt a patient's dog after she had passed away. Now, Daisy is part of her family.
"She needed a good home and we had one...She did really well. She came in and we have other animals, and she just kind of let them sniff her and she's actually our best dog we have. So, she was already trained and she was already people friendly, so it worked out really well," explained McLaughlin.
Wyczynski says the program will be possible through the help of trained volunteers, grants and fundraising. She says they will be able to provide in-home pet care, pet food and cat litter, temporary pet boarding, and assist in finding permanent homes, among other services.