Q&A with Dr. Mel

Should my other pets be present during the appointment?


Generally I like to say, " Keep an open door policy". As long as your other pet is not going to stress you or your pet during the visit, then let them be in the room if they wish. Often our pets are used to being together, thus when they are suddenly separated it may lead to further anxiety. Most pets may be initially excited or interested in our presence but will soon settle down as they do with any guest that comes in your home. If your pet is one that gets very anxious or protective of new people coming into the house , then I suggest they should not be present. In general when our pets are able to be present in some capacity, even if not in the same room, they are able to understand the difference of their housemate having passed away vs. being geographically missing. 

Can my pet be euthanized somewhere besides my home?


Of course, "home" is a place that is most comfortable to you and your pet. I will be honored to help your pet pass in his/her favorite spot.  Whether it is their favorite sun spot in the yard, under their favorite tree, laying in bed cuddled up to you, or their favorite trail at the park, we want you and your fur kid to be where you are most comfortable.

How long will the appointment last and what is the process?


On average, appointments are about 45 minutes to an hour.  We take our time with each family, each family and each patient are never the same.  Each client we assist, has their own unique circumstance.  

The first medication is given by  injection, much like we would give a vaccine.  This injection is a combination of pain medication and sedation medicine. Most of my patients become calm and relaxed, and fall into a comfortable sleep within just a few minutes.  Once the first medication is administered, and your fur kid is in a peaceful rest, I will make a paw print or nose print impression out of clay.  I will also do a fur clipping if requested.  

When your family is ready, the final injection will be administered.  Most patients pace peacefully within just a few moments.  Once I have confirmed your pet is at peace I usually will excuse myself to give you privacy as a family.


If aftercare is elected, I will bring in a stretcher or a small basket with plenty of plush blankets so that we may bundle up your pet for the trip to the funeral home.

Does the euthanasia drug stop the heart?


The euthanasia medication is a type of anesthesia that works on the brain, so that our pets will pass mentally first before there are any changes to breathing or heart rate. Once our pets have passed mentally, the rest of their body stops receiving "signals" from the brain and will thus slow down and pass.

Do I need to decide what type of aftercare I would like for my pet before the appointment?


We can discuss the options in person and there is no need to decide in advance of the appointment. The only planning we need to consider is if your pet is over 50 lbs that someone is able to help us with the stretcher if aftercare is selected.

How far in advance do I need to schedule an appointment?


We strive to be available seven days a week. We understand our patients may take a sudden overnight turn for the worse and thus we can usually accommodate same day appointments. Unfortunately evening appointments often get booked in advance for families that are preplanning, thus if a particular day or time is needed we highly recommend scheduling an appointment 48 hours in advance.

How will I know when it's time?


This is a very difficult question and there are no easy answers. Please see our quality of life section for a more thorough explanation and resources. Every pet is different and not every pet will display every symptoms.

No longer interested or have become increasingly finicky with food and water, incontinence (accidents in the house) or unable to go to the bathroom or hold posture without falling over, no longer greeting you when you come home or alternatively no longer reacting to stimulus like mail truck or squirrels., lack of grooming, change in posture, no longer wags his/her tail, tail is tucked, restlessness,  pacing, changes in sleep patterns, hiding or sleeping in unusual spots, isolates themselves from the people or other pets in the home, decreased interest in playing or interaction with family, 

difficulty or inability to stand or walk on their own, change in attitude or behavior, new aggression, depression or dullness, confusion, dementia signs are several things to look for when deciding when the time is appropriate.

Is putting my dog or cat down preferred over letting them pass naturally?


Mother Nature often is not swift or kind and most pets will not pass peacefully and quickly from  their disease or diagnosis, but may instead linger for several days or even weeks. Many chronic and common diseases like arthritis and kidney failure can lead to a long and painful end of life process. With euthanasia the aim always is to help our pets pass peacefully and avoid prolonged struggle.

Why are your costs higher than my regular vet?


Angel Pets - in home hospice and euthanasia is a different kind of practice. We commit several hours to each patient  from preparation before the appointment, driving, the actual appointment and then transport and facilitation with the crematory. We thus spend an average of 3-4 hours  per patient. We are feel privileged and honored to help pets and their families and this will always be our passion. In an ideal setting ( if we won the lottery, or some celebrity sponsored all our expenses) we would want all families to have access to in home care regardless of their financial situation.

Should children be present?


Ultimately, you know your child best, and every child is different. I do believe children should always have the opportunity to say goodbye instead of coming home to an empty house.

I tend to recommend that if children want to be present we make sure they know it is completely ok to ask as many questions or leave the room if they feel uncomfortable at any point. I try to involve kids, if they are willing , with the making of the paw print impression as this often is a source of comfort for all of us. If children elect not to be present, I make sure to reinforce their decision as being completely OK.

In the end I believe honesty is always best but that no matter what anyone says, you know your child best.

Are there any set-up requirements that I need to do prior to the appointment?


" What are the steps needed to do before putting my dog or cat down ? "

Nothing is needed, I want you to focus on spending time spoiling and  loving your pet. Sometimes I will suggest a bucket list or preparation of his/her favorite foods, perhaps you may want to visit the beach or arrange for friends or family to be present. I will bring everything that is needed with me. Just focus on being his/her pet guardian.

How soon will I get my pet's urn back?


Most urns are returned to your regular vet or available to pick up in 2-3 business days or less.

Will my pet lose his/her bowels during the appointment?


It is not uncommon for our furkids to leak urine or for their rectal sphincter to relax enough to pass gas or a bowel movement if present. However this usually will occur when your furkid is in a deep sleep or once he/she passes and thus will not be aware. In addition I always will bring a pee pad/ diaper pad to place under your furkid once he/she is falling asleep. 

Can I have more than one paw print ?


OF COURSE! I love making paw prints and always try to bring plenty clay. There is never a charge for the clay I bring. In the event you would like a paw print from the funeral home - there is a 15$ fee .

How will I know I am receiving my pet’s ashes back and not someone else’s pet?


This is one of my biggest concerns too, and thus when selecting a funeral home I went with  the one I trusted for my own furkids. 

After an extensive interview and evaluation of their practices, I feel more than comfortable using Pet Cremation Services of Tidewater for my patients and even my own furkid whom I lost recently. They  treat your pet with the same respect as we do. There are strict identification procedures in place to ensure that your pet’s ashes are theirs alone. You will receive a certificate of cremation stating this fact and the day your pet was cremated. I welcome you to visit the pet funeral home in person. All the staff are warm and knowledgable and they have a beautiful collection of keepsakes and urns if you want something different or unique.

Do you have an additional question?

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Angel Pets - Hampton Roads