Pet Peace of Mind program provides care for fur friends

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Hospice Care of the Lowcountry has a program called Pet Peace of Mind, which recognizes and actively supports the unique bond between hospice patients and their pets.

The program, launched in 2012, aligns with Hospice Care of the Lowcountry's mission to give comfort and honor dignity for end-of-life patients and their families through compassionate physical, emotional and spiritual care, regardless of financial circumstances.

Pet Peace of Mind allows patients to complete their end-of-life journey without worrying about their pet's current or future needs. When families and patients are under severe emotional stress, sometimes caring for the family pet can take a back seat to other pressing needs.

While these pets provide such an important part in stress reduction and emotional therapy in the last months and days, caring for them adequately can be difficult.

The Pet Peace of Mind initiative provides volunteer pet care services for patients who are unable to care for their pets while on hospice. Services include assistance with pet food, financial assistance with routine veterinary care, transporting the pet to veterinary and grooming appointments, pet boarding and walking.

Volunteers arrange through hospice to visit patients in their home and walk their dogs, brush and spend time with their dogs and cats, go to the store to get pet supplies including food, and even taking the pet to a groomer or veterinarian.

The organization can also assist in re-homing a pet should it become necessary. To become a volunteer, one needs only to be people-, dog- or cat-friendly, not necessarily owning a pet yourself. A desire to give back to the community in this most satisfying way is all it takes.

Offering the Pet Peace of Mind program places Hospice Care of the Lowcountry in a select group of other hospice providers that have joined a national network of nonprofit hospice providers committed to ensuring this important patient need is met.

"They work hard to meet both the physical and emotional needs of our patients, and Pet Peace of Mind helps support the emotional side in a significant way," said Jenny Brasington, executive director of Hospice Care of the Lowcountry. "The human-pet bond is incredibly special. If we can help keep a patient and their pet together, we've accomplished what we set out to do. We know that the unconditional love and acceptance provided by pets is priceless medicine."

You can help support this effort by becoming a Pet Peace of Mind volunteer or making a donation to the program. For more information, call 843-706-2296 or, to make a donation online, visit www.hospicecarelc.org.

Abby Bird is owner of Alpha Dog Obedience Training. ajbird@hargray.com

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