End-of-life compassion

Pets are so much more than just animals. While some are large and playful, others are small and cuddly, and they all are unique and capture their owners’ hearts. When the time comes to consider the end of a pet’s life, the Dumb Friends League understands the grief involved with saying goodbye, and while nothing can eliminate the heartache involved with end-of-life decisions for a pet, our team makes a difficult time easier and more comfortable for people and their pets in the Denver metro area.

The League’s Call Center receives owner-requested euthanasia calls and handles all conversations calmly and directly, being as honest as possible without any judgment. Compassionate care and support are provided throughout every step of the process, starting with the initial phone call and helping pet owners navigate such a difficult decision.

When an owner and their pet arrive, they’ll either go to the Roath Medical Center (if they have an appointment) where a Healthcare team member will meet them, or they’ll come to the Pet Admissions desk where an associate will assist them (if they do not have an appointment). During the intake process, if our team determines that the pet is not suffering, they are empowered to accept the pet as a relinquishment and not move forward with the euthanasia. We only euthanize animals when it is the right action for the pet. If it is determined to proceed with the euthanasia, once goodbyes are made, a staff member will come out and receive the pet to go back for the procedure. The staff member brings the pet to a warm and quiet room, holds the pet, makes sure the pet is comfortable and is always there attending to the pet before, during and after the procedure while a technician manages the paperwork and euthanasia details without delay.

The euthanasia procedure is carried out with kindness and respect by League staff who know these pets are a part of someone’s family, and they will be treated as if they are their own. “We know from firsthand experience with our own pets that this is something an owner will remember for the rest of their lives, so it’s very rewarding to know that we can be there for somebody in a way that really makes them feel supported and cared for,” said Sara Gleason, call center manager.

Although the League is not set up for an end-of-life journey that includes owners being present, owners can view their pet after the procedure if they wish. The League’s compassionate team is asked to provide this service multiple times per day, which can be emotionally taxing for them. While the League believes in the value of having the pet owner present during a euthanasia, support must be given to the team’s emotional health, so they can be there for the next animal that is suffering. When able, owners who wish to be present for euthanasia are encouraged to take their pet to a local veterinarian when the time comes; the fee charged is a reasonable cost for providing this level of service based on the amount of time the veterinarian spends with you and your pet.

The Dumb Friends League’s euthanasia service is specifically designed to ensure that no animal suffers because of an owner’s limited resources and is a low-cost service to the community. If an owner can otherwise afford to provide end-of-life services for their pet, the League respectfully asks them to please obtain that care from one of the excellent veterinarians in our community.

End-of-life services are offered at our Quebec Street Shelter in Denver and the Buddy Center in Castle Rock by appointment. However, if an animal is suffering, no appointment is necessary. Learn more at ddfl.org/end-of-life.