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Angel's Paws hospice care helps pet owners say a loving goodbye, even during pandemic

Posted at 7:07 PM, Jul 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-20 19:55:32-04

BLUE ASH, Ohio — Tammy Wynn goes where her work takes her. As the founder of Angel’s Paws, which provides home end-of-life care for pets and counseling for their owners, she’s gone into clients’ homes and even crawled under dining room tables to meet her furry patients where they feel most comfortable.

COVID-19 changed everything, but Wynn and her staff didn’t shut down for even a day. Donations of personal protective equipment from the Blue Ash community helped ensure they could continue guiding pets over what they call “the rainbow bridge” at the end of their lives.

“It was looking very touch-and-go there for a while,” she said Monday. “While we were allowed to stay in business and our clients needed us to stay in business, finding what we needed was not that easy.”

The donated PPE — hand sanitizer, masks and safety goggles — ensures they can safely interact with clients and pets during euthanasia, although they still work in small groups and keep six feet of social distancing. Many families have moved their goodbyes outside, where Wynn said “it’s actually made for some beautiful transitions.”

They’ve helped 475 clients since March.

Karen Martino is one of them. Her 16-year-old Shih Tzu-poodle, Bogie, was sick, and her veterinarian told her his age made successful treatment unlikely.

Martino had been with Bogie since he was 9 weeks old. She didn’t want to say goodbye to him at all, but especially not in a medical setting. She said she knew Angel’s Paws would help her send him off in a situation where he was safe and comfortable.

They did.

“He was tired, but he was home,” she said. “He was on the blanket he knew. I was holding him. It just helps you be at peace with making that horrible decision you have to make.”

Wynn said she’s happy to help, but she wishes she could do more.

“We love to hug our families, because it’s one of the rawest times as a pet parent that you are ever going through, is when you are losing that pet,” she said. “So we have not been able to hug our families, and that has wrecked our staff.”

She does offer one-on-one grief counseling sessions to the families that struggle the most, she said. And she’s satisfied with the way her staff has managed to function around COVID-19 restrictions, reducing the number of people involved in each procedure and limiting cross-contamination.

Martino said their approach made all the difference for her and Bogie.

“Such a blessing to have them come to my home, and me get to hold my fur baby and be more at peace with it,” she said. “You’re not just in this sterile environment. You’re at home. Your pet gets to be at home.”