Vet puts dogs down at home instead of office

Painful process made easier with in-home service

By Sean Lavin - Producer

KISSIMMEE, Fla. - A Central Florida vet is making the process of putting down pets less painful by performing the service in homes.

[WEB EXTRA:  Cost, more information about Lap of Love]

Dr. Kiva James, with Lap of Love, said her clients select in-home euthanasia to avoid the cold feeling of an office.

"By selecting in-home, it's a more warm feeling," James said.

The Kennell family, of Kissimmee, selected in-home euthanasia for its papillon, Danny, who was best friends with Aaron Kennel, and his sister, Tori, for 16 years.

"He was a huge part of my life," Aaron Kennell said. "He was a philosopher, because him loving people was his philosophy."

As Danny grew old, he was no longer able to run and play. Even trips to the vet became very difficult.

"Sometimes I'd have to go with my mom and carry him because he's actually having a seizure," Aaron Kennell said. "He couldn't walk and was panting heavily the whole time."

When the family realized the time had come to put Danny down, James came to the family's home and performed the end of life service once Tori was ready.

"She decided when it was time to proceed," James said. "And she got to hold Danny up to the final moments in her lap, and I just went over there -- and it was a very peaceful process. He got to say goodbye very peacefully."

James took Danny's body back to her facility for cremation.

"My sister and I just reconvened, since Danny was our childhood friend. And we just went over memories," Aaron Kennell said.

The painful process was made easier because it happened at home.

"The family can be themselves, they can grieve openly, they don't have to feel like they have to hold it in because when they walk out the exam room there may be a group of people," James said.

The family ended up buying a new papillon puppy named Cooper. And as they make new memories with him, their final memory of Danny remains a source of comfort each time they pass his ashes and picture displayed prominently in their home.

"People never forget how they say goodbye.  They never forget," James said. "If it's peacefully, they can hold that memory in a positive way."

James said the demand for Lap of Love's service is growing, in Central Florida and across the country. In just three years, 50 vets across the country signed to help people say goodbye to their pets at home.

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