Council on Aging, veterinarian help senior with pet dilemma
Posted: 11/14/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Angelle Barbazon
An Elkhart County woman, whose name has been withheld for privacy reasons, discovered last week that something was wrong with her dog, Kelly. The black and white Australian shepherd mix was in the woman’s backyard one evening and had trouble standing up. Because of the woman’s condition, she had difficulty understanding that her dog was in pain.
“It’s not something I ever thought I would have to deal with going into social work, dealing with people and their animals, but then again, it was easy to see that this dog was like one of her children,” said Antonette Reese, life enrichment director for the Council on Aging.
Reese consoled the woman as she began making calls to area veterinarians. Some of the vet offices were already closed, and others said their licenses did not allow them to practice outside of their clinics. Council on Aging executive director Tammy Friesen also got on the phone and finally got in touch with Dr. Bethany Couture of the Millersburg Animal Clinic.
Couture, an associate veterinarian, usually cares for animals at her clinic in Millersburg and treats large animals at nearby farms, but, she said, this case was special. She traveled to the woman’s house with an assistant. Together, they examined Kelly and carried her into the house. The dog was overweight but did not have any serious injuries apart from severe arthritis.
Reese and Couture explained to the woman that her dog was in poor health, choosing their words carefully as not to confuse her.
“I talked to her a lot about the quality of life for the dog, which I don’t know how much of that really sunk in or made sense to her at the time,” Reese said.
Couture said they only had two options — to provide pain medications to control Kelly’s arthritis or to euthanize the dog because of her weak condition. The woman was not ready to say goodbye to her companion, Couture explained.
In-home staff members from the Council on Aging check on the woman twice a day, and Reese sees her at least once a week. Reese, who visited the woman on Tuesday, said Kelly is not in as much pain as she was a week ago. Reese said she is thankful that Couture could help the woman and her pet.
“This poor lady was desperate to get help for her dog,” Couture said. “She didn’t care what it cost. She just wanted someone to come out and help, so we were very glad that we did it.”
If you know a senior with pets
• Stay in contact with them and check how their pets are doing
• Help keep their shelves stocked with pet food
• Keep a list of emergency phone numbers, including a veterinarian and animal clinics open after hours