Every pet is an individual, and every client will take their death differently. There are no real hard and fast rules as to how to handle a client’s loss, either by euthanasia or other means, but in our experience, there are some basic guidelines that can give you a knowledgeable and understanding start. These are things many of you may do as a matter of course, but remembering them when faced with a pet’s death is essential. Remember, though, flexibility is key!
- Acknowledge the client’s grief and tell them that it is perfectly normal and okay to be upset – it’s not ‘just a pet’, it’s a family member.
- Provide a comfortable, quiet space for euthanasia. Some practices have specific spaces set aside for euthanasia that may be slightly less clinical, have comfortable furniture and a separate exit so that the client doesn’t need to walk through a crowded waiting room while crying. Others have a light and sign in the waiting area, so that those next in the appointment queue know to offer respect and quiet when someone is saying goodbye.
- Explain the process clearly and answer all the client’s questions before proceeding.
- Allow plenty of time for the euthanasia process, including time before and after the euthanasia.
- Above all, be flexible with your approach. Listen to what the client wants and respond to their concerns.
- Appear rushed or organise other appointments so that the client needs to be rushed out of the room.
- Push or encourage the client into a particular decision. It may be difficult to hold your tongue if you feel particularly strongly in one direction or another, but the client must be allowed to make the decision themselves.
- Talk about ‘replacing’ the pet.
- Compare the situation to your own experience. Empathy is fantastic, but at that particular moment, the client is focussed on their own pet and grief.
We are always happy to discuss how best to manage a client after the loss of a pet, and to offer advice on what processes your team can put in place to effectively provide support. Please contact Michael for a chat.