RIVERVIEW (FOX 13) - Pets are part of our family. Saying goodbye to them is one of the toughest decisions we ever have to make.
It was an experience working in an overnight emergency clinic that made veterinarian Dani McVety realize there had to be a better way to end the lives of the pets that mean so much to us.
"That's what I do," she explained. "They go to sleep and they don't wake back up, and they're in your home and you know that they're with you. It's a way of letting go in the most peaceful way."
Dr. McVety's started Lap of Love In-Home Hospice and Euthanasia six years ago. Demand grew, and so did her company: Lap of Love is now in 25 states and counting.
"Within probably a year and a half, I realized this was bigger than Tampa, St. Pete," she continued. "Now we have over 60 doctors around the country, working with us and we're in the process of bringing it to Canada . I see Lap of Love worldwide, eventually."
It was through Dr. McVety that we met Joe and Jackie Edwards of Riverview. This brave couple allowed us to be there as they parted with their beloved dog, Tia.
The Edwards got her as a tiny puppy, before marriage and children.
"She's like a little baby to me," Jackie said. "She's part of the family."
Now Tia is 13½. Her body is failing. She has seizures, sometimes collapses and can't get up. Like so many of us confronted with this, Jackie says it was a hard decision to make.
"We didn't want to let her go. You don't want to let go of your kids when they get older, it's the same with a dog. That's family."
Tia is surrounded by the people who love her as Dr. McVety explains the procedure. "I'm going to give her two injections. The first one will be back here in the muscle. It's a heavy sedative mixed with a pain reliever. Just takes a couple minutes. She's going to become very calm and relaxed."
Joe cradles Tia's head as Dr. McVety gives the second injection, an overdose of anesthesia.
"It effects the brain first, so the brain goes to sleep. Then the respiration stops and the heart stops, usually about 30 to 60 seconds or so at most," Dr. McVety continues.
As Tia takes her last breath, she seems to smile.
"The sides of her mouth went back literally just as I was giving the injection," Dr. McVety observed. "She smiled the whole way through -- and Jackie saw it."
That was a bit of comfort for the mom who raised her from a pup.
"She seemed happy...she wouldn't stop smiling. She kept smiling...I'm just glad she's no longer in pain."
The couple said they're grateful for Dr. McVety and the service she provides, allowing them to be with the dog they consider family to be at home at the end.
"It was the way it should be," Dr. McVety added. "She was curled up on Dad's lap, which why 'Lap of Love,' why I chose that name. We should all be that lucky, to have that peaceful of a passing."
LINK: More info at http://lapoflove.com/