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Veterinarian helps owners say goodbye

Posted: September 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.
Updated: September 23, 2012 2:00 a.m.

Jeanette Yamamoto, left, veterinarian and owner of Peaceful Pets, tends to dog Darcy. The cocker spaniel was accumulating fluid in the chest after receiving a cardiac pacemaker was placed. He had been in the intensive care unit but is healthy and well now.

 

A veterinarian for 10 years, Jeanette Yamamoto launched Peaceful Pets as a personalized in-home concierge service for pet owners when it’s time for them to say goodbye to their aged or terminally ill pets.

“I go to client’s houses where they’re in need of services,” Dr. Yamamoto said. “It gives clients peace of mind and helps anxiety for pets.”

One of the original owners of All Creatures Emergency Center in Newhall, Yamamoto said running a practice got to the point where she was working overnight and weekends. Once she began having children, it was tough to own a practice, she said.

Making a decision to spend more time with her family, she launched Peaceful Pets in September 2011, and returned to Animal Specialty and Emergency Center in West Los Angeles, where she originally had her internship and residency. The latter move allowed Yamamoto to reduce her workweek to only three 13-hour shifts a week and remain involved in emergency care and treatment of pets, she said.

But, after selling her practice in June 2011, Yamamoto said it was sad not to be servicing the Santa Clarita Valley as she has been a lifelong resident here. Starting Peaceful Pets allowed her to remain connected to SCV.

“It’s a service that was desperately needed because it’s not offered consistently out here,” she said. “I thought it was something that could make an impact in the valley.”

Peaceful Pets

Sometimes it’s physically difficult for pet owners to bring their pets in to a practice, she said – like large dogs that can’t walk or cats that are scared to death of traveling.

Although the service is a little higher priced than if you went to a clinic, Yamamoto’s first concern is whether it’s the right time or decision, she said. She wants to make sure euthanasia is the right decision and not a rash one. If she feels it’s not the right decision, she doesn’t hesitate to turn the job down, she said.

Yamamoto said she knows from her work in emergency and critical care center that when a doctor is in a triage situation taking care of a critically ill or injured pet — the practice can become a traumatizing, cold or sterile environment for grieving pet owners.

And when it is time to say goodbye — working with families in their homes is so much more personal, she said.

Tia

Mary Peterson’s family called on Yamamoto when Tia, their Australian shepherd was diagnosed with an inoperable, cancerous tumor so aggressive, they had only days to make a decision to put their beloved pet to sleep. The family didn’t want to wait until their beloved Tia was in pain and suffering.

“Although she was 14 years old, she was still very playful,” she said. “She walked with me 2 miles every morning until the cancerous tumor appeared. But the tumor was so aggressive that every day it looked bigger and more distorted.”

However, Peterson’s daughter had just moved out of state to go to graduate school, Peterson said. She wanted to return home because she was so upset, but the family put their daughter on Skype so she could be part of the in-home experience. It helped provide a sense of closure for her.

“This was the first time we could be there to comfort our pet,” Peterson said. “We had a sense of privacy being in our home and not out in middle of a vet’s waiting room. Now, I would never do it any other way.”

Yamamoto was so patient and soothing – really sensitive, Peterson said. The doctor gave Tia a shot of valium and then laid her down on a blanket so we could all pet her, hug her and soothe her – keeping her in calm in familiar setting. Yamamoto walked them through each step of the process and explained everything.

“It’s such a sad decision to have to make,” Peterson said. “This made it so much more comforting.”

With an in-home euthanasia service, however, pet owners can be faced with another hurdle after a very difficult process once owner says goodbye, Yamamoto said. If they need help, the doctor will handle cremation services for the family, she said.

Cremation

Yamamoto took care of all the details, Peterson said. Yamamoto took Tia away to a Sun Valley cremation service that she trusts, paid for the services and brought the pet’s ashes back to the Peterson home.

Yamamoto said she now averages six to eight euthanasia services a month and has some 70 clients. While her practice is usually solo, she does have vet techs on call for those situations when more than one person is needed.

“This is just so much more personal and more comfortable for owners,” Yamamoto said. “And I have met the nicest families all over the valley.”

More information on Peaceful Pets can be found by calling 661-621-3750 or going online at www.peacefulpetsservices.com.

jadkins@the-signal.com

661-287-5599

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