Pet hospice care for animals at end of life

Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary provides hospice care to animals at end of life. She also educates people about providing in-home hospice for pets.
By David Dickson

For many animal lovers, hospice care is too hard on the heartstrings. It’s not easy to say goodbye so quickly to an animal you’ve fallen in love with. But for others, hospice is a rewarding chance to make a difference in the life of an animal who may not have felt love in a long time.

Hospice sanctuary for animals

Ulla Pedersen, a longtime Best Friends member who visited the sanctuary recently, has always been drawn to the elderly. She’s a nurse by trade and, even in her profession, she prefers working with the seniors. Whether they’re animals or people, Ulla enjoys helping those in the twilight of life. So much, in fact, that she runs a hospice sanctuary out of her home in New Mexico. Over the years, she has cared for many animals in her hospice program, including Best Friends animals.

Quality time with animals at the end of their life

Each day, volunteers come to spend time with the animals at Kindred Spirits Animal Sanctuary. The key goal at Kindred Spirits is to help animals feel loved and wanted in their final weeks or months. One of the main volunteer activities at the sanctuary is "brush and cuddle" -- spending quality time with the animals. Whether it’s brushing a horse or sitting quietly with a dog in a warm patch of afternoon sun, the whole point is to enjoy one another’s company.

Salvador the pit bull: Former bait dog from fighting ring

Kindred Spirits never takes any heroic measures to prolong an animal’s life. They only want to help the animals feel loved and comfortable until the very end. On occasion, however, that date ends up being further out than expected. Chalk it up to the power of TLC! Consider Salvador, a pit bull who came to Best Friends with Ulla on her recent visit. He was found crawling alongside the road. A vet looked him over and figured that Salvador had been a fighting dog, perhaps even a bait dog. He had so many injuries, including broken bones that had never been set, that he couldn’t even walk. He was forced to crawl around on his belly.

Salvador came to live with Ulla at Kindred Spirits, where he wasn’t expected to live long. But then something interesting happened. Once he felt safe and loved, he decided to try to get better. And he did! He can walk again and he’s now been with the rescue for nearly two years. At around 14 years old, he’s certainly no spring chick. Yet no matter how much or how little time he has left, he knows he is loved. And Salvador returns that love to everyone he meets. This guy is all heart.

Hospice care for pets at home

Ulla also works hard at educating others about hospice care in their own homes. Kindred Spirits can only take in so many animals, so she wants to help others make the most of the time they have left with their pets. When it comes to saying goodbye to a loving companion, any help is welcome indeed.

Photos by Gary Kalpakoff

Learn about visiting Best Friends Animal Sanctuary.

Caring for Pets