Millions of animals are homeless, hungry, sick, and dying.
Many of them will die alone in the street without anyone even knowing about it. Those who are picked up are often euthanized. In fact, according to the ASPCA:
“Each year, approximately 1.5 million shelter animals are euthanized (670,000 dogs and 860,000 cats). The number of dogs and cats euthanized in U.S. shelters annually has declined from approximately 2.6 million in 2011. This decline can be partially explained by an increase in the percentage of animals adopted and an increase in the number of stray animals successfully returned to their owners.”
One nurse hated the thought of so many animals leaving the world this way, so she set up a pet hospice.
Nicola Coyle runs the Grey Muzzle Canine Hospice Project in the United Kingdom. It is a place where dogs that have six months or less to live can go to get the love and care they need. They are treated to steak dinners and fast food during their final days. Instead of being cold, scared, and unloved, they are shown compassion and cared for right up to the very end.
It’s not an easy job, but someone’s got to do it.
Coyle knew that person was her. She is making a difference in the lives of these animals, and she hopes that they feel loved up until their final days. She said:
“It can be an utterly heartbreaking job. But I just can’t bear the thought of them spending their final moments without the love they deserve.”
Each pet gets to have a great experience. For many of them, it’s the only time they were ever treated well or shown love from a human. Coyle and the volunteers strive to give the dogs time to enjoy life.
Instead of wondering where they will sleep at night or where they will get their next meal, these pets only have to worry about making the most of the time they have left.
“We’ll also take them down to the local pub – it’s really dog-friendly, and they’ll get a steak dinner too. Many have not led a very nice life too, used for breeding or guard dogs, so when they’ve become unwell, they’re not useful anymore and left.”
While most of the pets that come to the hospice are very ill and only have a few days, weeks, or months to live, some have stayed longer.
Her teenage children also help her with the dogs, and they all admit that sometimes they get attached to them. She said:
“The longest I had one is one year, the shortest was two weeks. It’s so rewarding when you can make those times special. I don’t know when their birthdays are, so we throw all of them a birthday party.”
She spends up to $500 on each dog to ensure that they each have a special day and get to enjoy life for a little while.
Most of the money comes right out of her own pocket, but she also does fundraising events to help raise money for their care. People also can donate to the project on PayPal.
Coyle feels that it is more than worth it. Although the dogs may not be able to tell her how much they appreciate what she had done for them, she knows that they know she is doing something special for them. She also knows they appreciate it. To Coyle, this is the way all dogs should live, and she only wishes she could help more of them. She said:
“They just want to feel loved and safe. I really believe they should get a nice ending.”
She is definitely doing something amazing, and her pet hospice is the first of its kind.
Hopefully, it will inspire other people to open pet hospices too or just find a way to help sick or dying pets feel loved. These pets just want what all pets want: a happy life.
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