Angel’s Paws Provides compassionate support for pets
By Matt Bayman
Photo: Tammy Wynn is a licensed social worker, hospice care specalist and vet tech. She uses these skills to help aging and dying pets through her business, Angel’s Paws.
Hospice services are typically associated with humans, but a business in Cincinnati believes that pets deserve the same compassion and end-of-life care as people do.
Angel’s Paws, located at 11341 Grooms Road, provides pet hospice, in-home euthanasia, private pet cremation, pet funeral and memorial services, pet grief counseling and pet loss support groups.
Owner Tammy Wynn – a licensed social worker, hospice care specialist and vet tech – said every client she serves, both pets and their owners, has different needs.
“Each journey is unique,” Wynn said. “That is why we offer a wide range of services, so people are able to customize what they need and want. In our hospice and home euthanasia service, our clients are typically dogs and cats. We find that our clients tend to be 50 percent dogs and 50 percent cats. People have said they are surprised we help so many cats because they are small and easy to transport into the vet. That is true, but cats typically hate car rides and they hate going to the vet, so pet parents find it much more compassionate to allow them to be in their own home.”
Wynn said she finds that the demographic of people who use her services are vast – including gender, socio-economic backgrounds and age. But the one thing they all have in common is that they love their pets like family members, she said.
When a pet is dying, Wynn said the “pet parent” typically is in a stage of grief known as anticipatory grief.
“Anticipatory grief is the hardest phase of grief because everything in front of [the pet parent] is an unknown,” she said. “They don’t know exactly how or when their pet will die, they don’t know for sure how much their pet is suffering and they don’t know when to make the decision to humanely euthanize. It is an excruciatingly painful time.”
As a result, Wynn said a person’s body undergoes stress and produces toxins. The cure, however, is natural and one that she encourages in her pet loss support groups.
“Tears are the healthiest and most natural way to get the toxins out,” she said. “This is important because they can keep themselves healthier through the process by crying and keeping their immune system cleansed. Our society discourages crying and yet it really is the healthiest and most healing thing a person can do as they are going through pet loss.”
Wynn said the process that leads clients to seek out Angel’s Paws almost always starts at a veterinary office.
“When a pet parent’s vet says there is nothing more that can be done, that is when our work begins,” she said. “We have become a destination specialty practice for palliative care and pain management. We are a multi-disciplinary team that recognizes that a terminal illness for a pet is a whole-family situation. The pet has medical needs, but the family needs intense emotional support and education about their pet’s disease. It can be a very lonely and isolating experience to reach the end stage of an illness with a pet. That’s when our clients find that we are their best friends.”
For pets pre-enrolled with Angel’s Paws, Wynn and her staff provides telephone and email support 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. Prior to a pet receiving a terminal illness, Wynn said they typically enter the geriatric years, which is another area Angel’s Paws focuses on.
“There are some important alterations that should accompany the pet transitioning into their senior years to help extend the quantity and enhance the quality of the rest of their lives,” she said. “Pets are also more prone to new debilitating issues, such as arthritis, incontinence, blindness, deafness and dementia, just to name a few.”
At Angel’s Paws, Wynn said she has launched a Senior Pet Wellness Program called AARF (American Association of Retired Furry Family members). Joining this group offers pet parents of senior pets support and educational resources to cope with their aging pet. The program is web-based and can be found at aarfgroup.com.
“We are not bound by geography with this service and the program is open to senior pet parents anywhere in the country,” she said. “This is a service that people in Dayton could easily take advantage of. We use teleconferencing services for ‘Ask a Vet Tech’ sessions and educational webinars.” Each pet enrolled receives an AARF card.
Another piece of advice Wynn offers pet parents with aging pets is to create a bucket list for themselves and their pet.
“Say what needs to be said, feed treats they never get, take family portraits and spend as much time as possible,” she said.
To learn more about Angel’s Paws, call 513.489.7297 or visit angelspaws.com.
Reach DCP freelance writer Matt Bayman at MattBayman@DaytonCityPaper.com.