Here at the Richmond SPCA, we care for the homeless pets in our community in a way that fulfills our mission statement, “Every Life is Precious.” We strive daily to make sure that each and every orphaned dog or cat that enters our doors finds a permanent, loving home. For many of those pets, the path to adoption starts with rehabilitation and treatment.
More than two-thirds of the pets that come to our humane center aren’t quite ready to go home. Illness and injury require care and treatment, which is even more important for dogs and cats with chronic, life-long conditions. Some of the pets that we see have serious conditions that require costly medications and therapies to ensure quality of life. The good news is that for a majority of these animals, treatment of their conditions by our veterinary services team, combined with loving care, can restore them to health and result in successful adoptions and a full, happy life.
However, there is a small group of pets that aren’t as lucky. It’s an unfortunate but unavoidable reality that some companion animals in our care are diagnosed with diseases that cannot be treated. These cases are a painful reminder of the fragility of our four-legged friends but also of their resilient spirits.
Hope is central to our mission at the Richmond SPCA. But how do you encourage a family to take a closer look at a pet with a terminal illness, even when he or she is capable of enjoying a quality life for many months or years ahead?
This is why our Almost Heaven Hospice Program was created. For the pets in our care with an incurable medical condition, the usual adoption process isn’t the best way to provide them with the homes they deserve. Instead, this program allows these pets to be placed in a long-term foster home while members of our veterinary team continue to administer care.
Through this program, we are able to fill the animal’s remaining days with happiness, comfort and compassion. Those individuals willing to foster an animal through Almost Heaven Hospice provide a caring and stress-free home environment for a pet with a terminal illness for as long as the pet can enjoy a life of quality.
Richie is a long-term resident seeking this kind of compassionate care. Richie is a sweet, excitable 3-year-old pit bull mix who came to the Robins-Starr Humane Center in February of 2011. It wasn’t long after his arrival that he was diagnosed with pulmonic stenosis, a severe cardiac abnormality. This kind of congenital heart defect is particularly problematic considering Richie’s energetic nature. Too much strenuous exercise could end his life.
Yet while he was not given a positive long-term prognosis, our goal is make the most of the time Richie has left. He has been trained to follow a series of commands and works extensively with our in-house trainers. He has made friends and has greatly benefited from the care he has received. Richie’s affectionate and happy-go-lucky nature has also made him a favorite amongst the many volunteers and staff.
But for a dog like Richie, we want more. We want him to experience life in a home, away from the everyday stresses of a shelter. With whatever time that Richie may be given, we would like to provide him with a foster family willing to make the remaining months or years of his life the most rewarding they can possibly be. Our foster program will provide all of the supplies and training needed for his care, and our veterinary services team will continue to monitor his condition while he is in hospice care. There is no cost to you to participate in the Almost Heaven program, only the rewards of delivering hope and compassion to a animal who desperately needs you.
If you’re interested in fostering Richie as the only dog in your home, email our coordinator of foster care Tameka Peters at email@example.com.
Eric Steigleder is the community relations coordinator at the Richmond SPCA. To read the biographies of our regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.