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Saying goodbye to your pet at home

Dr. Robin Holmes starts off a typical day as a veterinarian with several phone consultations. During each call, she discusses the patient’s history, health status, and quality of life. Holmes then makes one to five house calls. While many veterinarians focus on an animal’s life, Holmes’s main concern is how to make the animal’s death comfortable and peaceful.

Dr. Robin Holmes | Photo by Nicola Borland Photography

Holmes offers in-home pet euthanasia, a procedure that allows an animal to die in his or her home. The Pasadena veterinarian also provides resources, support, and even online candle lighting memorials as part of her services. Holmes opened in 2010 her fulltime San Gabriel Valley practice, Gifts of Peace, and since then has received an increasing number of requests for in-home pet euthanasia each year, totaling more than 1,000.

“Home-based euthanasia is a peaceful, comfortable, and relaxed process that has been rising in popularity in Los Angeles County,” Holmes said. “I believe that if more families knew about it they would choose in-home pet euthanasia, but making that choice is always a very personal decision.”

After graduating from North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine in 1991, Holmes spent most of her time as a clinical veterinarian supporting clients as their pets grew sicker, even traveling to clients' homes on those final days. She dedicated herself to in-home pet euthanasia fulltime to help struggling families who were watching their pets die.

Holmes (left) with Nellie the cat.

“I have watched owners in the clinic make that long, lonely walk from the hospital to the car with an empty leash,” Holmes said. “In-home pet euthanasia is not only for the pet that is shy or arthritic, or the cat who hates to travel in the case. It is for all pets and owners that want to be in their own home or beds with their family next to them.”

In-home pet euthanasia can be offered by any licensed veterinarian, and many veterinary hospitals in the San Gabriel and San Fernando valleys refer their clients to Holmes and other in-home pet euthanasia practitioners. “When it comes to euthanasia and for a client to say goodbye to their loved family member, to a regular brick and mortar veterinary hospital like ours, it does not matter where the actual procedure take place," said Dr. Stan Avezov of Pasadena Pets Veterinary Hospital. "We want this last experience for the client and their pet to be as comfortable and pleasant as it could be."

The pet owner designs the final home visit with Holmes. It can take place in a sunny garden spot or a favorite chair in the house. Owners can include meaningful items, such as candles or readings. Family, friends, and other pets often gather together, and at times family members in other cities will join in on video conference call during the pet's final moments.

It was a matter of honor for South Pasadena resident Mavi Llamas to allow her dog to die at home. “It's been almost two months since I had to make the decision to let go of my dog, George, after loving her for almost 17 years,” Llamas said. “As difficult and painful as that decision was to make, I am glad that we honored her with a dignified death in her home, surrounded by the people she looked after and loved for so many years.”

“Home is where we would all like to be on our final day — in our own bed, surrounded by loved ones,” Holmes said. “At such a difficult time, I’m honored to be part of these families’ lives, to share in their memories, and to be able to bring some peace and comfort to owners and their beloved pets."

EDITOR'S NOTE: Sarah Grear is an Alhambra Source community contributor as well as public relations manager for Gifts of Peace.

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2 thoughts on “Saying goodbye to your pet at home”

  1. The person who wrote this “article” is the public relations manager for Gifts Of Peace. That makes this an advertisement, not an article.

    Regardless of the quality of the service, I would not have allowed this to be printed here unless it was written by a journalist who had no financial interest in the company.

    Part of writing an article about any company is to do some actual work and find out the good and bad of the business.


    Robin Holmes came to our house (at our misguided request) because our Smoosh was suffering and we needed to let her go.

    We researched ‘in home euthanesia’ because we wanted it to be as painless and peaceful as possible. Research and referrals led us to Robin Holmes. I regret it so muchnd would never recommend this woman to anyone who cherishes their pet. It was without a doubt the worst experience of my life.

    Yes, Robin came over on short notice. That’s the best thing that I can say about her. Smoosh was suffering with a cancer filling her chest with so much fluid she could not breathe and I couldn’t watch her struggle any more.
    There the mercy of our intentions ended.

    We should have known as soon as Robin walked in and Smoosh hissed at her.
    Robin works with no assistants so we were active participants in this nightmare. In retrospect, if we had not been so emotionally stretched, we should have asked… no demanded… she leave immediately.

    Robin had us corral Smoosh (she was already frightened) so that she could give the first injection. Smoosh panicked at the jab (mid way down her back, along her spine?) and bolted. Our little cat ran all over trying to escape, and eventually ended up behind a desk cowering. Robin then instructed us to ‘scruff her’. As I said, we were terribly distraught, and followed her lead. I will never forgive myself.

    Once we had Smoosh in hand, Robin came to her and said ‘She’s getting a nice cocktail now” WTF?? Like this is supposed to make us feel better? A nice cocktail? This was my sweet Smoosh’s life she was talking about.

    She then gave Smoosh the final injection, which stopped her heart, pretty much immediately. When we unwrapped her from the blanket that she was bound in, we found that she was totally puffed up… her tail was puffed, as was all the hair on her back. True signs that my Smoosh died terrified, in a home where she had never known anything but love and have never known fear, until Robin Holmes came into it. We also were unable to close her eyes, which were wide open at the end.

    Robin never admitted that things had gone badly for Smoosh. In Robin’s words, Smoosh ‘relaxed’ after the injection to calm her. I was there. My sweet Smoosh was terrified but paralyzed.. She was not relaxed.

    It took Robin a week to return Smoosh’s ashes to us after she had received them from the crematorium. We confronted her on this at the time we told her of our anger over the way Smoosh died at her hand.

    She said she would refund her fee, but we have not ever heard from her again, she and has never fulfilled her promised refund.