Perspective: Caring for Your Beloved Pet Amid Uncertain Times

by Susan Fried

Like many people who live alone, I’ve been spending a lot of time with my elderly cat, Nikki lately. We’ve been together since she was seven-and-a-half weeks old. I named her after one of my favorite poets, Nikki Giovanni. Needless to say we have a very special relationship.

In an odd way, staying home is perfect timing for me. Nikki’s health is declining and I don’t know how much longer she’ll be around. She’s on two different medications and I’m not sure if she’ll make it to April 7, her 18th birthday. As a result, I’m in frequent contact with her veterinarian. The other day I received an email from their office outlining their Covid-19 protocols. 

Like every business, they have instituted a policy of social distancing. You need to call them from your car when you arrive at their office; they then come out and retrieve your pet. After the appointment is over, they phone you and bring your pet outside for pick-up once you arrive. It seems like a sensible policy until I started wondering what happens if I have to put Nikki to sleep.

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My beloved Nikki. (Photo by the writer)

The Columbia City Veterinary Hospital has instituted similar measures. They sent a letter out to their clients, saying “Our goal is to be able to continue to provide urgent care for our four legged family, which requires a network of healthy humans. As of Tuesday March 17 until further notice, all appointments with a veterinarian or nurse will be performed as a drop off.  For surgical or dental appointments, healthy clients may still accompany their pet into the clinic for an intake and discharge appointments.” The letter included a four-step procedure to keep clients, their pets and the veterinary staff healthy and safe.

Kevin Harwood, the Columbia City Veterinary Hospital practice manager said in an email that the staff “is handling the situation amazingly! Everyone has pulled together to adapt….”  He said that they are handling end-of-life care on a case by case basis with the clients and attending doctors for that day. Keeping in mind that it’s a delicate/emotional situation, we are adapting as needed while maintaining our protocols as much as we are able.”

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Ollie (tongue out) awaits his appointment at the Columbia City Veterinary Hospital. (Photo: Susan Fried)

I haven’t heard back from my vet about what they’ll do if the worst case scenario happens and I have to make the decision to euthanize Nikki. I hope they have a policy similar to The Columbia City Veterinary Hospital.

Hopefully Nikki can last a while longer. She’s my family.

Susan Fried is a local photographer and writer and a frequent contributor to the Emerald, most recently sharing a photo essay of inspiring women during Women’s History Month. She also contributes to the Skanner and other publications.