Author Archives: Pat Atkinson

Pig Pals

posted March 15th, 2011 by


It All Began With Marshall, a 150 pound black potbellied lump of love. Lou Anne  Epperley  was a 36-year-old successful newspaper reporter in Oklahoma City  when she attended an exotic livestock auction  at El Reno’s stockyards and locked eyes with  a five-week-old potbellied piglet on the block.

She raised her hand, the gavel went down  on her $85 bid, and her life journey took a big  turn as she drove home with  piglet Marshall,  who did indeed say, “wee, wee, wee” all the  way.

That was 15 years ago. Marshall grew into  a portly porcine while Lou Anne attended college science night classes in preparation for  applying to Oklahoma State University’s veterinary school. 

“Marshall inspired me to go to veterinary  school and I loved it,” she recalls. The 40-yearold journalist left her career and Oklahoma  City home and moved with Marshall, her cats  and dogs to a mobile home in the country near  Stillwater.

With pigs in  her heart and for  love of Marshall,  she dug out as  much learning as  possible about  swine medicine,  then took a job  for six months  at a 2,500 commercial sow  farm to gain  swine production experience, cleaning up after  mother pigs who gave birth, caring for dozens  of tiny pink squealing piglets, separating and  counting barrows and gilts (male and female  pigs) on weaning days.

“Who knew a former sorority girl whose  early career included a stint working in the  U.S. Senate in Washington, D.C., shopping at  Saks and lunching at the Monocle, would be  happiest on Green Acres?” she says.

And at the pig farm, she sometimes stood  happily in a room filled with sows as far as she  could see, singing inspirational songs and giving them pep talks as the Mama pigs quietly  settled, listening to her lullabies.  

DVM Epperley moved to the Tulsa area  working as a small animal practitioner, but pig  friend Marshall was aging, his joints becoming increasingly painful. When the best that  veterinary medicine could offer no longer  helped him, Lou Anne’s heart ached as she  rocked her pig, sang his favorite songs, and  a trusted colleague helped escort Marshall to  the Rainbow Bridge.

That was not the end of her pig love affairs  and Marshall’s legacy lives on. Youngster  Clyde Barrow came along and other pet pigs  in need of homes and veterinary care “just seem to find me,” she says. She continues  building a veterinary practice for pigs and  works closely with Tracy McDaniel, who owns  Hamalot, a Sand Springs pig sanctuary, home  to dozens of  rescues.

And, as you might imagine, it was a passion  for pigs that brought together Steve Epperley  and Lou Anne, a first marriage for both, who  are pet parents to one cat, six dogs, and six  pigs – all rescues and all living in pet pig  paradise.

Steve, warehouse manager for about a  decade for Southern Agriculture, and Lou  Anne, veterinarian at Southern Ag, connected  over a shared passion for pigs. (What else?)   Steve’s rural childhood included pigs and their  fondness for pigs sparked the relationship.

Their pig family at their acreage south of  Bixby includes Clyde Barrow, who at 10  weeks old came from a potbellied pig expert  friend and mentor in Missouri at  Pig O’ My Heart  Potbellies; Meegan,  a retired Momma  sow; Gladys, an  adopted orphan;  Truman and Pearl,  who came together  from a client no  longer able to care  for them, and Elmer  Pudge, a three-legged  pig whose badly  injured leg was amputated due to an attack  by a dog.

Pigs are good pet  pals, but Epperley  encourages all potential pig parents  to do lots of  homework  before falling  for the idea  of a pig in  the house. She advises  becoming  familiar with  their special needs and first checking  zoning laws.

Be aware that pigs should be spayed or  neutered, have their hooves and tusks trimmed  regularly which often requires anesthetic, be  fed mini-pig rations not other pet food, provided plenty of bedding and barn warmth in  winter and, because they do not sweat, they  need a wading pool, mud wallow and shade  in summer. They like  being with other  pig friends, are OK  living with cats,  but commonly  injured by dogs.

“Pigs are smart, clean, not noisy,  can learn tricks like sitting up, love for their  tummies to be rubbed, but are not lovey-dovey  like dogs,” she says. And, those cute little  pink potbellied piglets grow up to about 150  pounds, bigger than most big dogs.

So, move over Mastiffs. Make room at the  hearth for the pigs

Muddy Paws

posted January 15th, 2011 by


Dogs Transform Inmates’ Lives,Shed Their Shaggy Pasts

The fur flies at Muddy Paws Grooming, but what’s really going on is much more than shaving shaggy dogs. Beneath the piles of clips and snips is a potential future of second chances for homeless dogs and women prison inmates, a working partnership. “It’s all about helping change people’s lives,” says Christy VanCleave, Muddy Paws coowner with Adrieanna Ralph. Both are longtime pet lovers and veteran dog groomers. And, both are former inmates, giving Christy and Adrieanna insightful understanding of the special needs of women in prison and teens who have aged out of state foster care, all with limited options for earning a living.

Christy has been in and out of jail five times, mostly in California, doing time for drug charges including drug possession, selling, and possessing drug paraphernalia. Adrieanna’s three times in Oklahoma’s corrections system were also drug-related. She finished the last year and a half of her recent four-year sentence at Turley Residential Center in north Tulsa.

About one year ago, after meeting in a substance abuse recovery program, “Celebrate Recovery” based at Southern Hills Baptist Church, the two opened Muddy Paws at 56th Place and Lewis Avenue, offering dog grooming, boarding, doggie day care, and obedience classes.
They also founded a non-profit organization, Pets Helping People, with the mission of grooming women and teens for careers in dog grooming. The church owns the property and is making it available for the training program.

“The women can support themselves and their families with a career as dog groomers,” Christy says. “It is a part of breaking the cycle (of crime)-trying to prevent some of them from going to prison in the first place or, for others, going back again.” Tulsans take their privately-owned lucky dogs to Muddy Paws for grooming and doggie day care, pampering, primping, baths and fluffing, doggie day out playtime and home-away-from-home boarding. This is the primary income that supports the non-profit vocational education program, Pets Helping People (PHP).

And there are always several rescue organization’s dogs lined up for makeovers before going out on the town to meet potential new families at adoption events. PHP has relationships for grooming rescue dogs with Tulsa Animal Welfare, the Sand Springs municipal shelter, Oklahoma Westie Rescue, Schnauzer Rescue of Tulsa, and Pet Adoption League (PAL).

At first glance, Muddy Paws looks simply like a busy center filled with dogs getting the works at the spa from the pet-loving staff.
But Christy and Adrieanna work with 4-5 students daily teaching the art and handling of grooming, including bathing, drying, shaving, snipping, clipping and more. And, student inmates and teens learn obedience training and doggie day care and boarding business operations.

PHP is a four-month training program. Most of the inmates in the program are living at the Turley corrections center, completing their sentences. The teens in training are receiving services, including housing, from Youth Services of Tulsa. Other social services involved with PHP are halfway houses Lindsey House and Hope House, and Women in Recovery, a program offering alternatives to prison.

Participating inmates, all non-violent offenders, must commit to on-going attendance in a substance abuse recovery 12-step program such as Alcoholics Anonymous, Narcotics Anonymous, or Celebrate Recovery. They are screened for other disqualifying factors such as taking psychiatric medications or former complaints of animal abuse.
To date, 13 inmates have been trained and seven are working as groomers. “There’s a high demand for groomers, so it’s a good career to learn,” Christy says. “We’re starting to get calls from retail stores looking for trained people to hire.” PHP’s inmate training program is the only one of its kind in Oklahoma and the five staff members of Muddy Paws/PHP are all former offenders committed to passing on their experience and expertise.

And, while the students are learning a new trade with each snip and clip, many of the rescued dogs are beginning their own rags to riches Cinderella stories. Their makeovers literally scrub and shear away the outward signs of hard living on the streets, abuse and neglect. Tails begin wagging and when the primping is finished, the doggie smiles shine.

You could say that the dogs are teaching the people about opportunities for new life while the people are preparing the dogs for second chances, too. It’s a paw-in-hand relationship.
“The dogs don’t care that we’ve been bad in the past,” Christy says. “We’re here doing what we love to do and helping change people’s lives.” And offer new life to adoptable dogs, too.

Professional journalist Pat Atkinson is also associated with area rescue and spay/ neuter programs.

A VOICE for the underdogs

posted October 15th, 2010 by

‘Fixing’ the Problem of Too Many Homeless, Euthanized Pets

If you’re involved with animal rescue and welfare and don’t know Ruth Steinberger by now, it’s inevitable that eventually your paths will cross.

That intersection may be in-person or a result of her work improving the lives of pets and people in Oklahoma.

She’s the “go to” authority on Oklahoma’s growing spay and neuter services network, efforts to pass animal welfare legislation, and the sad state of animal cruelty and neglect, puppy mills, animal hoarders.

In Tulsa Pets Magazine, she has written about state legislation to improve living conditions in puppy mills; the growth of illegal street sales of puppies out of vehicles; the shocking sickness of animal hoarding, and new, affordable spay and neuter services.

She’s petite and soft-spoken, but is the “speak up” voice of positive change for the underdogs. For the past 20-plus years, Ruth has worked on behalf of homeless, helpless, abused, dumped, abandoned, caged and frightened animals to make their world a better place.

Speaking Out
Her messages are loud and clear:

• There are too many homeless animals and too few homes. Rescue organizations can help one at a time, but affordable spay and neuter networks are the real answer to “fixing” the problem of homelessness, suffering, overflowing shelters, and euthanasia of thousands.

• Preventing too many pets from being born into a world where they are not wanted costs less and brings the biggest bang for the buck.

And, she gently reminds, none of this is complicated. “No culture likes starving or abused animals. It’s just something people live with. But we can change it. And we are.”

This woman thinks big and works for practical solutions – spay and neuter your own pet before “just one litter” and, if you are outraged by animal cruelty, neglect, and homelessness, let your legislators and law enforcement officials know that you expect change.

“If you are committed to responsible, compassionate behavior and you vote, then you hold a huge card in your hands. By using it, you can trump the bad guys,” she says.

She’s more at home in jeans and a tee than “dressed up” at workshops educating professionals and volunteers. And her home is a haven for about a dozen dogs, four cats and horses, too, all rescued from the meanest of streets or not adoptable because they were too old or not cute enough. It’s probably a fact that of the thousands of critters she has met, each instinctively knows Ruth as “friend.”

Pet Dog and Pony Show
Ruth’s passion for animal welfare was born many years ago with a little dog and a pony ride.

A dog named Farfel was her first pet when she was 9 years old. The pup was spayed and lived 17 years, but only one of her several littermates, a puppy named Lollypop got a home – the mother dog was not spayed and Farfel “really should have been prevented,” as an older and wiser Ruth now knows.

Her first awareness of animal neglect was at age 7 at a pony ride. It was summer and there was no water for the ponies where they stood all day in the heat. Little Ruth “bugged” her father about it until he finally reported the situation to the ASPCA in New York City.

In later years, living on the East Coast, she volunteered in animal rescue, but soon realized that if pets were spayed and neutered “it just made more sense – IF the animals were fixed and stayed in their own homes instead of coming to mine. In spay and neuter programs, I was only briefly handling one pet instead of six or eight that needed someplace to go.”

Spay/Neuter Roots
Next she volunteered with a rural spay and neuter program in the Appalachian Mountains, that was associated with Virginia Tech’s veterinary medicine college. In 1998, she set out on a camping trip, hoping to connect with other spay and neuter groups, traveling with one horse, two dogs, notebooks and art supplies. In southern Arkansas during cotton-picking time, she saw a level of poverty even worse than in Appalachia, many neglected dogs, and no spay and neuter services.

The turning point was in rural, poor southeast Oklahoma when she stopped for gas and was greeted by a stray dog, soon joined by a dozen more. When Ruth asked a young girl nearby whose dogs they were, the answer was, “They’re yours now, ain’t they?” For a girl from the East, it was pretty odd. Then she learned that there was no spay or veterinary help for the dogs in the area.

“I knew there and then that I was selling my place in Virginia and moving to Oklahoma – it was the combination of the poverty and neglected dogs in Arkansas and this place. I knew I had something to share.

“Honestly, I never re-thought the decision from that moment on and never reconsidered.”

She moved to Pushmataha County, one of Oklahoma’s poorest, learned how to ask for funds and apply for grants, connected with a humane group, and thus was born Oklahoma’s first rural spay and neuter program, which continues to benefit thousands of pets in that corner of the state.

Dream to Reality
Now residing in Creek County, Ruth is director of outreach for Spay Oklahoma and continues building a statewide network bringing together legislators, law enforcement, veterinarians, other animal professionals, volunteers, non-profit rescue and service groups – all with a commitment to making a difference for the animals. She has received local, state and national recognition for her work.

And after a dozen years as a transplanted Okie, Ruth Steinberger’s name is synonymous with her dream for the animals.

“My dream is that we have programs to prevent animal suffering that are county-by-county, state-by-state, and ultimately worldwide, on a scope we can’t even imagine today.

“We may not be able to stop each psycho who harms an animal, but the greatest cause of death of pets in the U.S. is that there are too many cats and dogs born every day.

“Animal suffering can be viewed as a disease and we already have the cure. It’s prevention. And we can also stop practices that are cruel to animals, such as bull fighting.

“Working together, we can get it done.” This dream is “simple” and can become reality, Ruth says.

This, too, is certain. Ruth Steinberger is creating millions of paw prints to tomorrow’s safer, kinder, and more compassionate world for animals.

Pat Atkinson
Professional journalist Pat Atkinson is also associated with area rescue and spay/neuter programs.

Jog the Dogs

posted July 15th, 2010 by


Elaine Palmquist began running for fitness a dozen years ago.
Now approximately 250 runners, joggers and walkers have followed her sneaker tracks straight into the hearts of the dogs at the Tulsa SPCA. A year and a half ago, Elaine’s dream was to bring together shelter dogs who are waiting to meet their forever families with people who love dogs. Jog the Dogs was born and it’s a runaway success! When Elaine and the volunteers are at the shelter, the pets are romping in their large fenced play yards, woofing and wagging, waiting for the snap of the leash, freedom and adventure on a walk or jog in the adjacent meadow or on quiet roads.

“Just seeing the joy on everyone’s faces (canine and human!) is so rewarding,” Elaine says. “The dogs love the one-on-one attention.
They know that it’s playtime with people and the volunteers help them become even more adoptable. “When a dog is with a volunteer he’s learning how to trust people and how to have fun, he’s also learning manners and how to respond to caretakers. Bouncy, unfocused, anxious and energetic dogs begin to settle and benefit from the exercise, increasing their chance of finding forever homes as a companion and family member,” she says.

Now There are Three
Take Boomer, for example. College students Kim Foster and Greg Harmon were among the first to join Jog the Dogs. They met and began running and walking with Boomer, a strong, high-energy, outgoing Foxhound Pointer. “I’d always had small dogs while growing up, so I thought Boomer might be too much for me to handle easily,” Kim recalls. “But from our first time out together, he was a good partner.” As the couple’s favorite furry buddy among the 40-plus dogs in daily residence, it did not take long for Boomer to recognize their car and dance, smile and woof, greeting “his people” when they arrived at the shelter, leashes in hand, ready for outings together. Kim and Greg, along with Katy and Dave Kraus, are now assisting Elaine with new volunteer orientations and off-campus events attended by teams of people and pets. The engaging pup, a stray found walking the streets and brought to the TSPCA when less than a year old, soon left paw prints on the hearts of the couple and, when they became engaged, Boomer figured into their future. After waiting more than a year at the shelter, Boomer was Kim and Greg’s early wedding gift in May from Jog the Dogs friends and now there are three, home together and planning an August wedding. Boomer may attend the garden wedding! Other volunteers have met their best buddies at the no-kill shelter and made it a forever friendship.

Get Up and Move It!
It was, of course, dogs who inspired Elaine’s idea for Jog the Dogs.
In the winter of 2009, the busy stay-at-home mom to two little boys was looking for a way to help shelter dogs. “I thought about how my own two dogs, Murphy, an Aussie, and Benny, a Bernese Mountain Dog, bring joy to our family and how they LOVE running with me. I began brainstorming about recruiting runners and walkers to the SPCA to do the same thing I was doing,” she says. She proposed the idea and it was off and running. With the support of the Tulsa Running Club, fitness and yoga centers, gyms, running store owners, media, and others, Jog the Dogs has hit the big time with mentions in national Runner’s World magazine and an upcoming book by Californian Kyra Sundance featuring 101 activities to share with dogs.

And, most importantly, as volunteers at the shelter play with the pooches and cuddle with the kitties, it is truly the pets and their future families who are the biggest winners. Former street cats and unwanted dogs become priceless pets, turning looking for love into forever-loved family friend.

Journalist Pat Atkinson is a longtime friend of the Tulsa SPCA.

Tulsa SPCA 2910 Mohawk Blvd.
918.428.7722 Email: [email protected] Orientations once monthly

Spay Oklahoma’s New South Clinic Opens Lucky Year #7

posted July 15th, 2010 by

By Pat Atkinson

“We project that we’ll serve 10,000 cats and dogs and their guardians this year, 7,500 surgeries at our established north Tulsa clinic and 2,500 at our new south location,” says Judy Kishner, president of Spay Oklahoma’s board of directors. “We opened this new clinic to meet demand for low-cost spay and neuter services. At this time last year, we had a six-week waiting period from initial call to appointment. A waiting period of no more than three-weeks is best, otherwise we too often lose the opportunity to prevent more litters,” she said.

“And transportation to our north clinic was a common problem for many of our prospective clients. Now we can geographically better serve more people and pets.” Spay Oklahoma is the only program of its kind with site-based clinics in eastern Oklahoma. There are three low-cost spay/ neuter programs in Oklahoma City, operated by various rescue groups.

At an average charge of $100 – $200 at veterinary clinics to spay or neuter dogs or cats, low income families often cannot afford to provide care or sterilize their pets, contributing to abuse and neglect, injury, dumping, bites, roaming dogs, unwanted puppies and kittens, and sick animals.

Among the first surgery “customers” at Spay OK south is Bennie the Boxer, rescued by three kind ladies who responded to a distress call about a thin, hungry, diseased, and skin-infected dog dumped near a residential facility for juveniles.

Tulsa Boxer Rescue took in Bennie, a young dog who earlier had puppies who could not be found. She was infested with worms, covered with mites and other parasites, and her skin disease was complicated by dozens of open sores from insect bites.

Now, following her spay surgery, Bennie is in foster care, wormed, vaccinated, receiving regular healing scrub baths and eye meds for an infection, and, when strong enough, she may be facing another surgery for complications from infected lymph glands.

And for probably the first time in her young life, she’ll have a chance to share love with a new family after her journey to recovery from months of abuse and neglect. Her health and looks will soon match her sweet and winning personality, a dog who cherishes the kindness of people.

Lacking the interception of her trio of rescuers, Bennie was probably destined for the City of Tulsa’s animal control facility, at high risk of euthanasia due to her health complications.

Nancy Atwater, Spay Oklahoma’s secretary/ treasurer and voluntary chief executive officer, notes, “Our goal is to reduce the euthanasia rate of adoptable animals by 50 percent at the City of Tulsa shelter. This new clinic will give us the capacity to double the number of surgeries per year from 7,000 to 14,000 by the year 2011, the first full year of capacity operation at the new clinic.” Last year, of the 11,640 cats and dogs impounded at the City of Tulsa facility, 63 percent (7,303) were euthanized. “Because there are too many dogs and cats and not enough homes for them, thousands are put down at the City shelter. The only way to reduce that number is spaying and neutering, preventing the birth of unwanted puppies and kittens,” Atwater says.
And now, with two locations, Spay Oklahoma is doubling the odds against too many unwanted dogs and cats, too many put down, too few homes, overcrowded rescue shelters, too much abuse, neglect, abandonment and heartbreak.

Pat Atkinson is an award-winning journalist and member of Spay Oklahoma’s Board of Directors.


posted July 15th, 2009 by

Story and Photos by Pat Atkinson

Jack Black was only 10-months old and living under a house trailer with five other puppies and four adult dogs when the hospice staff first met the furry gang.

Jack’s owner, Lloyd, was a Vietnam vet with a gruff exterior and a tender heart. And he was on his end-of-life journey, softened and assisted by the caring people from Hospice of Green Country.

A relative of Lloyd’s had dropped off four adult Weimeraners, earlier purchased for breeding. Along came a black Labrador and soon there were six puppies.

“When we first admitted Lloyd to hospice, we discovered that he had 10 dogs running around and he was overwhelmed,” recalls Rev. Delana McNac, HGC’s director of spiritual care.

Lloyd and the dogs didn’t know how fortunate they were to be connected to Tulsa’s only non-profit hospice organization that also has a program to care for patients’ pets caught up in the end-of-life process.

Homes were found for three of the adult dogs and plans made to vaccinate the puppies. “But we were too late,” McNac says. On vaccination day, the puppies were all dying with distemper. Only puppy Jack and the adult Weimeraner survived.

“I knew then that Jack was special. He had pneumonia, but he still wagged his tail when I petted and talked to him … he had a quiet strength about him that spoke straight to my heart,” she recalls.

It’s that heart-to-heart bond that is the essence of Pet Peace of Mind, HGC’s unique program that enables hospice patients to keep their pets at home with them throughout their illnesses, ensuring that the deep human-animal bond does not become a casualty at a time when other losses are occurring.

The program provides a range of services for its clients’ pets such as transportation to and payment for vet care or grooming, and buying food, medication and kitty litter, flea and tick treatment, and pain and comfort care for elderly pets. It also helps patients with planning for animal placement after death.

Tulsa’s Pet Peace of Mind is going national now as a model for establishing similar programs in hospices around the country. Banfield Charitable Trust, based in Portland, Ore., contacted McNac a year ago when trust officials were looking for ways to support hospice patients and their pets. Its mission is fostering programs to keep pets and people together and Tulsa’s two-yearold program is a natural match for Banfield. McNac will be involved in reviewing grant requests and training hospice staffs nationwide.

McNac was a veterinarian before transitioning into her chaplaincy training, bringing with her to hospice a professional and personal awareness of the importance of the bond between people and their loving and faithful furry companions throughout life, especially at life’s end.

Assisted by the pet-loving staff at HGC, she established Pet Peace of Mind in July, 2007 funded from her own pocket, later from an anonymous donor and HGC.

McNac’s acquaintance with a “portly” Dachshund named Stretch sparked the idea for pet hospice care four years ago at a different hospice program. Stretch’s owner Harold and the little weenie dog were inseparable from the moment Stretch unexpectedly waddled through Harold‘s door and into his heart.

As Harold’s and his wife’s health deteriorated, his family decided to send the dog to live out of state and Harold’s health accelerated downhill. Grieving and isolated while sitting in a darkened room, he confided to McNac how he missed his little dog, worried about Stretch, was angry that the family took him away and afraid the relative might have taken Stretch to a shelter.

McNac recalls: “My last visit was one I will never forget. Harold laid on his bed, fully clothed, talking nonsensically to no one in particular, staring at the television. Beside him, where Stretch had always laid, Harold petted an invisible dog over and over again. He died later that night.”

She says she later founded Pet Peace of Mind because she believes, “We could have changed the end of Harold’s life if we had taken Stretch in, placed him in a foster home and brought him to visit Harold on a regular basis with hospice volunteers.” And the hospice staff would have helped Harold plan ahead for Stretch’s home life after Harold’s death.

As Pet Peace of Mind was being launched, little survivor Jack Black was one of the earliest pets aided by Hospice of Green Country’s program.

“He cheated death,” McNac says. After the death of Jack’s owner, McNac adopted the brave, black Labrador-Weimeraner cross. Jack often visits HGC’s offices, walking the hallways carrying toys, greeting and acknowledging staff members and volunteers.

“He cheers up everyone he meets and gives all of us motivation and inspiration,” she says.

Hospice of Green Country’s Pet Peace of Mind program has gone national.

Portland, Oregon-based Banfield Charitable Trust is offering start-up funding to nonprofit hospice programs across the country, based on a how-to manual written at Banfield’s request by Pet Peace of Mind founder Rev. Delana McNac, spiritual director at HGC and a former veterinarian.

Pet Peace of Mind in Tulsa, founded two years ago, has cared for 150 pets owned by approximately 50 hospice patients.

Banfield directors were looking for another way to continue the trust’s mission to fund or administer innovative programs keeping pets and families together.

“For many in hospice care, their physical condition leads to a decrease of previously enjoyed social opportunities and relationships. Their pets offer unconditional love and acceptance, comfort and companionship when it’s needed most – when friends and family aren’t seen as frequently, or when words are too hard to say,” the Banfield’s recent media announcement notes.

Banfield grants will include training by McNac and others to help hospices across the country offer pet care to patients physically or financially unable to provide essentials for their pets. Sometimes simple tasks like walking, feeding, grooming or a trip to the veterinarian are difficult. The program provides these services and more. The trust is associated with Banfield veterinary clinics based in PetSmart stores.

Grants foster Banfield’s goal of helping hospice patients “complete their end-of-life journey with the comfort and companionship of their pet, without worrying about their pet’s current or future needs.”

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