Since graduating from Western University of Health Sciences in 2012, Dr Marchi completed an internship at VCA AVCC in Lawndale, and worked mostly overnight emergency shifts. After seeing countless cases of euthanasia in a very high stress situation, he saw the need to provide compassionate at home euthanasia service for anyone who requested it. In 2015, Dr Marchi, Pet Euthanasia at Home was created, and we have helped many people since then. More recently, he and Amber have started an ambulance and home treatment service for animals and can help with quite a few situations. See more details at www.vetERtransport.com .
Amber is a registered veterinary technician with 20 years of experience in the field, mostly in ER and always with a passion for exotics (birds, reptiles, rodents, etc.
We have both been pet lovers our entire lives with a menagerie of our own, and know from our own experience how hard it is to have to say goodbye to a loved one. We are passionate about what we do, and are happy to help you and yours when it is time.
Dr. Mike Handley graduated with a DVM from The Ohio State University in 2012. After graduation, he moved out to California for an internship at VCA AVCC, where he met Dr. Marchi and Dr. Nguyen. After the internship, Dr. Handley went into private practice and became a general practitioner. As a general practitioner, Dr. Handley sees firsthand how deep the human-pet bond is and what a difficult decision it is to euthanize your pet. Dr. Handley was happy to join the team in 2020 to allow pets to cross the rainbow bridge in the comfort of their own homes.
Outside of veterinary medicine, Dr. Handley and his wife, Julie, enjoy traveling the world, volunteering in their community, and spending time with their two fur babies. They have a 16 year old tuxedo cat named Paco, and a 14 year old black springer spaniel mix named Sadie.
Frequently Asked Questions
Will Dr Marchi be coming to my home?
Dr Marchi provided this service for over four years by himself, almost 24/7. At a point this became unsustainable and he had to hire on extra help. At the same time we started our ambulance/home treatment service and further extended ourselves. Dr Marchi still helps clients throughout each week, but the doctors above may be the ones helping you.
Are you still open during COVID-19?
We are still operating during COVID-19, we are just taking precautions. We ask that whomever is present to wear some sort of facial covering and give your hands a good wash before the doctor arrives. We do have to get closer a couple times to administer the medications but otherwise do our best with social distancing, and if it is possible to do this outside in a yard or patio we do prefer that for better ventilation, but we do understand this is not always an option.
How do I make an appointment?
This is what we do so our schedules are dedicated to this service. Same day service as well as planning ahead with an appointment several days ahead are both fine, but we do encourage you to plan ahead as best you can. We do not have any fees for changes or cancellations if things change on your end. Our schedule always varies, but it is not too often we are so busy we cannot help. If you call in and we cannot help you in time, we are always happy to refer to another company that can.
How do you know when it is time? How do I know if they are uncomfortable or painful?
Even though an animal cannot speak to us in words, they can still communicate in other ways. In order to detect pain and discomfort in animals, you must listen to their activity, body language, energy level, appetite, and vocalizations. Does your pet greet you with the usual enthusiasm? Has their appetite decreased, or have they lost a lot of weight recently? Do they want to play fetch or chase the laser-pointer anymore? You know your pet best, and you know what they can and like to do. I encourage owners to make a list of everything your pet loves to do, and as time goes by cross off things they can't do as well or not at all anymore. This can give you a visual representation of your pet's ability, and help you assess their overall quality of life.
Whatever the situation, it is never an easy decision to make. I am available to help guide you in this, and I encourage you to involve your regular veterinarian in this decision as well.
Why choose euthanasia over letting your pet die "naturally"?
Many people hope that their pets will simply pass away naturally in their sleep. While this is a completely legitimate aspiration, it is unfortunately not always the situation.
In nature, if an animal does not befall a tragic accident, then the weak, the sick, and the old are picked off by predators. Animals simply do not often die directly of terminal illnesses in nature, so a true "natural death" is often violent, but quick.
Pets on the other hand, have the benefit of our protection and medical treatment, allowing them to live much longer than nature ever intended. Now we have animals that can live good quality lives even with organ failure, heart failure, cancer, immune-mediated diseases, and all sorts of other conditions. While it is completely reasonable to wish for your pet to just pass away peacefully in their sleep, I can tell you from experience that this rarely happens. The sad truth of the matter is that terminal illnesses, when they are beyond reasonable treatment, lead animals down an often long, drawn out period of dying. This is as difficult for the pet to experience as it is for their family to watch.
It is these times that humane euthanasia can truly be a gift, helping ease them along to the Great Fire Hydrant in the Sky (or Scratching Post, Hamster Wheel, or whatever will be Heaven for your furry little friend). It is a gentle end to suffering, and for a long time now I have thought of it as the final gift you can give your beloved pet. You have spent years giving them a good life, and now when they need it you can give them a good death too.
Why choose euthanasia at home instead of at a clinic?
Euthanasia is the final stage of pet ownership. It should be as peaceful of a process as it can be for both the pet and their parent. I think we can all say that it is the rare animal that truly enjoys the vet clinic. It is an unfamiliar place with unfamiliar people, sights, smells, and sounds. More than likely it is the place where your pet was poked and prodded, albeit for good reasons, but for reasons your pet never understood. Just imagine your dentist's office; necessary and helpful, but my blood pressure increases just thinking about it. Compare this to your home, the place where your pet is most comfortable, surrounded by everything familiar. There is no need to move an uncomfortable, arthritic pet, no carriers or car ride, no barking dogs in the front lobby or waiting in an exam room. Just their favorite spot on the couch, and their favorite people around them. It is hard to be more private and dignified.
The euthanasia procedure explained:
In my experience, euthanasia can be a very peaceful way for an animal to pass on, and it is meant to be as comfortable of a process for both your pet and your family. It can be done inside or outside, on your pet's favorite bed, couch, spot in the yard, or even in your arms. Some people wish to be present through the entire process, just for sedation, or not be in the room at all. There is no wrong way, and I will do my best to accommodate your final wishes for you and your loved one.
Below is a description of my procedure. I go into detail on purpose. It is a very emotional process, and I believe the more familiar you are with it, the less chance there is of you being uncomfortable or caught off guard when I arrive and we begin. Before anything is started at your home, I will sit down with everyone present and go over what to expect in person as well.
The process begins with an injection of a heavy sedative, with the goal of complete sedation. This will be given either through a small, intravenous catheter or simply an injection under the skin - this will be determined once I evaluate your pet. Both are good, effective ways, but both do involve some minor restraint and a needle poke which some animals don't appreciate (about half seem to notice the injection). It is necessary, but rest assured we are as quick, gentle, and caring as we can be, and any discomfort is quickly replaced with warm, fuzzy feelings as the sedative sets in. Depending on the patient and route of delivery, sedation can set in within a minute (IV), or more slowly over five to ten (under the skin). Every once in awhile a second injection is required. The great majority of pets fall asleep very smoothly and quietly, but a small percentage do become loopy and dysphoric and need a little more help falling asleep. It is important to keep everything as calm and quite as possible in these situations. I will be there monitoring your pet, and if I think they need a little more, it is quick and easy to give. My goal is for your pet to be gently snoring or very close to it. I will let you know when I think they are ready, and will not move on to the next step until you are ready as well.
The final step to help them along involves an injection of euthanasia solution. This will be administered either intravenously with the same catheter, or an injection into the belly area. They are very sedate at this point and are in no pain. Again, I will determine which route is most appropriate after examining your pet. After this, they will drift off and be at peace. I use a stethoscope to listen for their heart, and will let you know when they have passed.
For cats specifically, it is incredibly rare where the placement of an IV catheter is necessary. If they are not very sedate, full restraint is required and they do not appreciate this. Under the skin only takes seconds to administer and is a quick sting, then they drift off over the next several minutes. Unless they are rather sensitive, we usually only see a little jump or vocalization, and some do not react at all. The second shot is delivered into the belly area, specifically the kidney or liver because their blood-flow is about the equivalent of an intravenous injection, and they are almost always gone within minutes, if not seconds. Like the first injection of sedative, sometimes a second shot of the euthanasia solution is required, but this is not common.
Sometimes you may see a little muscle twitching or heavier breathing, but these are just body reactions as it is shutting down. Mentally, your pet has already moved on and are not in any pain. Also, you should also not expect your pet's eyes to close. This is unexpected to most people, but it is just the way muscles tend to relax.
I have dedicated myself to nurturing the human-animal bond and want this to be as gentle of an experience as it can be. I truly believe that my technique is an easy, peaceful way for your pet to pass on, and would not do what I do if I thought otherwise.
General vs Private Cremation
With general cremation, multiple pets are cremated in the same compartment. Ashes are not returned, but the company I work with will have them scattered at sea.
With private cremation, pets are cremated in their own individual compartment so that only your pet's ashes may be returned. Ashes can either be returned by mail or you can pick them up yourself directly from the crematory.