Frequently Asked Questions

Dr. Elms can come within 24 hours.

How does euthanasia work and is it painful in any way?

Your pet will be heavily sedated with an injection in a rear muscle. This may or may not sting for about ten seconds. When your pet is completely unconscious (after approximately 15 minutes) the second injection will be given in an accessible vein in one of their legs. As they drift into unconsciousness the family is encouraged to say their goodbyes and hold their animal.

What happens if I change my mind at the last minute?

Dr. Elms will consider this a consultation and will possibly leave you with prescriptions for medications or suggestions for providing your pet with the best quality of life.

Are all religious beliefs honored?

Yes. Dr. Elms encourages caregivers to offer prayers, poems, music and whatever owners feel is appropriate that celebrates the animal’s life and the love it gave.

Is it possible to perform this outdoors?


When do I know the moment has come? 

Dr. Elms can help on a case-by-case basis assess your pet’s quality of life. There are many older pets who simply need pain or other medication to significantly extend their lives. In general, when an animal can no longer get up without help or refuses food for several days and/or has recurrent seizures,  this animal needs timely intervention to avoid further suffering.

Isn’t it best to just let an animal die naturally?

Generally not. Just like people, animals can languish in silent pain for long periods of time before expiring naturally. As pet owners, we artificially lengthen our pets’ lives through preventative care and are therefore morally obliged to perform this final act of kindness.

Is it possible that my animal will let me know that it is time for it to pass?

Frequently pet owners tell veterinarians that from one day to the next they saw a drastic change in their pets’ expression as if to say “I’m ready to go. Please help me. I just don’t have the will anymore.”

I know the time is near. Are you willing to make a preliminary visit to get to know my pet beforehand?

Yes. But there is a consultation fee depending on length of visit and distance traveled.

Are there any preparations I can do?

Caregivers are encouraged to personalize the setting so that their animal feels as comfortable as possible. Often this is where the pet normally slept, such as in the living room or bedroom. Often owners will give a final last meal. Occasionally an animal who is high strung will benefit from anti-anxiety medicine similar to valium which Dr. Elms can give you to administer before she comes.

My pet just died at home and I’m too distraught, are you available to pick up the animal for cremation?


What if my pet passes while Dr. Elms is en route?

Cremation is still an option. There is no charge for the visit, just for the mileage.

Are you involved in the burial?

Generally not, but arrangements can be made for those with physical disabilities who wish to bury at home.

Are my children old enough to witness this?

Children’s preparation for death is a case by case assessment, but generally children under seven years old should not be present.

How long will it take before the cremated remains are returned?

A week to several weeks depending on the schedule of Fluke’s Aftercare of Litchfield, Maine.

Is Dr. Elms limited to geriatric care and euthanasia?

Dr. Elms enjoys house calls for routine care (deworming, vaccinations, bloodwork), for those whose owners have transportation difficulties due to multiple pets, lack of vehicle, or physical or mental challenges.

Do you really see all species, including farm animals?

All species deserve to die with minimal pain and maximum comfort and dignity in a familiar setting. Dr. Elms has euthanized horses and pocket pets, like hamsters, mice, ferrets, rabbits, etc. She will see farm animals for routine care and humane (complete anesthesia) castration of pet pigs/goats/sheep. She will trim donkey hooves and goat/sheep horn with the animals under sedation.

Isn’t it hard for Dr. Elms to deal with so much death?

No. In addition to her work with Peaceful Passages she works as a SA vet in a clinic and sees a bit of everything. She feels that James Herriot’s words best summarize the unique honor that vets have compared to their human colleagues.

Good lad, good old Theo,’ I murmured, and stroked the face and ears again and again as the little creature slipped peacefully away.  

Like all vets I hated doing this, painless though it was, but to me there has always been a comfort in the knowledge that the last thing these helpless animals knew was the sound of a friendly voice and the touch of a gentle hand. – James Herriot

What are Dr. Elms’ pets?

She has all rescues – 3 dogs, 9 cats, 2 iguanas, and 1 rabbit. In the past she also had a boa constrictor, rats, guinea pigs and hamsters, as well as a 6 ferrets.

What is the most unusual euthanasia you have performed?

Craig was a 20 year-old cat whose time had come. His lifelong owners were marooned in the Camden harbor awaiting engine repairs on their boat. The local marina that was fixing the engine sent a cat carrier to bring Craig to shore where he could be peacefully put to sleep.

Dr. Elms feels very strongly about not supporting the factory farm industry and will not treat food animals in intensive factory farm settings.