My name is Steph and I am the director of Home Vet NI. I live in Castlewellan with my husband Barry and my children Evelyn and Thomas. We have a 11 year old Shih Tzu called Dodi, a 9 year old cat called Inca and a 1 year old Golden Retriever called Willow.
From a very young age I’ve had animals in my life as my mum shows and sometimes breeds Shih Tzus. Our animals have always been part of the family so I know from personal experience how hard it is to say goodbye to our animals when the time comes. I still remember our old Yorkie Squeaky from when I was just a child. One morning I woke up and found her being unable to get out of bed to go to the toilet. So the heartbreaking decision was made to put her to sleep. It was a very difficult time for my whole family but the right decision for Squeaky.
In 2009, I went to the University of Liverpool to study to become a vet. I never wanted to do anything else. In 2014 I graduated and moved back to Northern Ireland to get married and start a family. I’ve worked in small animal practice for 8 years now and really love my job, although it can be very challenging at times. People often do say to me they couldn’t do this job as they couldn’t put animals to sleep. It surprises them to know I take pride in helping families through a very emotional time and ending an animals suffering in a peaceful manner. I believe animals deserve a humane and dignified death without pain or anxiety.
I have become very passionate in this area of my job in the past couple of years after helping my own family with the loss of two very much loved pets and having my own little Yorkie called Lola put to sleep. Lola had been very sick with heart disease for a long time and her medication had stopped being effective. A colleague at the time very kindly euthanised her for me while she slept in my arms. Although I wish this could have been done in my home, it was a gentle passing for the best little dog.
How Home Vet NI was created
The idea for Home Vet NI stemmed from two home euthanasia’s I performed for my parents.
The first was Paddy, a big Bulldog who just loved playing with my daughter. He was on treatment for a few months but despite this he deteriorated and my parents decided he didn’t have a good quality of life any more. We arranged for all the family to come round one evening so we could all be together and say goodbye to Paddy. He enjoyed all the attention he got that evening and passed away peacefully without any pain.
The second was my dad’s best friend Chico, a one eyed grumpy Jack Russell with crooked legs. Chico had a rough start in life and almost died the day he was born. My parents bottle fed him from day one and he and my dad became inseparable for 14 years. During the first lockdown in March 2020, Chico was struggling to walk about without strong pain relief. My dad knew it was nearing time to let him go but did not want to take him into a Veterinary Clinic as Chico wasn’t keen on other people and would become stressed. We managed his pain and needs until shielding was relaxed and I could go into their house again.
This time, due to the pandemic, there was only myself, mum, dad and Chico. We all had time to say our goodbyes then when we were ready, I helped Chico pass away peacefully in my mum and dads arms. Although we were all heartbroken at his loss, it was a comfort to my family that his last moments were in his own home surrounded by those that loved him.
Why choose Home Vet NI?
These experiences led to the idea for Home Vet NI. Most vets do provide a call out service but this is not always readily available at a time that suits working people and many vets have to rush to get back to their busy clinics. My aim is to provide a relaxed, intimate euthanasia service for cats and dogs in the local area. This can be arranged at a time to suit your family including evenings and weekends. This will give you the time needed to say goodbye to your pet. I can also provide aftercare if you wish and transport your animal to a local crematorium.
I have undertaken extra training to ensure you and your pet receive the best care at this difficult time. I have completed the Companion animal euthanasia training academy and the Blue cross pet bereavement support course so I can help before, during and after the loss of your pet.
If you would like to discuss any aspect of end of life care, please get in touch. I will be happy to help in any way I can. Although if your situation is urgent, always contact your usual vet.