We have to thank the selfless couple, Sam Goldman MRCVS and Kate Bleasdale MRCVS for offering this service that can make a huge difference in easing the trauma when parting with your pet.
Kate and Sam are both qualified veterinarians with a real love and passion for all animals. They have both grown up with pets who have always played a very important role in family life for them. Kate has always wanted to be a vet, her first word was ‘dog’ instead of ‘mum’ or ‘dad’ and has worked as a vet ever since graduating from the University of Nottingham. Since Sam graduated from Nottingham, he has worked both as a veterinary surgeon and as a pilot which are his two main passions in life.
The couple met whilst training to become vets in Nottingham and have been inseparable ever since.
They made the move down to Devon for their love of the sea and Dartmoor after Kate graduated. Sam grew up in the South West and it felt only right to set up camp here in Plymouth. They both now work for veterinary practices in the surrounding area and now share their home with their newest member of the family, Carmen the Standard Poodle.
Sam and Kate were inspired to set up Nirvana Vets to make home visit euthanasias an option for everyone after they realised the benefits from the handful of home visits they did while working for practices. The couple’s family pets are both elderly dogs: Bertie and Hector who are 10 and 11 years old respectively. Unfortunately, both these old men are nervous at the vets, which meant for Kate and Sam, a home visit will be the only way when their times come. The team’s goal is to make this possible for everyone. With the pandemic puppy and kitten boom, the pet population has expanded by 10% in just one year! Brought on by lockdown and furlough, people who had always dreamed of having a pets but didn’t have the time to were suddenly all able to realise this dream at once. The pandemic has also been a lonely time for a lot of people and having a furry friend around the house has helped people suffering from mental health difficulties and loneliness. This surge in the pet population has put an ever-increasing strain on the veterinary profession, which was already struggling with chronic understaffing prior to the pandemic. Unfortunately, this means that while practices would like to be able to offer home visits themselves, this often isn’t always possible.
Nirvana Vets began trading in August 2021 and work alongside nearly every veterinary practice in the area.
The process of a Nirvana Vets home visit is very gentle and straightforward for the pet and the owner. It begins with a free of charge phone call with either Sam or Kate to discuss your pet as an individual and assess their quality of life, guiding you through the decision process. Equally, there is information on their website to help with self-assessment if you prefer to do this yourself. The couple are very calm natured people which helps ease any stress or trauma that you may have.
They will then discuss a date and time that is best for you, or you can head to their online calendar on their website to book. With both options, you will always receive a phone call from either Sam or Kate.
On the day of the visit, Sam or Kate, sometimes both of them, will let you know when they are 30 minutes away from your house so you have some 1-1 time with your pet. When they arrive, they will take the time to get to know the pet so that they are comfortable being around them. There is no rush with these visits, they often schedule in an hour and a half but they want it to be a calm experience for everyone. They will then fill out the legal forms after the pet has become comfortable with Sam or Kate.
Instead of giving the euthanasia medication straight away, the protocol Nirvana Vets uses facilitates a gentle process as if the pet is simply falling asleep by giving a sedative first. This takes about 10-20 minutes which is the perfect amount of time for the owner to say their final goodbyes. Holding your pet as they gently fall asleep is such an important part of the process. The sedation contains powerful pain relief which enables your pets’ final moments to be peaceful and pain free. After the pet is sedated and in a deep sleep, they then place the IV cannula which allows the final injection to be given which works within a minute or so.
Prices start from £240 for cats and £250 for dogs, with cremation costs charged separately.
They are able to travel as far as Newquay and Exeter for home visits.
This process is much more personal and can be a lot harder emotionally for Sam and Kate than in a veterinary practice. Their goal is to help others be able to have their pet put to sleep in a calm and stress-free environment, the same way they would want to say goodbye to their pets. Although their job is very heavy, seeing the love that people have for their pets, the peacefulness of a home visit, and how grateful owners are for them facilitating one helps lighten this load.
As the company grows, they would like to take on one or two more vets. Mental health is very important and close to the couple’s heart so they plan to offer counselling for their staff as it is too easy to suppress emotions with this kind of selfless job.
Sam and Kate give the owner their all during a visit to make the process as smooth and stress-free as possible. They have ‘Do not disturb’ signs that they put on the door of each visit and art therapy kits for kids.
The most memorable review they have received by an owner was,
So far, they work part-time as Nirvana Vets and have been able to say yes to everyone. As the business grows they plan to reduce their hours in clinic, moving towards working within Nirvana Vets full-time.
In a recent survey, over 90% of owners would choose a home visit when offered one but most owners don’t realise it’s an option. Nirvana Vets want to get the word out that home visits are an option, even in a pandemic – ask your vet, and if in doubt you can always speak to Kate or Sam.
Aftercare is an equally important part of the service from Nirvana Vets. There are three options, a home burial, cremation where the ashes scattered for you or the ashes are returned to you by Kate or Sam with flowers and a card. For those who want their pet in a cemetery, they take them to a cemetery for pets in Newquay that is beautifully landscaped and has gravestones much like a human cemetery.
Both Sam and Kate wear masks when entering people’s homes as well as taking regular lateral flow tests and being double vaccinated. It is then up to the owner if they want to wear a mask but it is not required.
They have recently set up a Facebook page called ‘Nirvana Vets for Elderly Pets’ (but all pets are welcome) as a means of sharing important and useful information with pet owners. It is a forum for people to be educated about pets and how best to take care of them. Every month they choose a different topic relevant to our senior canine and feline citiens, for example, dementia is the topic of the month for October followed by arthritis in November through to December.
In the future, they have plans to set up a charity to help fund home visit euthanasias for pets whose owners may have mobility issues or may not be able to afford a home visit.
The compassion and selflessness that this couple exhibit is beautiful. Together with the motivations behind the company, it is clear to us that more people need to know about this service and this generous couple.