Minnesota pet hospice volunteers comfort animals

In this June 18, 2018 photo, Mike Liay kisses his dog Archie's head in his backyard in Minneapolis. Liay says that sometimes Archie has the energy to play, and other times he just wants to lounge in the backyard. Archie has hepatic microvascular dysplasia, a congenital liver abnormality that affects blood flow in his liver and his digestion. There is no cure. He was given anywhere from six months to six years to live, and moved into the Secondhand Hounds hospice program. (Lacey Young/Minnesota Public Radio via AP)

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — An informal but dedicated network of pet hospice volunteers across the Twin Cities is working through local animal rescues to provide comfort to terminally ill and elderly animals.

The Pet Project Rescue has been running the Lukas Project hospice program since 2011, Minnesota Public Radio reported. Secondhand Hounds also launched a hospice program called Forever Loved about three years ago.

“We need to be there and be that voice for the voiceless, for the animals that are overlooked and might not be that bright, shiny cute puppy,” said Maia Rumpho, the founder of Pet Project Rescue.

The hospice network eases the burden of caring for sick or elderly animals by covering vet and food bills for foster families. The rescues spend at least $1,000 on each hospice case. The projects are funded through donations.

“We feel like their life is worth it,” Rumpho said.

Sick or elderly animals are often at a disadvantage when it comes to adoption because families are often hesitant to care for a pet that needs regular medication and veterinary visits. It can also be an emotionally draining task as animals may soon die.

Eileen and Eric Hill began fostering Laddie in April. The elderly toy poodle lost a leg in a car accident and has failing kidneys.

“We don’t choose to worry about we’re not going to have her anymore,” Eileen Hill said. “We just choose to give her the best life possible.”

The couple’s first hospice foster was Little Miss Rue, who died in April. The couple hadn’t planned to take on another animal so soon, but couldn’t turn down helping Laddie.

“We just decided we needed to keep doing this in honor of (Little Miss Rue),” Eileen Hill said. “It was hard. And it’s still raw … but how can you say I need to take a break because that hurt too much?”