By Coleen Ellis

Dr. Jenn Winnick is with Peaceful Pathways Veterinary Services in the San Francisco bay area. She grew up surrounded by animals, from dogs and cats to hamsters and horses. Inspired by the constant, unconditional love they gave, her life journey began as she combined this love and her education following graduation with her veterinary degree from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine.

The fall of 2011 was a defining moment for Jenn when she said good-bye to Kelley, her best friend, and confidant of thirteen years. Kelley was a remarkable companion. Present through all the ups and downs of life, relationships, veterinary school, and post-graduate training, she was always there offering unconditional love. It was an honor to be able to help her best friend pass in the comfort of her own home, surrounded by loved ones and familiar surroundings.

Having the personal experience of going through all the challenges of end-of-life care and finally euthanasia for Kelley, Dr. Winnick found a calling given her unique understanding for the difficulties and struggles of both her patients and owners during this time of life transition. Wanting to help ease the anxieties for all and make the end of life transition a peaceful and comfortable experience, Dr. Winnick started Peaceful Pathways in 2011.

Dr. Winnick has been an avid user of the IAAHPC Pet Memorial Cards and donation program. I wanted to know more about her experiences so that our extended IAAHPC family could learn from her best practices. “What has been the feedback you’ve received from using the Pet Memorial Cards?” I inquired.

“Families have been really appreciative and thankful,” the soft spoken and caring Dr. Winnick replied. “Prior to using these cards, I had been sending a different donation memorial but not hospice/palliative care specific. They were sent directly from that particular company, not from me, although they had my practice name on it saying that I had sent it. I liked these IAAHPC cards so much better as I send them specifically to my palliative/hospice families and I can include them right in the sympathy card I send, as well as personalize the piece with their pet’s name.”

“Getting started was easy for me. I initially saw a post on Facebook about the cards and the program, and just placed an order from the website! Most recently I purchased another supply at the annual conference.”

Dr. Winnick recently helped Denise Fenzi with her beloved dog, Raika. As with her business protocols, Dr. Jenn sent Ms. Fenzi her personalized IAAHPC card in honor and memory of Raika. To date, the memorial donations that IAAHPC has received from friends and family members of the Fenzi family and Raika has totaled over $5,600.

“Tell me about Raika and her family,” I said to Dr. Jenn. “She was an amazing dog and her Mom was an extremely dedicated and loving owner. Raika’s disease seemed to be managed well. Although listening and visiting with her at home, I felt I was able to appreciate a larger set of concerns than maybe what her family had been recognizing. I think that is such a huge benefit of being in the home environment versus a clinical setting as we see things we may not see in that clinical setting or see how the disease looks at home to the owners. I think raising these concerns and increasing awareness helped her family begin to prepare for the possibility that the end of Raika’s life may be approaching sooner than what they had been expecting.”

“I was correct in my concerns and analysis of the situation, and the end did come much sooner than what that were anticipating.”

“The feedback I got from Ms. Fenzi is that having a veterinarian experienced in this element of care and to help with decision making as well as providing guidance was tremendously helpful for her.”

As Dr. Winnick’s website so eloquently states, her practice is devoted to ensuring your pet’s final chapter is written to include as much comfort and dignity as possible.

Well done, Dr. Winnick. Thank you for all you do!

Next month, I’m so excited to share more about Raika and her family’s desire to support the IAAHPC memorial donation program through Dr. Winnick and Peaceful Pathways.

Order your supply of Pet Memorial Donation cards, and honor those you care for!

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A membership organization, IAAHPC is open to any person who would like to contribute to a constructive discussion as we learn from each others experience.