Angel for animals

Keira Troxell

If you’ve ever had to have your dog or cat “put to sleep” you know how gut-wrenching it can be. The trauma is often compounded by having to drive a dying pet to a sterile and often noisy veterinary clinic for its final, harried minutes. Mobile veterinarian Keira Troxell, DVM, CVA, runs St. Francis Veterinary Housecalls, which offers a less stressful, more peaceful option. She will come to you and help you and your pet spend its final moments in the comfort of your home. If, during her visit, it appears your pet has more time, Troxell will teach you how to care for it, massage it, administer pain medications and even perform acupuncture if needed. Visit online at, or call Troxell at 876-4094.

What got you started doing this?

I used to work in a regular veterinary clinic, and euthanasia was always such a short, impersonal procedure, maybe 15 minutes, in a cold setting. It’s a traumatic death for the pets, and the owners are one inch from breaking down, frequently dealing with a rushed receptionist. In my mobile practice, the owner and I determine the right time for their pet’s passing. It’s so important to have a good ending.

What do you like most about your job?

Taking whatever time the owner needs, hearing how wonderful their pet was and seeing their animal relaxed at home. Cats seem to benefit the most, since they’re often terrified going to the vet. There’s a subtle taboo in society against grieving too much for an animal, but it’s an incredible bond that even friends often don’t understand. For many people, their pet is their main relationship. I’m also a graphic artist, so afterward I also enjoy sending the owner a homemade condolence card with a graphic of their dog or cat on the front. I’d make a lot more income working in a vet clinic, but the trade-off is worth it.

Is euthanasia the bulk of your work?

Yes, the vast majority of it. If I determine it is not needed, I only charge for a regular exam and travel—about $60-$70. I also substitute for veterinarians in town and love performing surgeries. On rare occasions, I instruct owners in hospice care to let their pet die naturally. But it’s a huge time commitment from the owner that often requires significant time off from work.

What’s the outlook for your practice?

I’ll be doing this for the foreseeable future. I stay very busy, and if I expand, I might hire an associate. It may sound kind of morbid, but performing euthanasia in the best possible environment is my calling.