Comfort at the end

Keira Troxell

Photo by Vic Cantu

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 the 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 your pet spend its final moments in the comfort of your home. Troxell specializes in both Western medicine and alternative treatments, including acupuncture and massage for your pet. A huge animal lover herself, she says she lives on a farm with four dogs, a cat, a miniature horse and a flock of hens. She also happens to enjoy painting and her favorite subjects are, naturally, animals. You can find some of her artwork for sale on her business’ website ( She travels all over Butte County to bring comfort to beloved dying pets. 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. Go online or call Troxell at 876-4094 to learn more or make an appointment.

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 1 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. 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.