Helping make the worst times a little better.
We are a team of veterinary professionals and animal lovers that understand the human-animal bond and know that you want only the best for your beloved pet, including when it is time to say goodbye. We offer compassionate end of life care for your beloved pet where they are most comfortable-at home. Whether we are maximizing quality of life in an ailing pet through a home hospice program, or helping them pass away comfortably, saving the stress of a visit to the clinic can be a great benefit to both the pet, and the owner.
SERVICES WE PROVIDE
AVAILABLE BY APPOINTMENT*
Phone hours 8am-6 pm
Appointment hours 9am-6pm*,
*Appointment availability is not guaranteed, contact for details. We will do our best to be available for urgent needs, but cannot guarantee our availability nor ability to respond to inquiries immediately.
After hours and weekend appointments will be made depending on availability, and may be subject to additional fees. Call for details and/or to see if we're available.
The worst part about having pets is losing them, and unfortunately, no matter how long we are blessed with their company, they're never here long enough. When a pet is nearing the end of their time with us, we sometimes have to make a very difficult decision-likely the most difficult decision we'll ever have to make as animal lovers/pet owners.
Although nobody ever looks forward to that point in their pet's life, we do have the gift of allowing them a peaceful, pain-free transition when we believe their quality of life is poor.
While a few pets actually enjoy a trip to the veterinary clinic, they are few and far between. Unfortunately, no matter how hard we try, we'll never make a clinic as comfortable as the pet's own home. Allowing our pets to be in their most comfortable environment as they fall asleep not only allows them maximum comfort, but also allows their owners the comfort of being at home and not having to worry about a waiting room full of people to deal with on their way out.
To learn more about the process, click here.
Home hospice care
There comes a time in our pets' lives that we realize their time with us may be short, and we want to maximize their quality of life for as long as we can before we may have to consider tough choices such as euthanasia.
Whether we are controlling pain, dealing with chronic ailments, or just want to discuss/establish our "plan" from here on out, saving the hassle of a busy clinic can save everyone some anxiety.
When we do lose a pet, we're faced with many questions we may or may not have thought of before. One of those is what to do with our pet once they've left us.
Many people don't have the option to, or choose not to bury their pet and elect cremation. We can take your pet with us at the time of euthanasia and arrange their cremation.
If you choose to have your pet's cremains (ashes) returned, they will be returned in a wooden urn within 7-14 days.
We will also pick up your pet and arrange cremation if they die naturally at home.
WHO WE ARE
Learn About Us
Better Goodbyes developed as a subsidiary of Gilbertsen Veterinary Services, PLLC, which has been in the practice of mobile veterinary health care in SW Washington since 2016. We decided to specialize in home hospice and euthanasia beginning in late 2019. We realize that saying goodbye to a pet can be every bit as difficult as losing a human family member and want to make that process as peaceful for the pet and their human family as possible.
We are currently serving SW Washington, including Cowlitz, Lewis, Wahkiakum and Thurston counties. Additional travel fees may apply for all appointments that are more than ~30 minutes from Castle Rock, WA.
We no longer provide services to Clark county due to lack of availability and the majority of our appointments being booked to the North.
Unfortunately, we cannot provide services in Oregon.
SEE WHO WE ARE
Dr. Gilbertsen was born and raised in the Longview/Kelso area and graduated from Kelso High. After high school, he attended Perry Technical Institute in Yakima for an education in Industrial Computing and Process Control (Instrumentation) and worked in pulp and paper for a few years, before deciding to return to school to pursue his interest in veterinary medicine. He graduated from Central Washington University with a BS in Biology in, and completed his Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from The College of Veterinary Medicine at Washington State University.
Since graduating from veterinary school, he has practiced at multiple small animals clinics in SW Washington as well as worked for the USDA as a Veterinary Medical Officer in the National Import Export Services. He is also an adjunct faculty member of the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, where he returns for a week each fall to help 2nd year veterinary students conduct a mock-clinical scenario. (For more info or to consider donating to a great educational program, see Diagnostic Challenge).
He and his family currently live in Longview and have a menagerie of animals including dogs, cats, and chickens.
In his spare time, or at least whenever he can sneak away, you'll likely find Dr. Gilbertsen on his mountain bike with his favorite trail partner and all around bad dog, Josie.
“I just wanted to say thank you Dr Gilbertsen for making the passing of our dog Buddy as easy and comfortable for him as possible. Also a special thank you for the explanations and caring you showed our 3 kids as you went through the process with us. Although losing a family member is never an easy thing to go through you sir made us feel at ease as we said goodbye. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for you compassion and for all you do.”
Shonda Young-Kelso, WA
No alligators were harmed in the taking of this picture...
The cost of home services vary depending on your location, the size of the pet, and the day and time of the appointment. In order to get you an accurate estimate, please use the contact form above and we will contact you with an estimate as soon as possible. For urgent needs, please call and follow the prompts for urgent euthanasia needs in addition to the online form.
Home euthanasia- Starts at $275
Includes local house call (additional travel fees may apply), consultation, sedation and euthanasia.
Additional fees may apply for XL/Giant dogs or large animals over ~99 lbs.
Home hospice exam/quality of life consultations - Starts at $325
Includes local house call (additional travel fees may apply), exam/consultation and development of hospice plan for pet, if needed, as well as euthanasia if elected during the consultation.
Cremation prices depend on the weight of your pet and whether or not you prefer to have their cremains (ashes) returned as well as whether or not you'd like a clay paw print made (included with private cremations). Please contact for an estimate. Private cremation fees include delivery of cremains back to the pet's home within our local travel area. Delivery can be arranged outside of our local travel area for an additional fee or we can schedule a meeting for you to pickup the cremains in Castle Rock. A pickup fee of $25+ dollars will apply to any pets that die naturally to cover travel costs (this may need to be added to an estimate that was given with a home euthanasia visit if the pet dies before the appointment and cremation is still sought).
Travel fee- $30+ , in $30 increments per 15 min outside of local range.
Local range is ~30 minutes from Castle Rock. Beyond that, a travel fee will apply.
After hours fee- $100-200+
Weekend and after hours appointments will be made as we're available but are subject to additional fees.
Cancellation policy: We understand that situations change and/or pets may die before we arrive and appointments may need to be cancelled. We also do request as much notice as possible for any cancellations so that we can fill that spot with another patient in need. Last minute cancellations may incur charges as outlined below:
If the appointment is cancelled before the doctor has departed for your house, there will be no fees assessed.
If the doctor is in route and/or has arrived but no exam or consultation is performed, a local house call fee of $125 (plus any additional travel fees appropriate for appointments outside of home area). If the pet is deceased and cremation is elected, the fee is reduced to $25 (plus travel if appropriate).
If the doctor performs an exam and/or consultation and we decide not to euthanize the pet, the full fee will still be charged for the home hospice consultation.
*The fees listed are for estimation purposes and are subject to change at any time. For a detailed estimate, please contact us.
From Greek, "Good death"
We are advocates for maintaining your pet's quality of life as well as possible, for as long as possible, but when we can not provide them with an adequate quality of life, euthanasia offers us the option of allowing them to peacefully pass away, without further suffering. When they are suffering or are likely to begin to suffer as a disease progresses, it can be the last gift we can offer them, even though it may be the toughest decisions we'll ever make as pet owners and animal lovers.
Once the decision has been made to euthanize a pet, there are a few other tough questions that need to be asked and decisions to make. The first is whether you plan to bury them, or if you'd prefer to have them cremated. If you choose cremation, you'll also have to decide whether or not you'd like their cremains (ashes) returned.
When scheduling an euthanasia appointment, we will ask these tough questions in order to get you an accurate estimate for services. If you'd prefer to pay by credit card, we will email you an invoice with a "pay now" link that will allow you to enter your payment information securely online. We do not carry card readers and cannot accept credit card payments at time of service, therefore we require pre-payment if electing to pay by card. If you would prefer to pay by cash, please have exact change as we do not always carry change, and can not guarantee our ability to make change.
When we arrive for the appointment, we will have one form that requires a signature from an adult taking responsibility for the patient that grants us permission to perform the procedure as well as initials confirming your options for cremation or burial. If you're paying with cash, we will collect payment at that time as well.
Once the paperwork has been completed and any questions or concerns from anyone present have been answered/addressed, we will begin by giving the patient a small but powerful sedative as an injection in to a muscle, usually in the back leg. This medication cocktail takes ~2-8 minutes, depending on the pet, to relax them, taking away any anxiety as it does, and placing them in to a light to moderate level of anesthesia, where they will just be peacefully sleeping.
Once they are comfortable and having happy dreams, and everyone present is ready-as we'll ever be, we proceed with a second injection that is an intentional overdose of an anesthetic. This medication quickly and comfortably puts them in to a very deep sleep. Deep enough that brain, heart and respiratory function cease. The second injection is usually given into a vein, but may be administered elsewhere, especially in small and/or debilitated animals. Depending on how it is administered, it takes between a few seconds and a few minutes to cause the pet to pass away. As the medication takes affect, we will often notice subtle changes in their breathing rate-it may speed up momentarily, it may slow down, but we'll notice their breaths get shallower, then stop.
If you plan to bury them, we will confirm they have passed and excuse ourselves-allowing you to begin the grieving process. If you elect cremation, we will give you as much time as you need before taking them with us. We do have a gurney that allows us to move animals up to ~150 lbs with little to no help if there are no obstacles (stairs, tight corners, etc.) in our path, but we may need assistance, especially for large dogs or with exit barriers.
For those that elect private cremation, cremains (ashes) are usually returned within 7-14 days, but can occasionally take longer. We will call as soon as the cremains are returned and will either arrange their delivery to your home, or a local clinic where they can be picked up during their normal business hours.