**COVID-19 Update**

We continue to provide services at this time with some added precautions taken. Please see below for more information, and contact us with any questions.

Helping make the worst times a little better.

Better Goodbyes

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.

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SERVICES WE PROVIDE

 

AVAILABLE BY APPOINTMENT*

 
Phone hours  8am-6 pm
Monday-Friday

Please note, Dr. Gilbertsen is often on the road or seeing appointments and it may take 1 or more business days to return your call for non-urgent questions. Please use our contact form for a quicker response.

Appointment hours 9am-6pm*,
Monday-Friday
 

*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.

 
Sleeping Dog

Home euthanasia

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.

Golden Retriever

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.

 

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Cremation

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.

 
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Service Area

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 Longview Fred Meyer.

We can no longer provide services to Clark county due to lack of availability and the majority of our appointments being booked to the North. Please try Best Friends Eternal if you need services in Clark county by clicking the link above or calling (360) 524-3328. They also provide services in Cowlitz county in case we're not available.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide services in Oregon.

 

 
 

SEE WHO WE ARE

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Aaron  Gilbertsen

Owner-Veterinarian

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.

 

TESTIMONIALS

Client Feedback

“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

This is what I was doing instead of studying last week!
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No alligators were harmed in the taking of this picture...

 

Fees*

The cost of home services vary greatly 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 email you 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 $250

  • 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 ~100 lbs.

 

Home hospice exam/quality of life consultations - Starts at $250

  • Includes local house call (additional travel fees may apply), exam/consultation and development of hospice plan for pet, if needed.

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'll do our best to arrange delivery to a clinic closer to you for pickup. 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- $25+ , in $25 increments

  • Local range is ~30 minutes from Longview Fred Meyer (Roughly Woodland to Toledo). Beyond that, a travel fee will apply. Sample travel fees (estimated, may be more if outside of town):

    • La Center, Ridgefield, Ryderwood $25

    • Salmon Creek area, Chehalis $50

    • South Vancouver, Camas, Olympia/Tumwater/Lacey $75-100

 

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 en route and/or has arrived but no exam or consultation is performed, a local housecall fee of $75 (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.

 

 
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Euthanasia

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. 

 

What to expect during a home euthanasia.

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We don't have to mention that we are living in trying times. We are all doing our best to live in this new world, with a dangerous, novel virus causing disruption to what we used to consider normal life.

It's no secret that many businesses have been affected, including veterinary practices. While "curbside service" has proven to be an efficient means to allow us to continue to see and treat animals in need for most problems, it is very difficult to imagine saying goodbye to your pet in the parking lot and having a staff member take them inside to be euthanized away from you. Some clinics are allowing clients in to the building, but not allowing you to touch your pet during the process due to social distancing requirements. While this is a better option, it is still by no means ideal (not that saying goodbye to a loved one can ever be ideal...).

In order to continue to provide the services we do and keep Dr. Gilbertsen as safe as feasible, we have had to implement some policies to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19. The euthanasia process is an intimate process that requires close proximity between the pet, the doctor and the owner(s) or any others present. The fact that many people become emotional and may cry, sob, and blow their nose, which can all increase viral shedding in to the environment, further heightens the risk that we face by coming in to the home. It can not be truly done in a "socially distanced" manner, unless we separate the pet from the owner, which we are doing our absolute best to avoid. In order to allow us to continue to provide services, we have enacted the following policies/requirements from clients. 

  • Please follow the CDC's recommendations to prevent spread of the novel coronavirus in your daily life, including limiting contact with those outside of your home as best you can and wearing a mask when you are required to be in close proximity to others that you don't live with. (I know they suck, but I've been wearing one for several hours per day, several days per week for over a decade and I'm still here.) The science is pretty clear that they are our best tool to reduce viral shedding when we can't isolate ourselves, and you having a lower risk of being exposed and infected lowers our risk of being exposed.

  • Please let us know if anyone in the home or that has been present in the home in the last 14 days has any symptoms of COVID-19 or has any known or suspected exposure to someone that has tested positive or had symptoms.

  • Symptoms include: fever and/or chills, malaise, new or worsening cough, shortness of breath, sore throat,  muscle or body aches, loss of taste or smell, runny or congested nose/sinuses and possible GI signs-vomiting and/or diarrhea.

  • All people present at the appointment (in the same room/area as the pet) must wear a face mask/covering. We do have a limited number of disposable masks to provide if you don't have one. We feel terrible asking you to wear a mask in the comfort of your own home, but it is the best tool we have to decrease viral spread and Dr. Gilbertsen's exposure if anyone happens to be an asymptomatic carrier. Dr. Gilbertsen will also be wearing one at all times while present, in case he were shedding the virus without knowing it.

  • Please limit the number of people present for the appointment. We realize that there may be several people that want to be present, especially for a home euthanasia appointment, however we also know the more people we have in an enclosed space, the higher the risk of viral transmission.  Please consider having people visit/say goodbye before our arrival. If you have several people that want to be present, please consider if you have an outdoor location or a large, well ventilated room. There is not an exact number that we'll allow, as it depends on the circumstances, but we do reserve the right to request people leave the room/area if we feel it is too crowded to safely enter. 

  • If possible, please consider an outdoor location (back yard) or as large and well ventilated room as possible. We realize that outdoors visits will not be possible/feasible in many instances and that not everyone has a large room with great ventilation, but the smaller the room and more stagnant the air, the higher our risk. If feasible, please "air out" the room/area before our arrival by opening doors and windows or turning up the AC fan to circulate air.  More and more evidence shows the primary mode of transmission is likely through respiratory droplets and aerosols. Since you're not likely wearing your mask at home before we arrive you are potentially filling the air with viral particles that can stay airborne in stagnant air for hours. Improving circulation can reduce the risk of transmission drastically.

  • While Dr. Gilbertsen is normally a hugger, he is doing his best to refrain. He is also trying to remember not to shake hands as both of these "normal" activities can increase our risk of spread. We can't wait until we get to remove this section from our website and go back to "normal", but we also have no idea when that will be. 

  • Thank you for your understanding and for allowing us to help make your difficult times a little easier!

 

COVID-19 Precautions