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Hospice foster pets receive loving care at Metro East

Finding homes for all the dogs and cats living in animal shelters and rescue centers is a challenge in itself, but finding homes for terminally ill abandoned pets is an even bigger challenge.

That’s why Patty Barney wants to spread the word about hospice foster dogs.

Barney is a long-time volunteer with Partners for Pets, a local animal rescue. He currently has a hospice foster dog named Clementine.

“She had been found on the side of the road in Edwardsville and her mouth was injured, and when they did the pathology for the surgery on her mouth, they found out she had cancer,” Barney said. “He is very aggressive and has made the injury to her mouth worse than it should have been. He is only 3 years old, but he looks like he is 12.

“In the current atmosphere with animal rescue, there is a crisis across the country and there is a crisis here as well. Our local animal control has started euthanizing again due to space issues, and that’s something we haven’t seen in several years.”

Barney said he understands the reluctance some people have to foster a terminally ill animal, knowing the pet’s lifespan is short.

But for her, providing end-of-life care for these animals is a reward in itself.

“A lot of people say ‘I could never do that’ or ‘That would break my heart,’ but for me and other people who raise hospice dogs, those are the kind of animals that really need a home,” said Barney, who also fosters the health of dogs and cats. “It’s not so much knowing that this dog or cat has a limited number of days; that’s not where I put the value.

“It’s for the days they have left, letting them know someone loves them. My dog ​​knows that she is going to receive care and attention. She will have a good quality of life in whatever life she has left.”

The condition Clementine was found in only increases Barney’s commitment to lovingly care for her.

“She was in pretty bad shape when they found her,” Barney said. “They did a stray grab, and no one claimed her, and at that point we started addressing her medical issues with her mouth. She received some type of blunt force trauma to the side of her face.

“If someone hit her or something else happened, we don’t know. But she is a very sweet girl and she does not cause me any extra work. She is taking painkillers and antibiotics for the infection on her face. It makes me very sad that someone would hurt her or let her wander without knowing what happened to her.”

Clementine is Barney’s second hospice foster dog, following Lorretta, a yellow Lab she fostered earlier this year.

“She had developed a breast lump, which is pretty easy to remove, but whoever owned it let it get bigger to the point where it was the size of a bowling ball hanging from her abdomen,” Barney said. “It was in Clinton County, and it was February, and it was really cold, and they just tied her to the front door and left.

“We took her and removed the tumor, but it had grown so large that we could never get clean margins and it was consuming her. She no longer had quality of life and it was painful for her. We spent six weeks together and I made a wish list for her, so she went to events and schools for children, and she was such a sweet dog.”

Meanwhile, Erika Pratte is the executive director of Partners for Pets, located at 9136 Lower Marine Road in St. Jacob.

Pratte deals with sick or injured animals every day, and she is especially grateful to people like Barney who make those animals a part of their lives.

“We see a lot of people who will relinquish their pets when they get old or have health problems,” Pratte said. “We want to make sure that quality of life is there for any pet’s final days, and they deserve to know that someone fought for them.

“We have a willing hospice base that pampers you, loves you and makes you part of their family, whether it’s for one day, three weeks or seven months. It’s really touching and such a selfless act because those families know they’re getting into something they’re going to give their heart to just to have it broken.”

Pratte added that the temporary nature of raising a pet through hospice care can, however, create lifelong memories for a pet owner.

“It’s great to know that there are people who welcome these animals with open arms,” ​​Pratte said. “It takes a special person to accept a senior pet or a pet considered hospice due to heartbreak just around the corner.

“It’s an amazing thing to do for an unlucky animal that’s in animal control. You take them home and give them a cheeseburger and give them their own bed. It shows those animals that their lives matter, no matter how they got here.”

Barney has a friend on Facebook, Donna Crraag, who volunteers at Stray Rescue in St. Louis, and also has hospice foster dogs.

“Someone had shared her post and she has a hospice dog named Roger who has terminal stage 4 cancer,” Barney said. “I’ve been talking to Donna on Messenger and seeing if there’s anything she needs. Many people came up and donated food, treats, and toys for him.

“Clementine has to eat soft foods because of her mouth and the canned food she likes costs almost $4 a can twice a day and that got expensive. Many of my friends donated money or boxes of her favorite dog food and brought it to my house. That was very sweet of her, and Clementine has loved that food, and she takes her medication with that food.”

Barney added that Crraag told him he made an appointment Monday to put down his hospice dog, Roger. The procedure will probably take place on Tuesday.

Barney also does medical fostering, caring for animals that have been injured or have a variety of medical problems.

“That includes dogs that have been hit by cars or cats that are really sick,” Barney said. “That’s what Partners for Pets is known for, their willingness to take an animal that no one else would take.”

Finding homes for stray kittens is another priority for Partners for Pets, especially this time of year.

“We’re in the middle of kitten season right now and I got a call Sunday night from a lady in East Alton who had a stray kitten stuck in a water pipe on her property,” Barney said. “The city was able to get the kitten out and I took him in, and he seems to be fine.

“Partners for Pets also has a kitty named Smooshy. She and her brother were in Alton, had gotten on a construction crew and spent the night there. In the morning, when the team arrived at the site, they turned on the bulldozer or whatever, and she crushed and killed her brother immediately. She crushed Smooshy’s leg and punctured his lung, but he survived and had his leg amputated on Thursday. She is an animal that I would not hesitate to breed either.”

For more information about the foster dogs, senior pets, and other animals available for adoption at Partners for Pets, call 618-540-7387, visit, or visit Partners 4 Pets at Facebook.

Partners for Pets is open from 11 am to 4 pm Monday through Friday.

“We’re always looking for foster homes or just foster homes in general,” Pratte said. “We adopt senior pets or pets considered hospice, free of charge, to someone who can continue the quality of life for those animals. There are special people out there and we just have to reach out to them.”

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