As more and more people regard their pets as family members, the decision to “put them to sleep” at the end of their lives or because of incurable illness becomes increasingly difficult. Now a Charlotte veterinarian, Dr. Julie Reck, has launched a new in-home pet euthanasia service called Home Farewell (www.homefarewell.com). To help people make the difficult decision to end their pet’s life, she has also published a new book, “Facing Farewell – How and When to Decide Euthanasia for Your Pet” (www.facingfarewell.com). She’ll be signing copies of her book and answering questions at the Pet Expo at Cabarrus Arena in Concord on May 8. “I had numerous requests for in-home euthanasia while in a private small animal practice in Charlotte,” she explained. “My husband Matt and I formed Home Farewell to serve pets and their owners throughout the Charlotte area. While it is a difficult calling, I am truly dedicated to relieving animals’ suffering in the comfort of their home or bed.” A recent client, Gloria Shamblin, recounted her experience this way: “When faced with the best way to put an end to my cat Flower’s 48 hours of increasing suffering that had become unbearable, I knew that taking her to the animal hospital, with its deafening cacophony of barking dogs, meowing cats, telephones, and strangers’ voices, made more frightening by the smells and the 15-minute trip in the car, was only an option of last, desperate resort. Through my veterinarian, I eventually found my way to Dr. Julie Reck and her pet euthanasia service called ‘Home Farewell.’ “She was in my home in less than an hour, calming me, examining Flower, comforting us both,” Shamblin continued. “She examined Flower and discussed with me her findings. There were no time constraints that would be found in a crowded vet’s office with emergencies waiting. I could be fully present without inhibitions or constraints. From Flower, there was no crying, no wild-eyed fear or desperation, and this freed me from guilt. We were home and love was in this quiet, familiar place.” “Being at home allows the owners and other family members to express their feelings freely,” Dr. Reck explained. “Naturally there are often tears and crying. Many people would not feel free to let go at a vet’s office. The emotional release helps the healing process, so we feel it’s a good thing that our clients are free to do that with us.” Unless the owners prefer to handle burial or cremation themselves, Dr. Reck takes the deceased animal from the home to a local cremation service, which later returns the pet’s ashes to the owners. Dr. Reck was drawn to animals at an early age. She was born into a family dedicated to serving the U.S. Army and moved approximately every two years of her childhood. “Frequent moving and painful goodbyes with friends, made the family’s four-legged members one the few constants in my childhood,” she recalled. “Strong relationships with our family’s collies and horses taught me the importance of the human-animal bond.” The time she spent with animals in her childhood inspired her to become a doctor devoted to helping animals. Upon graduating high school, she enrolled at Virginia Tech where she pursued a degree in veterinary medicine. Her hard work was rewarded with an early acceptance to Virginia Tech’s College of Veterinary Medicine. She was the second youngest student accepted in the history of the college. She received her doctorate in veterinary medicine in May 2007. “After receiving my degree, I searched the country for an ideal area to practice veterinary medicine,” she said. “Born in Georgia, I felt a strong connection to the South and chose Charlotte. I began my career practicing small animal medicine and surgery in a local vet clinic. In March 2009, I was given the opportunity to work with the Humane Society of Charlotte in the mornings. This frees me up to provide Home Farewell services in the afternoons and early evenings.” More information about Dr. Reck, Home Farewell, and her book can be found at www.homefarewell.com.