SMITHS STATION, Ala. (WRBL) – The love of a good dog, cat, or other furry family member is one of life’s greatest blessings. This sentiment is a treasured fact at Smiths Station Animal Hospital. When the end of life is near, the staff at the Lee County, Alabama vet clinic understand the sudden loss of a pet’s unconditional love can be devastating and difficult to manage.

This week, the veterinary hospital posted a picture of a jar of Hersey Kisses called “Goodbye Kisses” – the picture included this message from Dr. Nicole Namie saying, “This jar is reserved for our euthanasia appointments…because no dog should go to Heaven without tasting chocolate.“

The clinic’s post and gentleness towards families and their pets connected with animal lovers worldwide, who know while chocolate isn’t good for dogs, at the end of their life, it’s a bittersweet last treat. The post has been shared nearly 100,000 times, and the love is growing.

Dr. Namie spoke with News 3 about the overwhelming response, saying the practice of offering treats and snacks to their euthanasia patients is one they’ve  been doing forever.  

“We try to provide as much comfort as possible during a terribly difficult and emotional time.  My staff has always kept little snacks and candy bars tucked away specifically for those appointments. Typically, these are treats that I wouldn’t recommend giving to my patients, but in their final moments I think it’s important to offer them something special.  It isn’t a service that clients expect or anticipate, but they really seem to appreciate.  They seem to find comfort in knowing their pets are going to Heaven with a full belly and love in their hearts,” said Dr. Namie.

If the weather is nice, Dr. Namie says the clinic will help families set up an outside picnic to spend their final moments with their family member. 

“Our clients and patients are like family.  So when we lose a patient, we really take it to heart as if we’re losing one of our own.  We recognize that they’re saying “goodbye” to a member of their family; in some cases, a family member that has been around longer than a decade.  It’s a pet that their kids have grown up with and they’ve made a decade of memories with. Electing to euthanize a pet is an incredibly vulnerable time.  In many cases, it’s the first time kids have had to say goodbye to someone they’ve loved,” said Dr. Namie.

In the veterinarian field, Dr. Namie believes compassion fatigue has become an epidemic. The Smiths Station Animal Hospital says making a family’s final moments with their pet memorable doesn’t take much and it goes a long way.  The clinic is hopeful more vet offices will start doing “Goodbye Kisses” and renew a sense of compassion and community.