New Professional Society to Advance Veterinary Hospice and Palliative Care

A new organization has been founded to advance the practice and knowledge of veterinary hospice and palliative care through professional education, community engagement and research. Page Yaxley, DVM, DACVECC, and Katherine Goldberg, DVM, veterinarians with long-standing commitments to hospice and palliative care have established the Veterinary Society for Hospice and Palliative Care, the first hospice organization for veterinarians and the development of the specialty.

“We are focused on the forward momentum of this field, which sees humane, dignified end-of-life veterinary care as an integral part of overall wellness,” says Yaxley, assistant professor in the Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences at Michigan State University College of Veterinary Medicine and founder of the College’s Veterinary Hospice Service.

Yaxley launched MSU’s Hospice Service in 2011 and it remains one of only two hospice programs at colleges of veterinary medicine. In addition to providing palliative care and hospice services to patients in Michigan, Yaxley has presented at veterinary professional meetings across the country and has seen the growing interest in the field.

Yaxley and Goldberg met in 2012 at a hospice conference in California. They share a vision of educating veterinary professionals, students, and community members in the areas of bond-centered geriatric support, palliative, and hospice care. 

“The specialty includes medical care and a respect for the unique relationship between animals and their caregivers,” says Goldberg, founder of one the very few veterinary practices in the country exclusively focused on geriatrics, hospice, and palliative care.

In the last few years, palliative and hospice care have expanded exponentially and are emerging as a distinct discipline of veterinary medicine. Goldberg and Yaxley launched the Society because they believe it is time to offer advanced training and education to ensure the veterinary profession continues to advance knowledge and practice in the discipline, which requires a broad-based approach that includes geriatric medicine, pain management, critical care, and complementary therapies for patients, as well as educating and guiding people through patient care and the end-of-life process.

The organization’s mission statement is “to advance veterinary medical knowledge, professional education, community engagement, and research in hospice and palliative care.” The pair also see the Society as an organization where veterinary practitioners can learn, educate, and work together to lay the groundwork for the establishment of a recognized veterinary specialty.

For more information visit Michigan State University’s website page.

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