When you tell someone you work at Lollypop Farm, you are often met with a beaming smile. There are sweet memories shared of visiting the farm walk and pictures of pets now in loving homes. “You must LOVE going to work there every day.” And the truth is we do. We work with amazing people, and together we have achieved a save rate of over 91%. This statistic is a high standard in the animal welfare community. It’s a reflection of how our team works with our community to provide lifesaving, compassionate care to every pet in need.
Sadly though, on the worst days working at Lollypop Farm, sometimes our best effort isn’t enough. On those days, the word no one likes to mention gets used: euthanasia. Those days break our hearts. On the days when there is nothing left to do but do our best to provide compassionate care to end a pet’s suffering.
Lloyd, a15-year-old Halflinger, was surrendered to a Lollypop Farm Humane Law Enforcement Investigator in very rough condition. Farm and Equine staff got right to work and arranged to have a large animal veterinarian meet them at Lollypop Farm to check on Lloyd’s condition. With gentle hands and kind hearts, our team helped the veterinarian to perform an initial exam and comfort Lloyd through this stressful time.
Lloyd was skinny and there was little left of his right eye. It must have been damaged or even ruptured at some point in his life. As they examined, they found lumps around the eye that were abnormal, and then the veterinarian ran their hand down Lloyd’s face and found a mass.
There was a collective sigh from the group and a moment of silence. A biopsy would need to be taken. The group gave small smiles and reminded each other of the small hope that maybe it wasn’t cancer. Maybe it wouldn’t be too close to his brain. Maybe sweet Lloyd could still be saved.
For a week, we provided gentle loving care to Lloyd as we waited on labs. The results came: Lloyd’s condition was terminal, and Lloyd was in pain. The heartbreaking decision to humanely euthanize Lloyd was made. The days were long and filled with tears. But still, when faced with nothing left to do but alleviate his suffering, the equine team remained focused on what they could provide sweet Lloyd. He was showered with delicious treats of applesauce and pureed carrot. He was given sweet pats and head nuzzles and told what a good boy he had been. Our team did everything they could to make his last days the best days of his life. They even bought him some special peppermint mash, a special treat to enjoy before we had to say goodbye.
So yes, we love our jobs. We LOVE doing everything we can to provide lifesaving care and second chances to every animal who arrives at our door. But the truth is sometimes the best we can do is give an animal peace and an end to their suffering. We don’t like to talk about those heartbreaking days, because we worry that others might not understand or be angry.
But it’s important to talk about it. While there are days with happy tails wagging and kittens purring and horses playing in the paddocks, there are also sad days at Lollypop Farm. Where doing everything we can to help every pet get the care they need breaks our hearts.