Tampa & St. Petersburg
All services are provided in the comfort of your home.
Includes a brief examination by the veterinarian, a full assessment of your pet's quality of life, and a custom treatment plan to help you care for your pet and monitor their condition.
Includes a discussion with the veterinarian, medication to ensure comfort, gentle euthanasia, pawprint impression keepsake, lock of fur, and Lap of Love's Eternal Pawprints booklet. The additional cost for the varied cremation services are detailed in the Aftercare Pricing section.
Includes a brief examination by the veterinarian to help explain your pet's condition, discuss symptom management including pain and anxiety, and prepare an end of life care plan using the appropriate quality of life scale to manage your pet along with your family's needs and desires.
There may be an additional charge for extended travel (see Service Area below), holidays ($50 - $100), pets over 99 lbs, appointments outside normal business hours (when arranged), aggressive pets, and some exotic species.
Although we mainly see dogs and cats, some of our veterinarians can assist you with other species such as pigs, guinea pigs, rabbits, ferrets, birds, fish, and goats. Call for pricing and availability.
With this option, your pet is cremated privately at a licensed crematory. The ashes are contained in a lovely wooden urn with an engraved nameplate and will be returned to your primary care veterinarian within two weeks. They can also be made available directly from the crematory or mailed to your home or office.
This option is for families that don't wish to have their pet's ashes returned nor wish to bury at home. Pets are respectfully cremated with other pets at a licensed crematory and ashes are scattered by the crematory.
There may be a fee if additional assistance to safely carry your pet out of your home is needed.
We are here to answer your questions every day, from 7am - 11pm. Appointments are scheduled throughout the week, please call for availability.
Sometimes, pets take a turn for the worse overnight, so we do our best to accommodate same day appointments with a few hours notice when possible.
If this is a medical emergency, please contact your local veterinarian or one of the emergency clinics listed in the Local Resources section.
Let us introduce you to the amazing hospice veterinarians in your area.
Dani McVety, DVM
I’m often asked why I do what I do. Growing up I was surrounded by horses, cows, dogs, cats, birds, and various other animals, and I never thought I could put an animal to sleep. After almost a decade of education with hours spent in the veterinary school ICU, something changed. I wanted to be with those pets whose owners weren’t there to comfort them. I never wanted an animal to pass alone; I always thought how much warmer the experience would be if these animals were at home surrounded by family.
As an emergency veterinarian, I constantly witness owners' struggles as they are forced to make tough decisions quickly. They have no time to adjust to the life changing choices they are about to make, no time to come to terms with the acute illness or trauma that is completely unplanned. For many of these owners, all they want is time... even a few more hours. Lap of Love was born after witnessing a euthanasia in which the owner held tightly to her beloved dog, curled lovingly in her lap. It was such a beautiful sight, a woman and her companion sharing those last moments wrapped in each other. I knew I had to try to provide that opportunity to more people; it is what all owners and their pets deserve.
For me this is not a job, this is a calling. I do this because it is my gift to the animals I serve through my veterinary oath. I feel I have found my place in this vast veterinary world, quietly helping tighten the bond between owner and pet.
Nil Wilkins, DVM
Growing up in Oklahoma, Illinois and Maryland, we always had pet dogs and cats. For a time we lived on a farm where there were also chickens, cows, pigs and horses. I greatly enjoyed being around all animals.
So it was really no surprise that I wanted to become a veterinarian. Volunteering at a small animal practice while I was in high school confirmed this for me as I saw how helping animals helped their owners too, such is the human - animal bond.
After I graduated from the University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine, my husband and I made our home in Tampa, raising two daughters and a myriad of pets we fostered/adopted. These included puppies, kitties, birds, rabbits, guinea pigs and gerbils. After graduation I worked in private practice for many years. Then to help homeless animals in the community, I worked at two animal shelters. While I found both private practice and shelter medicine to be very rewarding, working with Lap of Love is exceptionally gratifying. Nowhere is the strength of the bond between owners and their pets more visible, touching and heartwarming than during end of life care.
Currently our family includes 5 cats: 3 that we fostered and adopted from an animal shelter, another we adopted from the same animal shelter and a neighbor's cat that adopted us!
I feel so fortunate to be a part of such a compassionate group of individuals providing comfort and support during this time; for no matter how long our pets are a part of our lives, it's never long enough.
Jade Tenberg, DVM
A lifelong love for animals inspired my veterinary career. My first word was “Farrah,” the name of my Siberian Husky sister from my early childhood. Caring for our dogs and cats, riding horses and ponies, and living on a farm in Bucks County, a Philadelphia suburb, were my fondest childhood memories.
My best friend during my challenging teenage years was Rhiannon, a very hyper Rottweiler. We did everything together: hiking the Appalachian Trail, swimming in the nearby creek, and even taking naps! Unfortunately, she injured her back leg and required surgery, but most tragic of all was her being diagnosed with bone cancer in one of her front legs. Her quality of life rapidly declined, and my family decided to give her the ultimate gift: a peaceful passing in our family room, surrounded by love. I was with her the whole time, and afterwards my parents buried her between some beautiful rose bushes in front of our horse barn. It was not long afterwards that I decided to become a veterinarian.
After completing a Bachelors of Science degree in biology in my hometown at Delaware Valley University, I moved to Baton Rouge to earn a Doctorate of Veterinary Medicine at the Louisiana State University School of Veterinary Medicine. Upon graduation, I moved to Las Vegas and entered general practice. I experienced both corporate and private practices in Nevada and Louisiana, but I felt like something was missing. I wanted to be able to do more for pets.
First, I studied acupuncture at the Chi Institute in Gainesville. Then, I explored the field of end-of-life care and realized it was my calling. I moved to the Tampa area and proudly joined Lap of Love. I am thrilled to work with such a compassionate and dedicated team of professionals, and I am honored to provide exceptional care to the pets and people who need us.
Jordy Merrifield, DVM
I was always one of those bright-eyed kids that said she was going to grow up to be an animal doctor. I made splints for stuffed animals out of paper towels, popsicle sticks, and tape and I always brought my dog for show and tell. I’ve been labeled the crazy dog girl (now lady) for as long as I can remember. So I guess the only one who was surprised when I graduated from vet school was me, because I had finally accomplished my life-long goal.
I grew up in a little house in Phoenix, Arizona where animals were part of the family. I went to Arizona State University for my undergraduate degree in Biology. I moved out east after marrying my college sweetheart and attended the University of Florida for veterinary school. The two most important lessons I learned in vet school were 1) You can’t know all the answers, but you can get really good at looking things up and 2) Every pet comes in with a human who cares about it. I've found the most fulfilling, and perhaps most challenging, part of this job relates to the latter.
I was drawn to this job because of my personal experience with the loss of my childhood pets. My first dog, Schatzi was a surprise gift for my 5th birthday. We shared 17 beautiful years together and Schatzi unexpectedly passed while I was away from home during college. Years later, I still find myself thinking about that day and wishing that I could have been holding her in my arms when she left this earth. Every pet deserves to feel safe and loved when it’s their time to go.
Although every appointment experience will be as unique as my patient, I strive daily to provide the best possible experience for both my patients and their pet parents. When I'm not working, you can find me with my husband and our four fur-kids at our home in Tampa. We enjoy outdoor activities with the dogs, great food, good company, and the occasional Netflix binge..
I would love the opportunity to provide you with the most peace of mind and comfort possible during what is inevitably one of the hardest days of your life. I feel called to relieve suffering and feel honored by those that ask me to be a part of their experience.
Lisa Littlejohn, DVM
When I was a little girl, I aspired to be many things—a hair dresser and a pizza maker among those. In high school, I started working at a local animal hospital as a receptionist. With time, I eventually moved into the kennel and started working hands-on with the animals. I quickly developed a love for dogs and cats and always wanted to know how to make them better. During those years, I became a veterinary technician and decided being a veterinarian was my dream job. I set my sights on the University of Florida for both undergraduate and veterinary school. In 2005, I graduated with a Bachelor’s degree. In 2010, I attained my goal and graduated from the College of Veterinary Medicine.
Since graduation, I have been in General Practice and have gravitated towards end-of-life care. There is something so unique and special about our four-legged family members. They give us the unconditional love that we all want and need. For us, they may be a small piece of our life. But for them, we are their WHOLE world. I feel helping that loved one pass in the clinic doesn’t provide them with the respect and love they deserve. Instead, it should be a peaceful, calm and pain-free passing in a comfortable place surrounded by the ones they love the most. I am truly honored to help you and your loved ones through this difficult time.
“At the end of the day, when we leave this world, the only valuable legacy we leave behind is the love we gave to others and the love others gave to us."
Amanda Esposito, DVM
I have been an animal lover for as long as I can remember! When I was 5 years old, I became obsessed with the movie 101 Dalmatians. Every Christmas, I begged Santa for a Dalmatian (101 of them, to be exact). When I was 9, my parents let me pick out my very own Dalmatian puppy. I named him Lucky, and was fortunate to grow up with and love him over the next 12 years.
I adopted my first cat, Spartacus, from a man with a box of kittens outside of a grocery store. My sweet boy was by my side from elementary school until I graduated vet school. Sadly, weeks before I began my career as a veterinarian, I said goodbye after his long struggle with a chronic illness.
I grew up in Tampa, Florida, attended the University of South Florida, and graduated with a degree in Biomedical Science. I always considered becoming a veterinarian, but it wasn’t until I began working part-time as a veterinary assistant, that I truly knew it was my calling. I attended Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine in St. Kitts, and completed my clinical training at the University of Florida.
I particularly love senior pets and am passionate about providing them with the best quality of life possible. It is never easy to say goodbye to our beloved family members, but I believe it is truly a selfless gift to end their pain and suffering. There is nothing greater than the unconditional love of an animal and I am honored to facilitate a peaceful passing at home, surrounded by loved ones.
Loren Gassler, DVM
As a native Floridian born and raised in Tampa, Florida, attending Busch Gardens adventure camp was the highlight of my summer. Working with the animals thrilled me, but what I loved most was connecting with them. From this connection, I developed a strong appreciation and respect for the human/animal bond. My passion for animals grew as I attended camp for eight years and helped care for a menagerie of family pets including a dog, rabbit, iguana, sugar glider, turtle, and numerous gerbils and fish. I realized that I not only wanted to work with animals, I wanted to treat them.
My quest to become a veterinarian led me to Auburn University, where I earned a Zoology degree in 2007, followed by my doctorate at Mississippi State University in 2011. After graduation, I practiced in San Antonio, Texas for four years before returning home to Tampa.
I was in high school the first time I witnessed a pet being euthanized. It was my first day volunteering at a veterinary hospital, and a very sweet Dalmation was diagnosed with bone cancer. Due to the aggressive nature of the disease and the dog's decreased quality of life, the vet recommended euthanasia. I wanted to be brave for his parents, so I fought back tears and repeated “it’s what’s best for the pet” over and over in my head. These words have become my mantra and are the foundation upon which I practice medicine.
While veterinarians are needed throughout a pet’s life, I believe we are most needed in times of illness and injury. My calling as a vet is to support and advocate for my patients in their greatest time of need. I strive to give your furry family member the high quality of life he or she deserves and to ensure the best possible experience for you both when it’s time to say good-bye.
When I’m away from the “office,” I love spending time with my wonderful husband and our family of six furry children. We have two domestic short haired cats (Dolce and Duncan), a terrier mix named Rusty, a cairn terrier named Scooter, and a chihuahua named Dixie. They are a fun, goofy group of best friends that light up my world every day. I also enjoy cheering on the Bucs, Lightning, and Rays and attending theatre at the Straz Center.
Maggie Doley, DVM
I have been a veterinarian for about 10 years. I grew up in Williamsburg, VA, and attended the University of Virginia where I earned my degree in Biology. I started my career as a middle school science teacher and later attended Virginia Tech to become a veterinarian. I’ve always loved science, animals and working with people.
Before going to vet school, I spent 6 months in Africa working with AIDs patients. That experience compelled me to further my interest in medicine so I could help others. I feel that education and medicine are closely related, as a large part of what a veterinarian does is educate people. I love the relationships that I am able to build with families when helping them take care of their furry kids.
Before I became a veterinarian, I lost my own childhood golden retriever. I remember how difficult it was and how helping her transition as peacefully and painlessly as possible was of the utmost importance. I am so grateful that I can help others do the same.
When I’m not working, I enjoy spending time with my son and our cat and dog. We love going to the beach, traveling and exploring all of the amenities that are available in the Tampa Bay area that we adore so much.
Merari Cruz, DVM
I was born and raised in Puerto Rico, and moved to Central Florida in my teen years where I finished High School. I attended the University of Florida for undergraduate studies in Animal Science and French, and was a participant in the summer abroad program in Avignon, France. In 2003, I moved back to the Caribbean to attend Ross University School of Veterinary Medicine. For my clinical year, I was lucky to be back at UF once again, I’m a Gator at heart! Go Gators! Since graduation, I started my veterinary career in small animal general practice in St. Petersburg. In my free time I enjoy visiting family in Orlando, playing at the park with my wonderful dog Amelia, and enjoy the best of the gulf coast: sun & sand! People ask me how I can do my job; animals can’t tell us what is wrong or where it hurts. I love the challenge. I have to play detective every day and use the clues I find to solve the cases and treat my patients. That’s why I do it, I love it! Working with Lap of Love Veterinary Hospice is a great honor and privilege. I believe the human-animal bond is as strong as it is important in our lives. I treat every patient as my own and provide the end of life care that they deserve and that owners want for their little ones.
As a child growing up in Egypt and Turkey, we always had many pets in our home. My favorite furry friend was a cat who I named Tiffany, after the iconic movie starring Audrey Hepburn. I was always fascinated by animals and loved playing “doctor” to our many dogs, cats and rabbits, so I made it my goal to become a veterinarian.
I graduated college and was accepted into the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Cairo University, which is a full-time, five-year program. Soon after graduating, I landed my first job at Advanced Care Veterinary Hospital, the first American veterinary hospital in Egypt. I worked there and did post-graduate studies for eight wonderful years until I moved to the United States.
A new chapter of my life began in Pennsylvania, where I completed additional studies, earned my American veterinary license and found work at a veterinary clinic. Another move brought me to warm and wonderful Florida, where I proudly joined Lap of Love.
I know first-hand what a heart-wrenching experience it is it lose a pet. I look forward to helping pets and their families find comfort and serenity when they need it most.
Erica Unz, DVM
I have been an animal advocate for as long as I can remember, and I was fortunate to have a family that really embraced my passion for furry and feathered creatures. I grew up south of Chicago, and have since lived on both the East and West coasts, as well as everywhere in between. I volunteered/worked in veterinary clinics and animal shelters for the majority of my pre-vet life, so I was pretty confident that being in this profession was for me. However, my path to vet school was not a straight one. My previous careers include working as an EMT on the ambulance, as well as in the emergency room, and as a licensed massage therapist. I earned my veterinary degree from Mississippi State University, where I enjoyed working with all species, but was known as one of those “cat ladies.” I spend a lot of time traveling overseas, and aspire to one day start a high volume spay and neuter program for cats and dogs, that can be shared with other countries. I currently live with two cats, Little Girl and Samson, and I also have a horse, Daisy, who is truly the love of my life.
I have sent several of my own animals over the Rainbow Bridge, and I understand how hard end of life care can be. I am passionate about the services we provide at Lap of Love, and I am honored to have the opportunity to help our clients navigate these difficult times. Everyone knows that veterinarians love animals, but it is the people behind those animals that make our job so very special.
Dani McVety, DVM
"There are simply no words to adequately describe our experience with Dr. Loren. She greeted us with hugs and spent time with our other two pets. She was so kind and gentle with Roxy and guided her to the Rainbow Bridge with such compassion and peace. She gave us all the time we needed to say goodbye to sweet Roxy. Dr. Loren is truly a gift, and we were so incredibly fortunate that she came into our home to help us through this heart-breaking time."
Chris WilsonClearwater, Florida
"Our Kizmet was 13.5 years old and through out her life she brought so many people joy, but particularly her own people. We got her from a friend when she was just 8 weeks old and she instantly gravitated to my son who was 11 at the time. She loved chasing squirrels, lizards and guarding the kitchen while was cooking, in anticipation of some scrap hitting the floor. We discovered around 6 weeks ago that she had a tumor in her belly and I knew I wouldn't do anything medically significant to intervene. My goal was to keep her comfortable and felt like she would let me know when she couldn't keep up any longer. She went down hill fast and I was left to make this decision quickly because it was unbearable to watch her suffer. My vet gave me the brochure for Lap of Love and also a friend recommended them as well. We lucked out with Dr. Lisa, from the moment she entered our home, her compassion and empathy with our pain was so comforting. She explained the procedure and treated us all as if we were her family, most especially Kizmet. The experience was as positive as it could be in this kind of circumstance. I would recommend anyone who has to make this end of life decision to include Lap of Love. Their guidance and compassion is exactly what helps in a stressful situation like letting go of one of your furry family members. Thank you from my heart, Dr. Lisa."
Amy HiltonHudson, Florida
"The compassion and kindness that Dr. Lisa showed to us made it easier to say Good Bye to Rambo.
She took the time to take us through each step. Dr. Lisa's was so nice and gentle that we felt more at ease with out decision.
Thank you, Dr. Lisa for what you do."
Carol and Roger TrautmanBrooksville, Florida
"At the end of April, our 13 and half year old Shib Inu, Kumiko, started succumbing to her heart issues. Her kidneys had been working hard on diuretics to remove excess fluid, and they had begun to fail. Within a week we were faced with the terrible choice of having to end our beloved girl's life. We setup the appointment for 6:30 on Saturday, the 6th of May, and we prepared ourselves for it. Kumiko, however, had a seizure and passed on her own about 4 hours before our appointment. Dr. Jade arrived as scheduled and lovingly treated our girl with the care we had hoped for when choosing Lap of Love. She kindly made Kumiko's paw print and trimmed off a lock of hair. Then she brought in the stretcher and gently wrapped her in a blanket and took her away. Dr. Jade was wonderful through the whole process and we were grateful for what she did for us. We never felt rushed and had the time to truly say goodbye. When the day comes for our other Shiba to pass, we won't hesitate to call on Lap of Love, and Dr. Jade. They made a terribly painful event as tolerable as you could hope for. Thanks Dr. Jade - Richard and Meredith."
Richard PritchettOdessa, Florida
"There was extreme anticipation and anxiety with the arrival of Dr. Loren. Having never been through this situation, unaware of what to expect on top of it being a heartbreaking event; there is little head space to offer on being present for the new doctor coming to your home. Dr. Loren was everything we needed that day to get us through this experience. She has a remarkable gift and she just gets it. She sat with us, was a human, and she provided reassurance when it was needed yet not requested. Thank you for supporting us on this difficult day."
Christie LaydenWesley Chapel, Florida
"I just want to say how professional and kind Dr. Lisa was. I was obviously very upset and emotional. during the entire ordeal.
Dr. Lisa was kind, caring, gentle and most of all she made me feel SHE CARED!
This is isn't the first pet I have lost but as always I was very lost emotionally.
Thank you Dr. Lisa!
Sincerely and Respectfully,
James F. Friedrichs"
James FriedrichsWeeki Wachee, Florida
Pet Life and Loss Support Services
Lap of Love's Pet Life & Loss Support Group
BluePearl Veterinary Specialist
Tampa Bay Vet Emergency Services
Tampa Bay Vet Specialist in Largo
Pinellas Animal Foundation
Hillsborough Animal Health Foundation; pet loss grief support
Bentley's House; pet loss group in Sarasota
Helping families in the following areas:
Proudly serving the Tampa/St Petersburg area including:
Extended Travel Areas (additional charge applies to these areas):
Preferred methods of payment are check (made to 'Lap of Love') or cash.
Most pet insurance companies cover Lap of Love services. Please have any paperwork ready for the veterinarian to complete so that you can submit it for reimbursement.
Lap of Love17804 US Highway 41Lutz, FL 33549
Fox 13 News: Veterinarian brings peace to pets with in-home euthanasia
Communities Digital News: Transitioning with Love: The Rainbow Bridge
Anderson McQueen Radio: Saying Goodbye to a Beloved Companion
See more HERE
This Lap of Love location is owned and operated by Dr. Dani McVety.