Brad Bates, VMD

People often ask me why I do what I do. For me, the ability to help pets and their loving families through a difficult time, and in doing so provide more comfort for everyone involved, is more than enough reason. It is a huge honor to help pets spend their last days or weeks or even months in more comfort, and with their families by their side. Everyone speaks of the difficulty of providing hospice care, but for me it is never difficult. Each and every pet and family I help shows me a deeper appreciation for the human animal bond. I feel the love between a family and a pet every time I step into a new home. It is a wonderful thing to be a part of, and to make a difficult situation better is exactly the reason I became a veterinarian. 

I received my veterinary degree from the University of Pennsylvania. Although I have experience in a wide array of small animal care, end-of-life and hospice care has truly been a calling for me. I'm so grateful that I can share my experience and understanding to you.

Like most veterinarians, my home consists of many pet children: I have 3 cats and a chinchilla. Like most pet parents, I understand the fear involved when they are sick. The fear of not knowing what to do, how to help, what is too much and most importantly when is it an appropriate time to let them pass peacefully. These are tough decisions, and you need the assistance of someone that will focus on you and your pet specifically. I offer the service I would want in return when those sad days happen to me. Being at home, surrounded by loved ones, and a peaceful goodbye.

One thing I’ve learned after being blessed with such great pets in the past, is that you have to enjoy the time you have with them. Time is less important than quality of time. I remember my little Laker. He was a sickly kitten, born with FeLV infection. He was sick with a severe respiratory infection due to his diminished immune system. His mother had to push him away from the litter. I cared for him and nursed him to health and he became a happy healthy kitten. But at aged 2 he developed lymphoma secondary to FeLV. Poor Laker was quite sick and I tried to help. But there was no medicine that could make him better. Once I thought his quality of life was diminishing and not improving, I let him pass peacefully with the help of my colleague. It was the most difficult day of my life, and that time was the most difficult time of my life to this day, and probably forever. But the thought of him suffering or becoming sicker was worse. I thank the stars every day that I was able to let him pass peacefully before he suffered to death.  He will be in my heart forever.

Spoil your pets and enjoy the laughs they bring when they are silly. Honor and remember them when they have passed. I never think of the day I will be without my pets. It helps that every day they make me laugh and smile. 

Dr. Brad - In the News:

Abigail Shearin, VMD, PhD

I have wanted to be a veterinarian for as long as I could remember and it was never a stronger calling than when having to make the difficult decision to euthanize one of my family’s beloved pets. As a teenager, I bottle-raised a sick puppy who had many congenital defects that eventually led to the decision to euthanize. He was my puppy and at the age 14 years old, it was my decision. That was one of the hardest days of my life, but it was never clearer to me that veterinary medicine was the right path.  A peaceful passing, surrounded by their loved ones, is one of the greatest gifts we can give our pets when they are struggling. Now, through Philadelphia’s chapter of Lap of Love, I am proud to offer this as an in-home service, making it that much more loving, peaceful and meaningful. 

During my training to become a veterinarian, I also received a PhD studying Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. This led to a deeper understanding of the management of chronic diseases and evoked a number of critical questions regarding quality of life. Our pets are often too stoic for us to detect when there is an underlying disease and they can sometimes fail rapidly, even with medical interventions. 

Currently, I have two cats who require significant care for their chronic health issues. This has further deepened my understanding of the emotional resources that come with managing chronic diseases. Eventually these diseases will lead to a poor quality of life for one of my own, and one again, I will be faced with the decision of when to euthanize. It brings me a great sense of peace and reassurance that when this time comes, my cats won’t suffer and they will pass quietly in my arms at home.

I look forward to offering that same peace to pet families by enabling my patients to pass as stress-free as possible at home. I am honored to provide these services to the pets of loving owners in Philadelphia and parts of New Jersey.

Anne Mitchell, VMD

I grew up in Chester County and have lived here all of my life. My aspiration to become a veterinarian began at an early age, as did my tendency to collect pets (dogs, fish, birds, hamsters, and eventually cats and horses also). I spent many wonderful years working as a veterinary technician prior to making the decision to apply to vet school. I completed my undergraduate work at West Chester University then proceeded on to University of Pennsylvania for my veterinary degree. Since graduation, I have spent most of my time working in general medicine at a private practice in Montgomery County, prior to joining Lap of Love. 

My first dog as an adult was a young rescue German Shepherd who taught me so much about veterinary medicine and the human-animal bond. We were together for almost 14 amazing years before he earned his wings with me by his side. Allowing him to pass peacefully was one of the most difficult life choices I ever had to make but it was also one of the most important decisions. I was able to give him the gift of a planned, pain-free journey.

I am honored to have the opportunity to join Lap of Love and I hope to help you and your loved ones through those difficult times.

Samantha Souther, DVM

I have wanted to be a veterinarian for as long as I can remember. From career day in 4th grade, when I wheeled in a wagon of bandaged stuffed animals, all the way through the rigors of veterinary school, animals have always been my passion. I received my veterinary degree from Western University of Health Sciences in California. After veterinary school, I completed a one year rotating internship at an emergency and specialty hospital in San Diego, where I found my calling in hospice care and helping patients with special needs.

During my work as an emergency veterinarian, I was confronted with hard cases and very sick pets. I was drawn to helping the sickest of pets towards the end of their lives. My pets are my family, and I realized my dream was to help other families through hard times with their fur children. Allowing a family member to pass is never an easy decision, but I realized my role as a veterinarian is to help these special pets live comfortably until their time and to pass with dignity. I want to be there to help your family navigate these hard times and decide when the time is right for you and your pet. And I want to help your pet pass in dignity, at home, for their comfort and yours. While it is never easy, I believe one of the most beautiful gifts we can give our pet is to let them pass peacefully at home, surrounded by loved ones. Trips to the vet can be hard on some of our pets, but it is a true honor to be able to come into their home, where they are at ease, and help them pass at peace.

As part of Lap of Love, I want to make difficult times as stress-free as possible and strengthen the bond between you and your pet through their last moments. In addition to helping families as a Lap of Love doctor, I am completing a veterinary residency at the University of Pennsylvania, working with pediatrics and difficult genetics cases. I live in Philadelphia with my husband and our two fur-babies, Maddy, our Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, and Agouti, our rescue cat.