New service offers in-home hospice care for family pets

SUBMITTED PHOTO Sunday Cozzi, left, and Nancy Rodriguez are the owners of Lap of Love for the CSRA.

Losing a pet can be a very difficult experience for many but two local women are offering a service in an effort to bring comfort to both people and their animals.

Nancy Rodriguez and Sunday Cozzi have recently joined Lap of Love, an organization of individuals with a veterinarian background who offer hospice care or at-home euthanasia.

Lap of Love has expanded to 40 different states and now, its services are available in the CSRA.

Cozzi graduated from the University of Tennessee's College of Veterinary Medicine and worked in a private practice for many years. She's seen many people frantically coming into the office in tears with a very old or terminally ill pet. They find themselves having to make the dreaded decision to let that pet go.

Knowing the stress and pain of the situation, Cozzi wondered if there was a way to make it a little easier on both the pet and the owner.

Rodriguez pursued a career in laboratory animal medicine and worked in an emergency animal clinic on the weekends during her residency. Over time, she wasn't as fulfilled with her work and wanted do to something different.

Cozzi and Rodriguez, both pet owners and Aiken residents, heard about Lap of Love. After looking into it, they felt it would be a good fit for them, as well as something that would be personally rewarding – to offer a peaceful solution to pet owners during a difficult time.

“To be able to provide this service at home is gratifying, because everyone is more comfortable at home,” Cozzi said.

Cozzi and Rodriguez, working with the family's veterinarian, will offer consultation by reviewing a pet's status as well as quality of life.

They come up with a plan of how to make the old or sick animal comfortable during its last days.

They also offer emergency services, responding to calls when the health of a pet unexpectedly takes a turn for the worse.

Rodriguez reflected on a friend whose dog was diagnosed with cancer. She told her friend to start cataloging memories and helped them plan for the difficult day.

When that day came, Rodriguez came over and the family gathered around their sick canine companion in his favorite spot – a screened-in porch overlooking the yard. The family consoled him before he quietly slipped away.

Rodriguez said it's a difficult situation to deal with, but they will do whatever they can to help the families make a decision when their pet is sick as well as cope with the loss.

“I think a lot of the time, people have a hard time determining when is the right time. It's a hard decision to make,” Rodriguez said. “We want to be there to help them with that transition.”

Cozzi and Rodriguez will offer assistance with aftercare and can have the pet cremated, if requested, at a licensed crematorium.

Anyone who may want to consult a grief counselor will be connected with one.

An impression of the paw print is also made as a small memento.

To contact Lap of Love for the CSRA, email at or call 994-9460.

To learn more about the service, visit and type in the area code.