A Haven For Sick Pets

Animals undergoing treatment for cancer and other diseases at the Washington State University Veterinary Hospital now have a place to rest with their owners beside them after a day's treatment.

The Lucas House began boarding pets and their owners in September. Some owners travel to Pullman from afar to get treatments for their animals.

"It's a traumatic time, so this helps owners go through what they are going through," says Carmel Travis, who runs the Lucas House in the basement of her home in rural Pullman.

Travis, an associate broker with DRA Real Estate in Pullman, operates the Lucas House single-handedly.

She created a place for sick pets to come home with their owners after realizing how fortunate she was to be able to bring Lucas, her 15-year-old Sheltie, home each evening after his treatments. Lucas died of chronic kidney failure last December.

"I came up with the idea based on what I would have wanted if I were going through this."

Lucas House features rooms with a private entrance and bathroom and bedrooms with linoleum floors for ease of cleaning. Pets undergoing treatments such as chemotherapy often have accidents.

Cats, dogs and their owners are welcome to stay for $25 per night for the duration of their treatments. Proof of vaccination is required for the pet.

Twenty percent of proceeds are donated to local animal groups such as the Pullman Animal Shelter, the Humane Society of the Palouse and the Good Samaritan Fund at WSU's veterinary hospital.

In September, Karen Scott brought the family dog, Zander, to Pullman from Dayton, Mont. "It was such a pleasure to have a place to relax," she said in a thank-you letter to Travis.

Before the Lucas House opened, pet owners who traveled to the Palouse had little option but to return to a motel for the night without their pets. Even motels that accepted pets were not equipped to deal with the special needs of many of the animals, according to a hospital news release.

The name Lucas House was chosen to honor the memory of the dog who loved to eat ice cream upon completing the climbs up Kamiak Butte.

His favorite flavor was French vanilla.

"Lucas was a gentleman," Travis says. "He was so polite, probably because I raised him since he was 6 months old."

Levi, a 6 1/2-year-old Sheltie, playfully greets guests, regardless of whether they stand on two or four legs.

He has taken on the role of "official guest greeter" at the Lucas House.

Pets are free to roam around the place and dogs can use the outdoor run for exercise.

An exercise area and a library with books on animal behavior are available for pet owners.

Travis would like to see the Lucas House idea catch on in other cities with veterinary hospitals.

Along with offering a nurturing environment for sick pets. Travis takes time to comfort their human companions.

"They can sit and talk with me. I think my experience is one of the best thingI can offer people."

Those who want to stay with their pets scheduled for treatment at the WSU Veterinary Teaching Hospital may call Travis at (509) 332-5204.

Animals and their owners are taken on a first-come, first-served basis, and those interested are asked to call in advance.

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