Animal Hospice Group Founder
( Pictured here with Bunny )
Michelle’s passion for her life’s work in animal hospice began when her beloved Boxer Brodie, a cardiomyopathy patient of 5 years, entered the end of life. She and her family debated whether to return to the veterinary clinic where further treatment was no longer beneficial or, should she allow him to guide the way to a peaceful passing, in their home and where he could be surrounded by those he loved?
With her human hospice nurse mother’s guidance, she was able to recognize the benefits of hospice principles for animals and chose the latter. She realized that she had been delivering hospice care for Brodie without even knowing it!
Michelle discovered and then quickly became involved in the growing Animal Hospice and Palliative Care movement. Through knowledge gleaned from her professional counseling toolbox, she could help caregivers via education and support, from interdisciplinary team members working alongside the veterinary care team.
Through her nonprofit the Animal Hospice, End of Life, and Palliative Care Project or AHELP Project, founded in 2010, Michelle has been able to promote human hospice ideals to support animals and their family caregivers in the animal end-of-life experience.
Through their mission to first help achieve comfort for the animal, they companion families in their journey, helping them examine their choices and then empower them to act on their carefully constructed end-of-life care plan when the appropriate times come.
Prior to her personal journey into animal hospice and palliative care, Michelle had over 10 years of experience in human healthcare counseling, practicing interdisciplinary teamwork. She was on the Board of the International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care for six years, then became their President in 2019. For IAAHPC, she began the Volunteer Relations Committee and was a member of the Certification Task Force. She has presented at several IAAHPC conferences on the value of the interdisciplinary team in this emerging field and how her AHELP nonprofit model offers a practical approach to reach more families with animal hospice and palliative care services.
Education & Associations
- B.S. Biology, B.A. Psychology, (Chapman College, Orange CA)
- M.S. Genetic Counseling (Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University)
- International Association of Animal Hospice and Palliative Care
- National Association of Professional Women
"Many people without good end-of-life education avoid the topic of death, and may even fear it. Caregiver support is intended to address this societal issue by giving people the information, resources, and emotional support that they need most. With this support, animal caregivers can build a first choice plan, then back up plans, and ultimately forge their “path of least regrets”. In our collective experience, practical tips, tools, and resources will empower Caregivers to help their furry, feathered, or scaled family members and make the best decisions for their entire family at the appropriate times."
~ Michelle Nichols, AHG Founder