Last Moments: Death and our Animal Companions

The Western Civ Dialogue Series presents:

Losing a pet is a somber and intense experience shared by scores and scores of people each year. In this discussion, panelists will examine the many issues that pet owners face when confronted with the decline of their animal companions. What medical actions are the most appropriate and compassionate at the end of an animal’s life? What moral and spiritual implications do people wrestle with when making these important decisions for their beloved pets? 

This panel discussion accompanies the “Last Moments” gallery show to be featured at St. Aidan's Episcopal Church (2425 Colorado Ave, across from engineering) in the Muriel Sibell Wolle Gallery from April 28 through June 23, 2019. “Last Moments” is a photo essay by award-winning photojournalist and CU Professor Ross Taylor exploring the intimacy of the human-animal bond--specifically, the moments before, and after, the passing of a pet at home with their owner.

Free parking for this event is available at St. Aidan's Episcopal Church (2425 Colorado Ave) about .2 mi east of Benson Earth Sciences. The Gallery is also open on Thursday, May 2 from 5-6 before the exhibit and there will be a reception after the panel discussion, 7:30-9pm at St. Aidan's.

Cheryl Abbate is a philosophy doctoral candidate at the University of Colorado, Boulder and a Visiting Teaching Professor at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. She is writing her dissertation on the philosophy of animals rights and has published several journal articles on this topic, including “Adventures in Moral Consistency: How to Develop an Abortion Ethic from an Animal Rights Framework” (Ethical Theory and Moral Practice), “How to Help when it Hurts: The Problem of Assisting Victims of Injustice” (Journal of Social Philosophy), “The Search for Liability in the Defensive Killing of Nonhuman Animals” (Social Theory and Practice). Having lived with cats for her entire life, Cheryl is especially interested in questions pertaining to feline well-being and the human-feline bond.

Fr. Dan Edwards grew up in rural Texas and attended the University of Texas for undergraduate and law schools. As an attorney with Colorado Rural Legal Services in Greeley, he represented migrant farmworkers for several years before moving to Idaho where he practiced law for a decade. He then attended General Theological Seminary where he received his M. Div. and an S. T. M. in spiritual direction. He later studied at Harvard Divinity School, Columbia Theological Seminary, and the Shalem Institute. Fr. Dan served as a parish priest in Macon, Georgia for over 17 years. He then served as Bishop of Nevada 2008—2018 before retiring to Colorado. He is the author of God Of Our Silent Tears, a book on how God responds to suffering. Dan Edwards is serving at St. Aidan's Episcopal Church during the sabbatical of the Rector, M. Mary Kate Rejouis, April-July 2019.

Jessica Pierce is a bioethicist and faculty affiliate at the Center for Bioethics and Humanities at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. She is the author of ten books, including The Last Walk: Reflections on Our Pets at the Ends of Their Lives and Run, Spot, Run: The Ethics of Keeping Pets and has published essays in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Guardian. She is a regular contributor to Psychology Today( Her website is Her newest book, Unleashing Your Dog: How to Give Your Canine Companion the Best Life Possible, with Marc Bekoff, is being released this spring by New World Library.

Ross Taylor is an assistant professor at the University of Colorado Boulder. Previously he was a visiting professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and the inaugural fellow with the Multimedia Photography and Design Department at Syracuse University. Taylor has won numerous national and international awards, including Photojournalist of the Year (Large Markets) by the National Press Photographers Association. His work in a trauma hospital in Afghanistan was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize. He’s also been named Northern Photographer of the Year, New England Photographer of the Year, Virginia Photographer of the Year and North Carolina Photographer of the Year (twice). 

Co-Sponsored By:
Center for Western Civilization, Thought & Policy (CWCTP)
St. Aidan's Episcopal Church

The gallery of Last Moments will have an Opening reception: Sunday, April 28 11:30 am to 1 pm at St. Aidan's

The Gallery is also open on Thursday, May 2 from 5-6 before the exhibit (and parking is free at St. Aidan's)

Closing Reception: After the panel discussion, 7:30-9pm at St. Aidan's.

Thursday, May 2 at 6:00pm to 7:30pm

Benson Earth Sciences, 180
2200 Colorado Avenue, Boulder, CO 80309

Event Type



New Students & Families


Students, Alumni, General Public

College, School & Unit

Arts & Sciences, Media, Communication and Information


Journalism, CMCI Featured Events



Free and Open to the Public

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