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jca's avatar

People who have or who currently work at a vet's office: How do you and other staff deal with your own emotions when people bring in their pets to euthanize?

Asked by jca (28403 points ) July 9th, 2011

When people bring in pets that may not be that sick, just that maybe they cannot continue to pay for vet bills or care, and so they decide to euthanize the pet, how do you deal with it? I would imagine it’s heartbreaking to watch the pet be euthanized, but from a practical standpoint you can’t “rescue” each one. How do you and the other staff members deal with it?

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7 Answers

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

I used to work at the Humane Society and they put animals down every Wednesday.
It can be sad,but you get used to it.The amount of mama cats in cages with their babies was mind boggling.Believe me,there were alot of dogs and other animals too.
Many people get pets on a whim, then aren’t responsible enough to handle it.
I doubt that will ever change.

Coloma's avatar

I have never worked in a vet situation, but, I have worked in wildlife rehab and had plenty of experiences with euthanizing, and plenty with my own pets.

I imagine one learns to accept this as a sad fact of ‘life’ in those environments.

Better a painless death than months or years of being feral, neglected, starved and homeless, all the while reproducing even more suffering.

As a pet owner I always spend the extra money to have my vet make the final housecall.
I just had to euthanize my darling 15 month old kitty who had FIP last month, but he was put down at home, resting on my bed and with no stress.

It never gets easy but whether you are an animal welfare worker or a pet owner, it is, sometimes, the only compassionate thing to do, and in knowing this it makes a sad deed a little easier to swallow.

rooeytoo's avatar

I had a kennel for a lot of years and people came to find out that I would take their pets to be put down for them (no charge of course). I did it because I always felt sorry for dogs I knew personally to have to be alone with no one they knew for their last minutes on earth. It ripped me every time but what was amazing was my old vet. He was not a young man even then, he must have put thousands to sleep in his career, but he always cried with me when he did it. We would both be blubbering and holding a paw as they breathed their last breath.

I hated it and so did he, but I guess we were both doing what we felt we had to do.

SpatzieLover's avatar

this is one of the top reasons I never became vet or a vet tech

syz's avatar

Compassion fatigue is actually a really hot topic in the veterinary community right now.

Our emergency clinic euthanizes so many animals, it sometimes amazes me that there are any pets left in our town. Especially on holidays – people love to put their pets down on holidays (nothing says “Merry Christmas” like killing things all day. That, in combination with being bitched at for having to wait even though we’re clearly insanely busy, having to pay to be seen, for apparently being somehow responsible for their pet being sick – it’s a really hard job.)

Euthanizing due to financial constraints is a sad fact of life. And sometimes it’s the only real choice. I talk to my staff a lot about the fact that we have to respect the choice of the pet owner, that we not only have to avoid trying to make that decision for them, we also can’t judge them for their decisions.

Yes, some pet owners don’t value their pets the way most of us in the veterinary community do. But I’ve also seen people put themselves into credit card debt, sell belongings, and even use home equity to treat an animal that will probably have only a few months, at best.

To survive, you have to find a balance between becoming too emotionally involved and being cold and uncaring. But no matter how well you think you handle it, some cases still cause you to slink off to the bathroom or the supply room to cry in private.

Hibernate's avatar

One should not work there if he can’t separate the “it’s just a job” from ” i feel sorry for the pet” .

I [ my family ] has a dog . He way too old for a dog [ around 20 years old , human years ] . And when the owner said it’s better not to torment the dog anymore [ he barely eats, can’t move, doesn’t hears, he’s blind and a few more ] and called the vet he said he won’t kill the dog because he served them for that time and doesn’t want to . The owner wants to spare him all the pain and the vet doesn’t want to . Would you want your loved ones to suffer ? Not to mention that the dog is in this shape for like 2 years now and he’s getting skinnier every month [ he used to be tall and strong about 25 kilos not he’s 10 ] .

Now tell me where’s the mercy here ?

@syz said it better when it came to financial aspects .. but if one really loves a pet then he’s gonna give him part of his/her food if he doesn’t have money to buy proper food .

bags's avatar

It was the hardest part of the job. I was a vet tech/helper and was never the one to ‘do the deed’. I worked for an old vet, and he insisted that he take care of it. Said he cared for them from their first shots, that if it weren’t the owners, than it should be him to close their eyes.

The last thing my animals see is my face, and hear me telling them how good they are, and feel my hands softly reassuring them. And a bit of my heart goes with each of them.

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