General Question

Unbroken's avatar

Would you put down your pet before being forced to part with it?

Asked by Unbroken (10714points) January 25th, 2015

I was put in a situation unforeseen when I got my pet where I had to give my pet to an adoption agency. It never put down animals though.

I couldn’t find a good home for her. This was several years ago. I still miss her and wonder what happened to her and her well being.

I wonder if I made the right decision and have no closure over the issue. Despite that I don’t wonder on my account whether having her put down humanely was the right thing. She was very attached to me. Very particular and spoiled. A one pet sort of cat. She had to be queen. Added to that I have had experiences as a child where the pets we gave up because of a long move never adjusted and either wasted away. Dying quite quickly or ran away and got killed. I would like to think my cat is adaptable and a survivor. But though she was to an extent. I dragged her to several moves went through different phases changed everything quite regularly I was always her constant. And we were bonded very strongly. Not very many other people stayed in her life very long or showed up regularly.

At the time I wasn’t sure what the right thing to do was. Nothing felt right. I just didn’t have it in me to seriously contemplate putting her down. She was middle age but in prime health.

So what would you do?

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18 Answers

SloanFaunus's avatar

I had this same experience recently when I moved from New Orleans back to Vegas. I had a beautiful and sweet husky hybrid named Sasha. Unfortunately, I had to leave her with my brother so it was considerably easier than having to give her to a stranger. She was my constant companion for three and a half years (some of the most difficult years of my life) and it broke my heart to have to give her up. I worry about her almost every day and wonder if my sudden disappearance hurt the dog as much as it affected me. I really hope not. I don’t know what your circumstances were, but sometimes we have to make difficult decisions in life. To bluntly answer your question, I would never put an animal down unless there was no other option and I sincerely believed that it was more beneficial to them i.e. their suffering was so unbearable that death was mercy.

Unbroken's avatar

Welcome @SloanFaunus. Thanks for sharing your story and insight. It does give me some comfort to have someone feel strongly about letting them live even if you can’t guarantee their life.

SloanFaunus's avatar

Glad I could be of some assistance and thank you.

livelaughlove21's avatar

I wouldn’t consider putting my healthy pet down an alternative to allowing them to live without me. Let’s not ascribe human emotion to pets. They’re not desperate girlfriends that will commit suicide if they can’t be with you. You hear about pets “wasting away” or being miserable without their owner, but these are just individual stories. You won’t hear about animals that are successfully rehomed and go on to live happy lives, because thats not interesting to people, but this does often happen. Pets are rehomed all the time and turn out fine. Killing a pet because you don’t want to risk feeling guilty about where they’ll end up is selfish.

As long as you’re not just leaving them to fend for themselves on the streets or dumping them at a kill shelter, chances are they’ll be okay. If you take the time and effort to find a reputable no-kill shelter, there’s no reason to believe they’re sure to end up dead in the middle of the road somewhere. Our local no-kill shelter is very picky and they grill you before adopting a pet as if you’re adopting a child. They ask a million questions and even ask for references. It’s a lot of trouble to get a pet there, so I think most of the folks adopting really want an animal to love and care for.

I know things happen in our lives and sometimes we have to part with a pet, but I often see people adopt pets and then rehome them because they “don’t have time” to care for the animal. Do people seriously think owning a pet will be a piece of cake? If you’re away from home for 12 hours a day, you shouldn’t have a dog, so don’t get one. Or people that move a lot get a pet and end up moving to a place that doesn’t allow animals. If you don’t have a stable home, don’t adopt a freaking pet. This is not aimed at the OP; it’s just a rant because I see this happen a lot.

SloanFaunus's avatar

I think it’s a bold claim to say that you understand the full emotional spectrum of any species of animal considering our sorely lacking understanding of even our own psychology. I didn’t mean to imply that Sasha was self mutilating over the the process, but I can imagine that there were some levels of anxiety and stress at her constant caregiver suddenly vanishing.
I do agree with your point that people who can’t take care of their pets, shouldn’t seek to acquire them and that euthanasia should be a last resort.
As for my dog, I’m sure that she is getting along just fine now. The reason I brought it up is because it’s only been three months since the move so the incident is still relatively fresh in my mind. I suppose that the attention span of a human being would be much greater than that of a dog.

janbb's avatar

When the rescue dog I adopted last year could not be trained out of biting, my trainer suggested euthanasia. I couldn’t do it; he was a young, smart dog. I ended up returning him to the foster home he had been at and she found him another home. After following up once or twice, I didn’t feel I could ask any more.

johnpowell's avatar

Putting down a healthy pet for your emotional well being is perhaps the nexus of selfishness and assholery.

ibstubro's avatar

All I can tell you is that my last cat i adopted as a fully grown adult male that had been fixed and declawed. Very pampered.
We bonded and when I had to have him put down many years later for health reasons, it killed a little part of my soul and, while I still love animals, I’ll never have another pet.
You did the right thing.

OpryLeigh's avatar

No, if my dog is healthy then she deserves to live as much as I do. I am lucky that my father or grandfather would take her in a heart beat but even if that weren’t the case, I would do everything I could to find her a living home rather than put her to sleep. Yes, I would always wonder about her but killing her for my own peace of mind would be selfish. I love me dog very very much but I know that she could have a happy life with someone else if necessary. I hope I am never faced with that decision, after nearly 10 years with her, my heart would break if I had to part with her.

Coloma's avatar

I think it is a very personal decision and some animals will adapt better than others. Nobody knows your animal like you do and therefore, nobody should feel they have the right to pass judgement or criticize anothers choice in something as emotional as re-homing or euthanizing a pet. I believe in quality of life over quantity and if one cannot find a perfect fit for a beloved pet then I do support euthansia.
I too went through this a few years ago and am happy to say I am now reunited with my pet again.

My very special pet ( I have 2 cats as well that I love dearly ) is an almost 17 yr. old white chinese goose I raised from a tiny gosling after he was found abandoned in the woods way back in 1998.
I had him for 15 years until the economy wiped me out between 2010 and 2013 and I was forced to give up my little home on 5 acres in the CA. hills here.
Being an imprinted bird meant he needed a close human bond as he prefers people to his own kind, even though he had companion geese he was extremely imprinted on me. I also had his companion of 4 years, after his first companion of 11 years had to be euthanized due to a crippling foot condition.
His companion was blind in one eye from a fsh hook after being dumped on a lake and also crippled due to never treated, badly broken leg and needed daily medication.

I screened numerous people, sought rescue groups, but, ultimately, there was no, even remotely decent situation showing up for him or his special needs pal. I ran his story in my local newspaper and got the usual replies of “bring him out to my property and toss him out on my pond.”
Nope, I don’t think so. This bird has lived in a very nice barn his entire life, with a large secure pen, pools, grazing time on my lawns and lots of human interaction which he had to have being an imprinted bird.

I had many inquiries from well meaning but ignorant people, wanting to keep them in their chicken coop ( you do not keep waterfowl with poultry ever. ) offering to toss him out on their ponds with no secure quarters, barn, and subject to predatory attack from the thousands of Coyotes, Cougars and Bobcats out here.
After several months of searching I had a home euthanasia appointment set with my ranch vet when a woman contacted me via a duck & goose fancier and rescue group on FB.
She lived only 30 miles from me, had another female goose, 2 rescue ducks and the perfect huge barn, lawns and pools and devotion and love of these remarkable birds that are long lived, highly intelligent and have long memories, she was also willing to take his buddy ” Sonora” and keep up on his medication and vet visits.
“Marwyn” took quite awhile to adjust, he was depressed and aggressive the first several months. I went to visit him and he ran shrieking after me a month after I left him in her care.

It was heartbreaking and digressing for him so we agreed I would not visit again for at least a year.
To make a long story shorter after a year of daily communication, emails, pictures, videos, my 14 month job gig in the city came to an end and I was at loose ends once again after decades of stability.
My new friends invited me to come live with them on their 10 acre ranch and be their house and ranch sitter as they are a well off, childless couple in their mid-40s that travel a lot and also are involved in professional show horses and car racing which also has them traveling a lot during the season.
I have now been here for 5 months, am thrilled to be back in the country, “Marywn” has now adjusted and loves us all, even though I will always be his mother goose.

I will be here, most likely, for quite awhile to come and while I am still in process of rebuilding my shattered financial world I am reunited with the love of my life, a goose. haha
Geese can live well into their 20;s even 30;s and 40’s and we all hope Marwen has many happy years here on the ranch with his extended family.
All of that said, had I not been able to find another person such as myself that was willing to care for him in the manner he was accustomed, yes, euthanasia is preferable to putting an animal through the emotional strain and potential of never knowing what becomes of them after they have enjoyed a loving and stable home.

marinelife's avatar

I would never give up an animal for any reason, and I would never ask a vet to put a healthy animal down. I would change my living situation or my own relationships first.

RocketGuy's avatar

My dog was like my firstborn child. I kept him until he could not continue (14.5 years old). It broke my heart to put him down, but his body really could not go on.

Coloma's avatar

@marinelife Never say never. I always felt the same until I lost my job, my home and was teetering in the verge of homelessness after decades of stability.
I was ready to gas myself and my pets at the same time.
Nobody ever imagines they might be homeless, and in my case, you can’t keep farm animals in the city. I got lucky, but again, never say never.

dappled_leaves's avatar

I always, always used to say “never” to euthanasia or giving up a pet for a move, but after my last move with an elderly pet, I have had to completely open my mind to those options. She had a terrible time with the new establishment (even though we’d moved several times in the past, into situations with new people and new pets), declined quickly and passed away. I honestly feel she would have been much better off if I’d left her with the friends I’d asked to foster her while I settled the new living arrangements. I made the wrong decision, thinking it would be better for her to be with me. In this case, her life would have been happier and more stable with someone else. The best option would have been to let my friends keep her, but I have to admit that even euthanasia would have been a better end for her than that last year. It’s a profound regret.

janbb's avatar

I think we have to distinguish between euthanizing a pet because the quality of their life is severely diminished or because they have become inconvenient in some way. I want to be euthanized if I am in terrible pain or my capacities are terribly limited so I am willing to do that for an animal to whom you can’t explain their suffering. I remember my vet saying that when his Dad was dying he thought we treat our animals better at the end than we can treat humans.

canidmajor's avatar

My newest dog is a rehome, he belonged to a friend of my daughter. I am delighted with him, but the more I know, the more I think he was inconvenient to this person. It has taken him a long time to fully adjust, but he seems happy here now.

I’m pretty sure I would not have a healthy animal euthanized, even a “pretty good” life in a home with someone to care for you is better. This dog may never be as happy as he was in his previous home, but he is not unhappy and is starting to express a silly side.

Unbroken's avatar

Very interesting discussion. I appreciate everyone’s views. I agree a person has to accept the responsibility of a long term commitment and never give it up unless it is the last resort.

As I mentioned in the op although I did lack closure that wasn’t the reason I was wondering if I made the right choice. My cat was particular spoiled and had an excellent food exercise/play regimine as well as pretty much being a unadaptable to other dogs and cats. Which was one of the reasons I couldn’t find a home for her with people I trusted because they already had pets.

She also is standoffish to start. So most people looking for a pet want a young pet if it is the only one in the family. And she wouldn’t win people over immediately surrounded with other cats.

This came up because I had a friend who recently rescued an animal they were unprepared for. Now both the pet and the family are miserable. But they feel obligated to keep it. They are great people they just were new pet owners and made an impulsive decision without knowing very much about what that breed of pet required and so forth.

As far as animals not adjusting and dying quickly after being rehomed when I was a child we had a continental move and gave up three pets within less then a year they were all dead. Good families were found it just didn’t work out. So I have personal experience in that side.

Over all I do think I agree with the majority. She was given an opportunity. It wasn’t completely hopeless. So it is right that she not be cut short without at least given the opportunity.

Also the point of the different emotional capacity of humans v animals is an interesting conversation. We like to think we know are pets. Just as we think we know our mates and families. But our perception is distorted by our own emotions. Add in the challenge of different species and it is difficult. I mean we can learn intellectually what capacity and traits species have. It is incomplete and impossible. However bonding with pets is real and gives us a certain amount of real insight.

Buttonstc's avatar

Fortunately, I’ve never had to give up a pet, but I did adopt a cat from someone who was moving into a place with someone allergic to cats. So she put an ad on Craigslist (A HORRIBLE IDEA because you have no control over what will happen to them.)

Anyhow, Baby, the cat, took quite a while to adjust to me. It was obvious that she had been well cared for and very much loved but she was one of those very shy “hidey” types.

For over a month she hid away in the cabinet under the sink in my bathroom and would only come out to eat, drink or use the box when she was alone in there. .

But every time I went in I would talk softly to her and leave her a treat (Jane, had left me several of the bags of treats which Baby loved as well as her toys)

It took around a month all told before she would venture out of the bathroom but she would gradually come out and let me feed her treats and pet her until she was ready to venture out of the room itself.

And eventually she adjusted to both me and my other cat even sleeping with me at night. I knew she had really turned the corner when she wanted me to play mousie with her.

She would hop up on the bed and drop it in my lap wanting me to throw it. She would then retrieve it and come back and drop it in my lap again till she was tired.

Meanwhile, I had stayed in touch with Jane by email, sent her pics etc. because I knew how much she loved Baby. She was crying when she dropped her off at my house.

Anyhow, fast forward to two years later when I knew I’d soon be moving halfway across the country. I let Jane know in case she might like a last visit with Baby before I moved (she had not seen her at all since dropping her off thinking visiting would be too hard for Baby to handle).

Anyhow, she wasn’t there five minutes before Baby was playing Mousie with her and rubbing against her legs and seeking petting. Obviously, even tho she adjusted to me, she hadn’t forgotten her first Mommy.

As we talked, it turned out that she had eventually bought her own place. I had been concerned about getting Baby cross country and preventing her hiding under the Motel beds since we would have two stopovers.

So, I asked Jane if she would like to have Baby back now that she had her own place. She was thrilled but I did make it on condition that she would never rehome Baby again.

That was an easy commitment for her to make as she realized how much of a mistake she had made in giving her up just to live with someone who was allergic to cats.

She was very young and had never had to give up a pet before. But after this lesson, she realized she never would ever consider it again.

So, you never know what the future holds and most pets are far more resilient than we might think. Yes, I’m sure that Baby’s first month was a pretty unhappy time for her. But the point is that she did adjust and was eventually playing and cuddling like her normal self.

And don’t forget that this cat was on the extreme end of shy and scared of new circumstances so that’s why it took her so long. But she did adjust.

But as long as an animal is rehomed with a new owner who cares for and loves it, chances are they’ll be fine sooner or later.

Taking a pet to a no-kill shelter is a far better option to euthanizing it. Life finds a way and most pets will adjust eventually and have a happy life.

I think Coloma’s situation was pretty unique because birds really do have very specialized needs so I can certainly understand her reasoning regarding her goose.

But most cats and dogs can and do adjust to a new situation as long as they have an understanding person who adopts them.

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