A dignified end for beloved pets

Chas Newkey-Burden’s article (How can we say we love our pets when we treat them so badly? , theguardian.com, 25 May) makes some very valid points about the ethics of pet-keeping, but I feel it is necessary to take issue with the segment dealing with pet euthanasia.

I have been in practice for 33 years and I have carried out euthanasia on sick, injured and very aged pets on an almost daily basis. The article suggests, with reference to one report, that animals frequently vomit or soil themselves on entering the room where euthanasia is to take place.

I have euthanised animals in my clinic, in people’s homes, in people’s gardens, even in their cars, and this has never been my experience.

Performing gentle humane euthanasia is a defining experience for a small-animal veterinarian. It is also the source of our most heartwarming feedback from clients. We are proud that we are able to comfort them and bring them to a reconciliation that a peaceful end to life is far preferable to prolonged suffering, and that we can perform this service with gentleness and dignity.

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Most of my clients choose to be present, but when they do not, the assistance of experienced and caring nurses, sedation as necessary and the very minimum of restraint, if any at all, ensures that all pets can leave this life with the peace and dignity we would want for our own.

It would be a tragedy if this poorly evidenced representation of the most important function we perform in companion animal medicine were to dissuade anyone from seeking the best, most compassionate end-of-life care and advice that veterinary professionals and their support staff can provide.
Robin Hargreaves
(Past president, British Veterinary Association), Colne, Lancashire

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