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.
“Asked my vet what the hardest part was about his job & he said when he has to put an animal down 90% of owners don’t actually want to be in the room when he injects them so the animal’s last moments are usually them frantically looking around for their owners & tbh that broke me,” read the tweet, posted earlier this summer.
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.
For Safety Keep Your Dog Restrained in the Car. I know that dogs love sticking their head out car windows – but it’s a dangerous habit. They’re at risk for being hit with debris, damaging their ears & there’s always the risk that they’ll see something & jump out. If you’re going to be driving over 20 mph it’s always recommended to have your dog restrained in the car.
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.
(Past president, British Veterinary Association), Colne, Lancashire
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