Euthanasia: Don't judge

January 28, 2019
Deanna Fischer, LVT

When it comes to the practice of putting pets to sleep, I think its time to show their owners some extra compassion.

(Reddogs/stock.adobe.com)

Definition:

euthanasia noun

eu·tha·na·sia | yoo-thuh-ney-zhuh

: the painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable and painful disease

This is something we face every day in veterinary medicine, sometimes even several times a day. It can be frustrating and draining on us, but it's part of our job to help ease our patients' suffering and support the family they're leaving behind. The way in which we handle that process is equally important.

Recently, while I was visiting a friend, she shared with me that her family had to say goodbye to their pet. She recalled that while telling a coworker about the loss, they shamed her for not staying with the pet during its final moments. With tears in her eyes, she asked me if I thought she was terrible. She loved her pet so much, but couldn't handle the heartbreak.

My friend's coworker told her how lonely the pet must've been and how awful the veterinary staff must've thought she was. I assured her that I know how hard those moments are and truly did not think her terrible. After that conversation, I got to thinking ...

We are human. We work long days during which we see a ton of stuff. It can be easy to judge situations and people that we actually know very little about. Honestly, how many times have you thought that someone was wrongfully putting their pet to sleep? Perhaps you felt that they didn't do enough in terms of testing and treatment, or anything at all. What about the people that we felt waited too long? Or the people who brought their pet in deceased after a night of breathing trouble because they wanted their pet to go peacefully at home? Or the people, like my friend, who could not stay?

Perhaps we are judging too much. We have no idea what happens in our client's homes, heads or hearts. They come to us and entrust their best friends, their family members to us in those final moments and that is what we should be concerned about. Let's pass less judgement and give more love.