An informed yet devastating decision

September 18, 2019
Kelli Geswein

A potential foster dog showed aggression toward my veterinary team members, so this 2019 dvm360/VHMA Practice Manager of the Year finalist had to help the team see this was the best path forward.

'A staff member informed me that he had shown aggression toward a technician and cornered, lunged and snapped at one of our doctors earlier that evening ... ' (Dimid/stock.adobe.com)Our veterinary clinic has a program to find animals new homes. One dog, a stray named Baxter, stayed at our practice for a couple weeks while he recovered from minor injuries after being hit by a car. He seemed like a nice, normal dog, and we found him a foster home.

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An emergency situation

Baxter quickly returned to our practice. The foster informed us that Baxter didn't get along with her other dog. We concluded he shouldn't be in a home with other dogs.

One evening, a few days after he'd returned to the clinic, I received some urgent calls and texts from my team members. Someone at the clinic told our office manager that they needed to euthanize Baxter due to aggression issues. A staff member informed me that he had shown aggression toward a technician and cornered, lunged and snapped at one of our doctors earlier that evening. My staff members were asking me to stop this euthanasia before it moved forward.

Finding out the facts

I called the doctor who had made the decision to euthanize and asked her all the necessary questions. The doctor had witnessed Baxter's aggression toward the other doctor and toward our technician. She felt it was not in our best interest to rehome a dog showing such extreme aggression. I respected her opinion and expertise.

I called both of our clinic owners and discussed the situation with them. They agreed that Baxter should be euthanized.

The final decision

I then called the clinic to let them know they should proceed. I replied to everyone who had called and texted to let them know why we had made this informed yet devastating decision. The next day, I followed up with those who had concerns, filling in details and encouraging them to talk to our doctors and clinic owners if they felt they needed further assurance that the right decision was made.

Kelli Geswein is practice manager at Cheat Lake Animal Hospital in Morgantown, West Virginia, and a finalist in the 2019 dvm360/VHMA Practice Manager of the Year contest.