Veterinarians are not obligated to perform euthanasia

A practice owner who decided to refer all clients to Lap of Love finds that doing so has benefits for both his clients and his practice.

Kathleen Cooney wrote an excellent article recently about dysthanasia, and it is full of wonderful advice. The one thing she did not mention is that as professionals, we are under no obligation to perform euthanasia within our practices. We don’t all perform orthopedic surgery, or echocardiography, or many other procedures, so why do we all have to perform euthanasia, especially in light of the fact that there are experts out there who are probably going to be better at it than we could ever be?

I decided after almost 40 years in practice that I was no longer going to perform euthanasias. We did an excellent job at it, but even so, there was always the risk of a bad review or a complaint by the owner either because they did not listen or understand the procedure as explained, or because (sorry millennials!) they thought that they had a better idea as to how the procedure should happen. Euthanasia visits were also one of the most stressful appointments for myself and my staff.

I have known Mary Gardner, DVM, and Sheilah Robertson, DVM, for many years. Dr. Gardner is one of the owners of Lap of Love, a nationwide euthanasia and hospice service, and Dr. Robertson is the company’s chief medical officer. About a year ago, when our clinic’s euthanasia drug had expired, we decided that we would refer to Lap of Love for all euthanasia services going forward. It is one of the best decisions I have ever made. The stress around euthanasia appointments disappeared and, more importantly, most — if not all — of our clients came back to thank us for the referral. This also makes good business sense; many people will not return to the clinic where their pet was euthanized. We see more return business from families we have referred to Lap of Love.

I wish Lap of Love had been around 40 years ago, when I first graduated from veterinary school.

Dr. Petty owns Arbor Pointe Veterinary Hospital in Canton, Michigan.