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Dog-Sense: For All Dog Owners




From happy puppy visits to the last appointment when the vet suggests euthanasia, read this horrid story and tell us (below) how you would or have dealt with this.


January 3, 2020 |

CinDee Byer, Journalist Award Winner


The decision to euthanize an old friend is heartbreaking. It is during this time when we look to our veterinarian and staff to comfort us and end the pain of our canine partner.


Over the years I have had several compassionate euthanasia experiences with my veterinarian. When it came time to euthanize one of our Dobermans it only took only a phone call to our long time veterinarian Dr. Herring. He was always there, even if it was on a Sunday. He had everything ready and met us at our vehicle. We talked for a minute, then cried as Dr. Herring gently stroked the head of the dog that lay before him. Skillfully he administered the euthanasia solution. As quickly as we said goodbye, Dr. Herring closed the dog’s eyes and she was gone.


The reality of euthanasia today is a much different story. Clinics are beginning to look more like the Taj Mahal instead of a place you take a sick pet. These new clinics require an abundance of income to build and keep them running. Today’s common practice of overbooking appointments leaves these clinics lacking in personal and compassionate veterinary care. With this approach GREAT VETERINARY – CLIENT RELATIONSHIPS are disappearing.


Euthanasia in these new clinics is an inconvenience to the clinic. It is the last procedure that pet will ever have. They will no longer require a file in the veterinarian’s office; no longer will they need a yearly vaccination. No longer will that pet need the clinic for emergency procedures or surgeries. So it is easy to see why these clinics choose the less skilled staff members to perform euthanasia. By the use of technicians instead of qualified veterinarians today’s busy clinics have freed up the time of the veterinarian. For the clients however, these clinics have made euthanasia not only a heartbreaking decision but an execution-like experience.


Not so long ago, while my veterinarian was out of town, one of our dogs experienced an emergency issue. We took him to an emergency clinic for surgery. Unfortunately, he suffered third-degree burns when a veterinary technician attempted to warm him after the surgery using hot water bottles heated in the microwave. Drugged, he didn’t stir, couldn’t scream out.


Our dog survived the surgery but could not survive the complications from the 3rd degree burns.
The decision was made to euthanize the dog. The veterinarian in charge of the clinic conveniently disappeared. A “20 something” inexperienced technician was sent in to perform the procedure.


This veterinary clinic required the administering of a muscle relaxer before euthanizing.


Muscle relaxers today (in my opinion) are only given to disorient the dog which enables an inexperienced person to be able to administer the euthanizing solution. The muscle relaxer was given to our injured boy and the technician left the room. The stressful side effects were disturbing and obvious.


Finally after 15 minutes the vet tech came back into the room. In order to complete the euthanasia it took two veterinarian technicians, 4 attempts and nearly a half hour. When it was over there was no doubt. I had just witnessed an execution.


Then this past May my dear 13-year-old Doberman could no longer get on her feet. I texted Dr. Herring to make that dreaded final appointment. He agreed to meet me at his office that Saturday morning but he suffered a serious fall that same night.


I didn’t know until I arrived at the clinic that my vet was in a Pittsburgh hospital in critical condition.


I quickly noticed the difference between having Dr. Herring at the clinic and having him not. The first difference was the demand to fill out several forms. The office required paperwork and payment before the procedure. The papers consisted of consent and what was to be done with the body. It seemed endless as unprepared, we had to discuss various prices of cremation, urns, caskets and types of ceremonies.


Then there was the demand for immediate payment from the office staff. The $50 charge I was used to from Dr. Herring was now $100. OK, no argument, let’s just please get it done. When all preliminary work was finally finished I took a deep breath. I closed my eyes and prayed that it would soon be painlessly over for my dear old girl.


To my dismay however, out came a young staff member with the dreaded muscle relaxer. Now there was an agonizing 15 to 20 minute waiting period before the euthanasia procedure could be done.


The only bright spot for me was the fact that another technician who I had met years before was the one who finally came in to greet me and finish the euthanasia humanely.


Due to complications from the tragic fall, Dr. Herring’s passed away in the hospital. We always said “Doc, when you stop being a veterinarian we will stop owning dogs!” This year we lost Dr. Herring, then our 2-year-old dog from the burns inflicted at the clinic, then crushingly, my beloved husband followed by my 13-year-old Doberman. I have been comforted by my 3-year-old Doberman “EV” but with Dr. Herring gone I wonder what I will do when it comes time to make that final appointment.


Euthanasia is a decision every pet owner will make or has made in their lifetime. I would appreciate hearing your experience and thoughts on euthanasia.


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