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Animals In Print
The On-Line Newsletter

From 4 April 2002 Issue

Readers Responses to:
Personal Tragedy, Losing Boris

Letter from Linda - 9 April 2002


I am horrified by your post about Boris, and can't imagine what you must be going through.  

Definitely time to find a new vet!!!!  I think he is full of s---!   As an Animal Control Officer I had to assist with our local shelters euthanasia for 2 years.  I have seem them done correctly and botched. 

I just had to euthanize my big dog before Thanksgiving so I truly know how you must feel. 

From my observations, correctly done euthanasia will go as follows:  The shelter dogs did not get the benefit of a tranquilizer prior to the procedure and the clinic we used, used Fatal Plus.  With the dogs, as long as all the fluid went directly into the vein, they would begin to go down  quietly only seconds after administering the injecting usually they would be down before the injection was even done.  The tongue would drop and there would be no eye reactions.  Often times, shortly thereafter they may eliminate.  All in all it may take 3 or 4 minutes for the heart to stop beating. 

On a botched euthanasia it was usually because all of the fluid did not get directly into the vein.  In other words, whoever gave the injection did not manage to stay in the vein (even though they may have hit it initially).  The fluid does not follow the course it needs to and it can be quite disturbing.  Sometimes there will be a lot of involuntary vocalization and movement from the animal.  They say the fluid goes first to the brain anyway so the animal is already unaware of what is happening.  Whether or not this is true I have no way of knowing, but it sounds to me like Boris was not in any discomfort during the confusion.  Thank God. 

I quickly got to the point where I would only use 1 vet tech for the animals I had to put down, because I trusted her completely and I could not go through my days with a
botched euthanasia on my mind.  She never injected into the heart on the dogs.  (No need to, dogs have large enough veins in their legs).  But often times she did on cats.  Especially feral cats - you cannot restrain them to get a good IV going.  Usually that was quiet and quick as well.  However, occasionally there would be some involuntary movement (which I understood was because of a heart attack).  But, that was rarely the case. 

I hope I haven't gone on too much for you at this time, but you bring up an excellent point.  The term euthanasia means quick and painless death.  Your vet really screwed up and the fact that he told you that they often find pets that were to have been euthanized up and running around at the end of the day validates that.  I do not believe that this is the way most clinics operate.  I know my vets do not adhere to that sort of behavior.  If your clinic does not have any more respect for the animals than that then they should close their doors, in my opinion. 

My thoughts and prayers are with you all.  You should have never had to endure anything like that - there is no excuse for it.

Linda in Kentucky

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