WARNING: The following article may be considered as graphic by some readers.
Today’s topic is euthanasia. It’s not a happy topic, but one we get a lot of questions about and I hope that answering these questions will help make a difficult subject a little less scary and a little more tolerable. The most common question we hear is “How is the procedure done and do I need an appointment?” or, “What is done with the body?” These questions are easy to answer but the hardest one to answer is the hardest one to ask, “When will I know it’s time?” For some people, just a look from their pet is all they need, to know that the time is now. Another sign that your pet may need to be euthanized is if your pet’s quality of life has become so poor, that if we ourselves were suffering from the same ailments, we wouldn’t want to continue living. Occasionally, even after seeing all the signs, owners are afraid they might be making that decision too soon. For some, making that final decision is one of the most difficult decisions they will ever make. These pet owners need to hear from the vet, that there is nothing else that can be done and it’s time to humanely end the pet’s suffering and pain.
Making an appointment will let us know when to expect you. We have a room used specifically for performing euthanasias and knowing when you’re arriving allows us to get the room and the necessary paperwork ready and prevents you from sitting in the lobby with tears in your eyes.
Once we have you in the room, we’ll have you sign the permission slip to perform the procedure. If you didn’t tell us while making the appointment, this is usually the time we ask what would you like to do with the pet’s remains. We offer 3 different options to our clients for their pet. Depending upon where you live, because some cities don’t allow this, you can take your pet with you and bury wherever you decide. If you to decide to take the remains with you and bury at your chosen location, other than the cost of the euthanasia itself, there is no additional cost. We will help accommodate your decision by placing the pet in a cardboard casket, after being placed in a bag to prevent leakage. We also offer, with the help of Pet Cremation Services, Inc., private and common cremations. Private cremations are performed for the clients that wish to have their pet’s ashes returned to them. Pet Cremation Services has many options available on how these ashes are returned to you, but most often, they are returned in a polished wooden box, with the pet’s name on a brass name plate. Common cremation is the term used when you decide you do not want your pet’s ashes and the pet is cremated along with other pets. Depending upon the size of your pet and whether or not you want ashes returned to you, determines the final cost.
After the paperwork is taken care of, a technician will come in to place an IV catheter. Because the room is dimly lit, the technician will ask for permission to remove the pet from the room to safely perform the placement of the IV. The technician will recommend to the owner that once the catheter is placed, to allow us to give a mild sedative to help relax the pet and be more comfortable. (We encourage the client to take this opportunity, while the pet is in the care of the technician, to pay for the services.) The technician will then bring your pet back in the room to you, where the doctor will be in shortly. We encourage you to take as much time as you need and we’ve tried to make the room as comforting as possible for both you and your pet. After the doctor enters the room, if there’s no questions and your decision is final, the doctor will wait for your signal to move on with the procedure. Having the IV catheter already placed allows for the doctor to easily administer the medicine that will humanely euthanize your pet, quickly, peacefully and without any pain. After dispensing the medicine, and the pet has taken its last breath, the doctor will use their stethoscope for confirmation. Soon after, you are encouraged again, to take as much time as you need as the doctor exits the room.
If you decided to take your pet with you and bury at a location of your choice, a technician or assistant will be waiting for your permission to take the body from the room and prepare it for burial. As a courtesy to other clients, we will ask for you to meet us in the parking lot, so we can give back to you, your furbaby in its casket. If you requested for a private cremation, the ashes are often returned to us within 24 hours. Once we have them in our possession, an employee will call to let you know they are here to be picked up. We often see as many tears when owners are picking up ashes as when they are in the Euthanasia room. Seeing pet owners hug a wooden box with tears rolling down their face never gets easier.
When I started to write about this, and still now as I finish this, I worry that this article might be frowned upon. But too often, clients call us in tears, trying to get these answers. I wrote this article, hoping it helps give pet owners a little peace of mind by knowing what to expect. Please feel free to contact us if you have any further questions.