“Personally, it is not the animal I am saddest for, although they can break your heart. I believe I am helping them by ending their suffering and pain. We were trained to do just that. What we were not trained to do is to relieve the human suffering that will ensue.”
Veterinarians like Dr. Allison Dascoli, whose words appear above, can’t eliminate the hurt people feel when they have to euthanize their pets, but they certainly try to ease the pain. In one of her recent Ask the Vet columns, Dr. Dascoli writes about the emotional pulls and tugs veterinarians feel when a pet visits the veterinarian for the last time. It’s a wonderful piece, one that paints how painful end-of-life decisions can be for everyone involved.
For those who have had to make the decision, feelings of guilt are eventually cleansed by the realization that a pain-free, peaceful death for their pet was indeed the right decision. The luxury of having the choice to end a pet’s life humanely through euthanasia is actually one of the beautiful things about veterinary medicine.
Those who haven’t yet been in the position to make this difficult decision can take comfort in the fact that caring veterinarians like Dr. Dascoli are there to help. They can also rely on us – the American Veterinary Medical Association – for a variety of resources that help educate and assist pet owners with end-of-life questions and concerns.
We have brochures and other educational items available to the public that explore the life and health issues of senior pets, pet and equine euthanasia, and how to handle the grief and sorrow felt when you have to say goodbye. The words contained therein can’t make a pet healthy again, but they can help pet owners feel good about some very tough choices.
I’d like Dr. Dascoli’s sentiments to end this blog, because she says it far better than I ever could.
“This is never about the veterinarian; it is about family – whatever family we all might have, traditional or otherwise. In that room, with that animal before us, and those grieving hearts looking on, it takes us all to say goodbye humanely and with love.”