We were surprised by the District Attorney’s reference to the AVMA and our Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2013 Edition in conveying the June “no bill” decision of the Austin County grand jury in the Kristen Lindsey case. The AVMA was neither consulted nor asked to provide information regarding the case, and we were not aware that the Guidelines would be presented in this way. Based on the statements in the press release, the District Attorney’s application of the Euthanasia Guidelines was seriously flawed. An arrow is neither a captive bolt nor a gunshot.
Below is the section of the Guidelines that addresses the use of captive bolts and gunshot for euthanasia of companion animals. The bold highlighting is added to help ensure that conditions for use of these methods are clear.
Section 1.3.3 of the Guidelines addresses physical methods for euthanizing companion animals.
The following is an excerpt from page 45 of the Guidelines regarding the use of a captive bolt for euthanizing companion animals:
Penetrating captive bolt—Use of a penetrating captive bolt by trained personnel in a controlled laboratory setting has been described as an effective and humane method of euthanasia for rabbits and dogs. The bolt must be placed directly against the skull; therefore, safe and effective application of the technique may be facilitated by pre-euthanasia sedation or anesthesia. Penetrating captive bolt is not recommended as a routine approach to the euthanasia of dogs, cats, or other small companion animals, and should not be used when other methods are available and practicable.
Page 45 of the Guidelines also includes information about the use of gunshot for the euthanasia of companion animals as follows:
Gunshot—Gunshot should only be performed by highly skilled personnel trained in the use of firearms (eg, animal control and law enforcement officers, properly trained veterinarians) and only in jurisdictions that allow for legal firearm use. A method acceptable with conditions, use of gunshot may be appropriate in remote areas or emergency situations in which withholding death by gunshot will result in prolonged, unrelieved pain and suffering of the animal or imminent danger to human life. Protocols for ensuring a humane death by gunshot have been described and preferred anatomical sites for use of gunshot for dogs and cats are provided in Figures 8 and 9, respectively. Pre-euthanasia sedation (eg, medication added to food) is recommended, whenever possible, for cats since they may be difficult to shoot humanely. Gunshot is not recommended as a routine approach to the euthanasia of dogs, cats, or other small companion animals, and should not be used when other methods are available and practicable.
Use of a bow and arrow is not addressed when discussing recommended approaches for the euthanasia of cats. Based on the image attributed to Dr. Lindsey and shared on social media, we cannot determine if the cat died immediately.
The AVMA does have policy that addresses the management of unowned free-roaming, abandoned, and feral cats. AVMA policy suggests they be humanely captured, with placement in homes when appropriate, and provides some recommendations for the management of feral cat colonies. Whether the establishment of managed colonies is appropriate varies with local needs and environment. All free-roaming abandoned and feral cats that are not in managed colonies should be removed from their environment and treated in the same manner as other abandoned and stray animals in accord with local and state ordinances.
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