Why I Think Euthanasia Isn’t Such a Bad Thing

Thanks to Old Dog Care Guide for this beautiful Photo

Thanks to Old Dog Care Guide for this beautiful Photo

I am assuming most people who are reading this have their hackles raised right now.  A few of you are curious, and some of you agree but want to see what I have to say.

When I was 18 to about 23, I was extremely pro-life and anti-euthanasia for all animals.  The thought of animals being put to sleep broke my heart.  No kill shelters were the only ones and the only idea I supported.

I am an animal lover to the core.

I not only swerve for little creatures in the road, I swerve to not hit the ones that have already been hit by cars.  When I was in college and on my way to class a squirrel ran out in front of my car; I did my best to swerve and miss him… but I couldn’t miss him without killing myself.  It broke my heart and I couldn’t even pull myself together to make it to class; I had to go home.

I really am an animal lover.

And, that is partially why I like euthanasia... Let me explain...

What Does No Kill Mean?

This is No Way to Spend a Lifetime  thanks to izismile for the photo

This is No Way to Spend a Lifetime thanks to izismile for the photo

First if you are very much pro No-Kill you have to understand what “No Kill” means to most “No Kill” shelters.  Usually in the fine print these shelters deem themselves “No Kill” only for adoptable animals.

So what does that mean?

It means that someone is in charge of deeming what is and what is not adoptable.

Aggression, health problems, and age are all factors that most of these shelters view as not adoptable, which kind of puts them in the same category as most kill shelters.

I suppose the big difference is that they don’t euthanize simply because of space and time issues.

The problem is that people think “No Kill” means that no animals are ever killed and that all animals that come in are magically fixed and are adopted.

This is not the case.  And I have a problem with these shelters that trick people into believing that they are totally different than regular animal shelters who do a lot of the same thing.

The Difference

Regular shelters also euthanize for aggression, health problems, and age but they euthanize a lot of adoptable dogs simply because they are out of time and/or these shelters don’t have space.

Euthanasia because of time and space I think is deplorable.

But You Have to Take Into Account

Thanks stacey lauren for the photo

Thanks stacey lauren for the photo

I had to grow up and mature a little bit before I could understand, but you have to take into account the sheer numbers and statistics.

The numbers are hard to understand, some of them are just made up and many shelters aren’t necessarily honest when it comes to the number of animals they put to sleep.  The American Humane Associate wrote an article explaining it in more detail that you can read if you click here

Essentially a study done in 1997 where 1,000 shelters replied to a survey 64% of the animals that entered the shelter were euthanized, which equated to about 2.7 million in just 1,000 shelters.

Unfortunately, not enough people spay and neuter and there are too many puppies and dogs for the number of good homes and people looking for dogs.

And when these dogs can’t find homes if there were no shelters they would be left to suffer, starve and develop disease.   In parts of this country and in many other countries, wild dogs are left to starve, reproduce many litters and die of disease and starvation.  This is no way to live either!

I wish dogs were like diamonds and they were more rare and therefore more cherished like they should be!  I’d give you all my material things over my dogs any day, but not everyone feels this way.

What Horrified Me the Most

Many Dogs Need Surgeries and Care that Shelters Can't Afford

Many Dogs Need Surgeries and Care that Shelters Can't Afford

I went to a seminar when I was in my early 20s about this very topic because I was adamantly pro No Kill and very passionate about that.  Part of me entered that seminar looking for a fight or an argument; until I sat, listened and watched a number of slides from true “No Kill” shelters.  These were the shelters that did not euthanize for health, aggression or behavior, sickness or any other reason.

The pictures had to be taken on the sly back then because some of them were so graphic and horrific.  Dogs were living in tiny spaces suffering from deformities and mental traumas and never having the hope of finding a family that would be willing to adopt them.

I remember one in particular, it was a puppy when the first picture was taken and one of his or her front legs was markedly longer than the other and deformed and curled under so she couldn’t walk normally, and instead she had to drag it like a stump.  On the end, was an open wound.

The shelter didn’t have the money to have the leg amputated or refused to amputate for some other reason because over a year later the puppy had become a full-fledged dog with a bloody stump.

I guess no one wants to adopt a dog that needs an expensive and lengthy surgery.  I still wonder to this day if anyone went and rescued the dog and got it surgery or if it suffered and died in a cage for the rest of its life.

Numerous dogs with severe aggression issues had wound up here, and most couldn’t even be touched by staff; instead staff had to use water hoses to spray and intimidate these dogs out of their kennel runs so they could be cleaned.

Thanks dogster for the photo

Thanks dogster for the photo

These dogs too, would live in a cage the rest of their life with no human or other canine interaction and with their minds and bodies rotting until they finally died.

Just like the human mind can rot and suffer if locked up in a cage all day so can a dog’s.  Dogs get kennel crazy and pace and spin and bark and their behavior rapidly deteriorates and if they are not adopted they begin to show signs of severe OCD.

Some of these dogs pace until their paws bleed, or bite at kennel doors until all of their teeth are broken and their mouths bleed.

I finally realized how inhumane we humans can be in an attempt to try and be humane.  I wouldn’t wish this life on my worst enemy.

I am all about saving adoptable dogs!  And, I believe in getting adoptable dogs medical care and treatment so that they can find good homes.  But my mind totally changed about “No Kill” and the suffering it can sometimes cause.

Instead I Got Involved in Helping Shelters Keep Adoptable Dogs

thanks to caninegoodcitizen for the photo

thanks to caninegoodcitizen for the photo

In my 20’s and 30’s (which I am still in ;)  I have spent a lot of my life in shelters adopting dogs and training them to be Service Dogs for the disabled.  There are a lot of diamonds in the rough out there that other people have disregarded and disposed of simply because they never gave them training or a chance at a normal life.

A lot of these dogs get euthanized when their time is up.  It doesn’t matter how sweet they are to staff or how well they are doing in the shelter awaiting adoption, when their time is up… their time is up..

So I never adopted from a no kill shelter, I went to kill shelters to save lives and try to educate shelter employees and make changes if I could.

I believe that euthanizing a dog simply because his time is up or space is limited is sad and avoidable.

I think that these dogs should be kept and those that are sick, aggressive and unadoptable should be the ones that are euthanized.

So I went into a couple of shelters and helped them to recognize highly adoptable dogs, keep them  longer for adoptions and utilize foster homes.  You see, if these dogs are adoptable then they are easy to foster!

And, I don’t believe a dog should be euthanized simply because of their age!  We should revere our elders both canine and human.  I saved a lot of old dogs that were perfectly adoptable and we instituted a free “Seniors for Seniors”  program where older people could adopt older dogs for free.

Humane Euthanasia

I know that sounds like an oxymoron to some of you.

I also know that some shelters and other facilities do anything but humane euthanasia or humane protocols and I believe that needs to stop.  We must demand that barbaric and inhumane methods come to an end.

But the process of using an injection (just like they do at veterinary hospitals) to end a dog’s suffering, I believe to be more humane than suffering for a lifetime with no hope of a normal life.

Quality of Life

I love old dogs

I love old dogs

I believe in quality of life for all dogs, those in shelters and those as pets.

Dogs deserve a quality of life.

Having worked in the veterinary world for many years I have seen many things.  When I first started working in this field I was scared at the idea of having to have anything to do with euthanasia.

I didn’t think I could handle it and I didn’t want anything to do with it, but I learned that it is kinder than watching an animal suffer.

I have seen owners who have allowed their old dogs suffer for far too long prior to euthanasia.

One dog I remember like it was yesterday, came into our clinic for euthanasia.  In her prime she was a 105 pound lean Alaskan Malamute but on the day she came in to be euthanized she was a 70 pound skeleton that could no longer get up or even walk.  Although she was alive, she had not had quality of life for a very long time.  I was sad that she had, had to live like that for so long.

I know it is hard to say goodbye to your best friend, but that day I vowed that when my pets were too sick to get any enjoyment out of life I would give them the gift of euthanasia and end their suffering.

The Truth Is…

The truth is I believe in a higher power and a life after this one.  I believe that heaven could only encompass our animal friends while they wait for us (otherwise it wouldn’t be heaven), so death is not a finality for me and my beliefs nor is it a terrible thing.  In fact, death is a natural thing.

So I do believe euthanasia is a gift we can give to suffering animals to give them a release to the next life.

I often wish it was a gift we could give to other humans when they too are suffering and just awaiting a more painful impending death.

In the right circumstances and done appropriately and kindly, it can be the kindest thing to do for some animals.

What Can You Do to Make a Positive Change

Thanks to rawstory for the photo

Thanks to rawstory for the photo

First of all spay and neuter!!  Dogs that are spayed and neutered are not adding to the problem.  For more on the importance of spaying and neutering click here.

Adopt a shelter dog and this article will help you with your selection click here.

Open your heart to fostering to help give your local shelter or humane society more room.  You can even raise a litter of puppies!

Donate to Spay Neuter programs to help people in your area get their dogs spayed and neutered.

Work with local organizations if your shelter is using inhumane methods to help get protocols changed.

Volunteer your time to your local shelter and walk and train dogs!  For more on training and helping dogs find forever homes read this article, click here.

In order for dogs to stay adoptable and not go kennel crazy, they need human interaction, exercise and training; this small thing will help them find forever homes!

For more ideas read this blog post We Can All Do Something to Save a Life.

 

 

 

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Comments

  1. Mary says:

    Our shelter is a No-Kill shelter. We are fortunate enough to have some funds set aside for medical expenses and have spent thousands for MRIs, scans, dentals, eye care for both our dogs and cats. We have three Special Needs rooms where the cats live out their days in comfort (age, cancer, diabetes to name a few issues). Only when they can not be kept comfortable do we consider that final step and we will not let an animal suffer. When we have only a few dogs, we go to kill shelters and take not just the “good” dogs, but ones on the list and who just need some training and time.

    And until we value a four-legged creature for the living, feeling beings they are, kill shelters will be a necessary evil. Otherwise, these animals will starve, be hit on the road or suffer. It is up to humankind to make this a better world for all of God’s Creatures.

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    Cody Reply:

    What do you do with animals coming in? No kill shelters?? I mean know it sounds bad however it makes room for more dogs. So many no kill shelters have animals become
    Crazy because they are locked up. Kill shelters are fine because you won’t grow over populated at least they can SAY we let every animal in because WE had space.

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  2. Trina Harris says:

    Right on! Especially the point about not letting your pet suffer because you can’t say goodbye. Although dogs have pretty good memories, they still live in the “now” (at least according to Cesar). Which means they can’t sit around reminiscing about the “good times” like we do. They may still know us in the now, but they also only know their suffering NOW, and only their suffering. Delaying that goodbye is not love, it is selfishness and bad boundaries.

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    Janice Young Reply:

    I agree completely. I hate to hear friends and others say I just can’t do it. How selfish. Everyone should read the “Crossing over the Rainbow Bridge” and believe it and show their love to their loyal pet and let him go peacefully and have no more pain.

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    Jyoti Reply:

    Thank you for this article and the comments about euthanising you pet. I had to make this difficult decision a few months ago for my beloved westie. I did not want her to suffer and she was very very sick with no cure for recovery. I have wondered a lot after that day if I did it too soon but after reading this it has brought me comfort to know that I made the right decision at the right time. Karma wax 15 1/2 years old.

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  3. Greta pollard says:

    I read the article and agreed with everything that was said far to many people
    Say they care for animals but are happy to see them suffer not outwardly
    But internally we can’t know how a dog feels we can only guess put
    Yourself in their shoes could you live as they do its like jail to us dogs
    Need space room to run a good family to love them good food discipline
    And good health if this is not being provided or a dog I’d irreparably damaged
    Then you have to consider other options not a pleasant job but sometimes
    A neccesary course of action and best for the dog I am for euthanasia
    In the right circumstances.

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  4. Euthanasia is the most difficult decision an animal lover ever has to make. But if we truly love our pets, it is our main priority to keep them from suffering needlessly. Over the past while, I have seen far too many “senior” dogs in shelters – and I absolutely love the idea of the “Free Seniors for Seniors” plan. What a wonderful way to help both a senior animal and a Senior citizen who may not be able to afford the cost. We have had to make this decision many times over the past 25 years, and it never gets easier. I always second guess myself “did I wait too long”, “did I do it too soon”?
    Thank you for writing such a needed article.
    Roberta

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  5. Lee Hill says:

    I had a beautiful ridgeback cross rescued from the RSPCA as a 7 week old puppy. He was so gentle, despite his 57kgs, that he used to go to a nursing home to visit the residents and had a reputation for licking babies toes!

    He had a hemangiosarcoma in the liver and spleen when 9 years old. We were given the option of an operation to remove the liver and spleen, but with no better outcome than palliative care – 2 to 8 weeks of life. My first priority was concern about his quality of life and I did not want him to suffer. We opted for palliative care on the advice of the vet that he would not suffer. He lasted 4 1/2 weeks and during that time enjoyed long hours in the park with both his doggie and human friends.

    In the end he stopped toileting and eating and we had made the hard decision that if this happened we would have him euthanased. The vet came to our house and was very gentle and caring for the dog’s needs as well as ours. We said our goodbyes peacefully with him laying in our yard on a blanket – without him suffering.

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  6. Lorraine Dupres says:

    I am a senior and not in the best of health myself. I believe humans should have the option of choosing assisted suicide when their quality of life becomes pretty much non existent. I have experienced many friends and family members beg their doctors to help them end their lives because of the misery of lingering on when there is no chance of recovery. When I hear people say that they can’t bear to euthanize their pet, even though that poor animal has no quality of life and no hope of recovery, I just cringe. What is this world coming to? Dying is a natural process and all of us will die whether we like it or not, including our pets. What’s this world coming to when we permit and even go to extremes to keep people and animals alive at any cost? Just who is benefitting from this misery? Health care costs have exploded, not only for humans, but also for animal care. These dollars could be better spent on people/animals who have a chance of living well. I have a pet myself, have always had pets and when I can no longer provide him with the care he needs because of age or incurable illness, I want to be able to make the right decision for him. I also want to be able to make that decision for myself, but I don’t have a lot of confidence that I will have that option for myself because of the legal system. I hope I will have it for my precious pet.

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    Joe cantona Reply:

    Sometimes people dont want to euthanize their beloved pets because of a flood of mixed feelings and guilt, so they arent thinking clearly, lets not judge and jump with big words, many times people just need a different perspective and need someone to reassure them rationaly in a difficult choise like this.

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  7. Sko Hayes says:

    I have to admit that I was guilty of waiting too long to euthanize a beloved dog. He was one of my first “very own” dogs that was 16 years old, and I saw on his record card where the tech had written “very skinny!!” the day I brought him to the vet to be put to sleep. Then, while I waited for the vet in the exam room, I noticed he was very skinny (even though he’d always been a thin, active dog), and felt terribly guilty for making him live longer than he needed to, because I was too selfish to let him go.
    It’s very hard to make that final decision, but when you realize that you’re doing it to prevent suffering, it makes it a little better.
    One thing that I like to share with friends who are considering euthanasia is called “The Last Will and Testament of an Extremely Distinguished Dog” by Eugene O’Neill:
    “now that I have grown blind and deaf and lame, and even my sense of smell fails me so that a rabbit could be right under my nose and I might not know, my pride has sunk to a sick, bewildered humiliation. I feel life is taunting me with having over-lingered my welcome. It is time I said good-bye, before I become too sick a burden on myself and on those who love me. It will be sorrow to leave them, but not a sorrow to die. Dogs do not fear death as men do.”

    http://www.petloss.com/poems/maingrp/lastwill.htm

    It’s a beautiful tribute to a man’s dog, and will cause tears and smiles.

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  8. Sally Green says:

    Couldn’t agree more.

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  9. Gigi says:

    I love old dogs. I adopted a 8year Old Labrador mix 4 years ago. But the people who gave him into the Shelter if it was for really an Emergency I think they where very mean. This lady is so wonderful I would .not give her away for 1mill. She was sick after a month I had her, and since than, everything, Cancer, Eyelaser, Pancreatis, Coloninfection. She has an Allergy of everything and is on medicaton, which does harm her liver, so I give her medication to help to protect the liver. She is getting 15 Med and Vitamin in the morning and in the evening. I just put her 2 month ago on Bravo Raw. She loves it, she is wonderful, she is sleeping a lot, and does not want to go anywhere I do not go. I just put her on liquid medicaton, the vets just received it know. There are A,B,C, bottleds. Every morning and everning she is getting 2 drops. I do believe, it has to be done, that animals have to be put to sleep, but I have the hardest time to think of my Belle, that she will have to go. I visit the Vet about every week, so when it is time he will let me know and help me with this. Yes, I am working at a store, where the no-kill shelter come every week, have a lot of puppies, which they even pick up all over the states. But the big problem is, they give the puppies to everyone, elderly people really seniors, without explaining the work they are going to have. Some bring the puppies back and some bring the large dog back after a year, because it is to big. PEOPLE even the once who never had a dog and dont know what to do, dont asked for help. Everyone want a pretty puppy, it is so sad, I get always very upset withe Volunteers and the people. I saw a very old couple, moving around was not easy. The lady wanted a small puppy, this where puppies 8weeks and 3 month. I informed her of the hard work, Potty training, walking, vet everything I could. She insisted to get one. Finally she got an Australian cuttle dog. She wanted a dog she can hold in her arms. I asked her if she asked how big the dog is going to be, I explained it to her, she answered Oh, I put her on my legs. I needed to walk away, I even told the Volunteer of this Non kill Shelter, that it is irresponsible, to give 2 old people a puppy and not giving them proper information what is coming up to them. Thin non kill shelter only wnat on there paper, that they had a lot of adoptions, but do not care, who is getting them, no check, nothing, no home check, nothing, just get rid of them. My stomach is turning. People are very uneducated about animals, this should be done more on TV, Magazines. This is why so many dogs come into the shelter, even the onces who have been adopted before. One beautiful dog medium size, some sheppard 6 month old was adopted after about 1 month, the person brought him back a couple of days later, that he was mouthing, sure he needs toys to bite, he is teething, but nothing of this sort if giving as an information to the adoption people. The volunteer should be trained also, they do not even know when a dog needs water. It is so sad. The dog went again with awoman in an apartment and a 6year old standard puddle mix, he was biting this dog all the time, I informed the supervisor of the non kill shelter, all she did look stupid. She gave this poor dog, which had the shelter, than a home, than another home, that is why I say, they dont care who is taking the animals. Second chance for puppies and kittens. I felt like on a mexican market.

    And that is one thing I really will do, if my Labrador is suffering he is going into the animal haven, he shall not have any pain. I agree, a person who does say I cant do it is selfish I can not do it either, but it is worse to see your beloved pet suvver and can not tell you and can not do anything about it. I will be suffering like every other pet lover, but I can help myself. So if anyone is out there and let there pet suffer, because of there own feelings, shame on them, I hope, you will never feel this for yourself.

    [Reply]

    maxine masterfield Reply:

    Last July I had to take my beloved Shi-Tzu to the vets. She had been suffering all night from an enlarged heart and couldn’t stop coughing.Pockets was my life, she was the child I never had and at 13 years old I had to put her to sleep. I looked into her eyes as she reached the vets and saw fear (I think it was because she knew she was there) It was so painful, but I knew it was time as she fell asleep in my arms.. I kissed her and said goodbye. I never stop feeling the loss of her, in fact I have lost over 26 pounds since that time and seldom stop crying when I think of her.I wondered why we all have to feel such pain when our love is gone, then I saw a movie..”The Life of Pi..It taught me something about life I never realized “THE WHOLE OF LIFE BECOMES THE ACT OF LETTING GO” (A QUOTE FROM PI) It is a bit easier now, but of course I never cease to miss her. I know have a new Shi-Tzu “Mitzi and she is also now becoming the love of my life too.

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  10. Lynn Keeney says:

    I thought this was a really good article and I will say that I truly believe being with your dog if/when they have to be euthanized is that last gift you can give to them. It is not easy and many people will say it was just too hard for them to do – but I have loved my dogs enough to do it for them. I have 12 dogs buried on my property – but I have 6 lovely alive ones right now and I volunteer with a rescue group.

    That is really why I am commenting – I did not see you refer to rescue groups at all in your article. I volunteer with SouthEast Beagle Rescue and we primarily pull dogs from kill shelters – although sometimes we get them from out of state hoarding cases. My husband and I have fostered about 40 dogs at this point in time and it is the most wonderful thing I have ever done.

    So if you want to help and your local shelter doesn’t have a foster program, Google rescue groups – we are usually by breed. And if you can’t foster, anything else you can do to help the rescue groups is still helping the dogs. There is often a great need for transporters to get the dogs from the shelter to a rescue group. There are incredible feats of getting dogs long distances and there is always help needed!

    Thanks for these honest words on euthanasia and quality of life!

    [Reply]

  11. Jane Allavena says:

    I called the vet last August 11th to end my adored 16 year old yorkie Jordy’s suffering. That Saturday morning I just felt I was so selfish, he was almost totally blind. Totally deaf and full of arthritis I just said no more it was the hardest decision ever and he died in my arms. I hope I have the strength a bit earlier with the two new rescue dogs we have. It is so hard but deep down you will know enough is enough.

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  12. My local shelter is the dumping site for the county’s Animal Control officer. It’s a rural, southern county where people don’t believe in spay/neuter and dump litters of kittens and puppies by the side of the road. On a GOOD week, the shelter manages to adopt out 1/4 to 1/3 of the animals they intake to its many existing and new supporters.

    The shelter director is an angel! How hard it must be to walk through that shelter and choose which animals will live and which will die. The day I adopted my beautiful, black Lab from there, she gave me a glimpse into what she went through, as she showed me puppies that she felt would never be adopted (they weren’t “cute” enough), the older dogs that would have a short stay, and the ones she knew the only hope was rescue in other areas, where the “breed” is more appreciated.

    She talked about animals that she had to be extremely careful about placement – a gorgeous male Husky, who needs to be in air conditioning all summer, cats who arrived declawed, dogs with heartworms, dalmations that need to be in homes without children because they are kid-friendly.

    They keep animals as long as they can. They raise as many funds as they can to keep their animals. They take as much initiative to find forever homes for animals as they can. But, the reality is, there are too many to find homes for them all. And so they do the humane thing and keep them as long as they can, and then euthanize humanely.

    We love and support our shelter and have pledged to keep our animals (currently, one dog, one cat) as long as they have quality of life. Euthanizing has to be an alternative, because overcrowding isn’t humane either.

    [Reply]

  13. Teresa Juliano says:

    Thank you so much for this article, I have spent most of my life in animal welfare, training, and helping people to understand the needs of animals. You are so right about no kill shelter spent years in them, watching all kinds of dogs come in with problems and only getting worse because they spend to much time there without the proper handlers to work them and help get them adopted.

    Please keep up the good work getting more information out to the public and educating our staff and volunteers at all shelters to see the good in all dogs. Yes sometimes death is better. And lets get more people to just visit shelters and see just what some of the animals are going though, lets teach people that these are animals not humans, but they have every right to live in a safe place.

    Thanks
    Teresa Juliano

    [Reply]

  14. Venetia says:

    I understand everything you have written, we have a volunteer program with kids, 4-5 classes a week where we go, they help feed, the clean the pen, they walk the dogs, they play with them, they bathe, they give treats, anything that we can do to make them more adoptable. However, it breaks my heart to know that on Friday’s dogs get put down, just in case they need the room. OR they get put down because they are a black dog and not colorful, a yellow lab is more likely to be saved over a black lab, or they keep a momma cat and allow her to have her babies only to put them down when they are six weeks old. They don’t offer special adoption days, I could go on and on. I don’t want to jeopardize our program, because it has been good for the youth and the animals that are involved. I try to make sure no matter what the circumstances are with the animals that are there, that I spend time with them so that even if it is there last days, they know that someone does love them. I would love to be trained to teach service dogs, or search and rescue dogs, that is a dream of mine.

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  15. frank says:

    One of the best thing you can do for your friend is to know when to say Good bye. They know when that time is before we do. My Golden at 12.5 years was lying on my lap and chest, all 90 lean loveable pounds of him, my wife on one side and son on the other. Petting, hugging, and talking to him and saying “until we meet again” in our home, when the vet at our feet, performed Euthanasia.
    We love you Max.

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  16. Lu Garu says:

    Insightful, right on the money. Adopt from shelters and support neutering programs. I completely agree.

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  17. Sandra says:

    I adopted a pointer who had been found emaciated with a litter of puppies. I don’t know if she was abused or not, but she spent her days in a crate under our train table that was skirted and would not come out in the house. She loved to be able to go out and run. We bonded well and she looked healthy, but we went on vacation and my daughter went daily to feed her, but she would not eat. I built her back up with bacon grease on her food. The we took another vacation same thing. I took her to petsmart with me to find something to help build her up again (you can only eat so much bacon) and the rescue people were there and told me I had to give her back. I did, not because I abused her, but because I realized that mentally she was never going to be a normal animal. Hiding in a dark cage all day was not a good life for her. I loved her and hated to give her back, but I was not given a choice. When there is such an abundance of dogs for adoption, please don’t save the ones who have little chance of being a happy thriving dog. The head of that rescue was later arrested for hoarding dogs and not caring properly for them. Telling this again, breaks my heart again. I found out on a trip to Cancun that there they pick up the strays, spay or neuter them and put them back where they were found. There were a lot of dogs wandering the streets, but strangely no packs. I am not advocating that, but they at least don’t house them in cages.

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  18. Linda says:

    I agree with you totally. Minette. You are changing the world one dog at a time, and God bless you…I think Paul Watson should name his next ship after you – you go girl!!! It’s hard to say goodbye to your pet when the time comes, but I have stayed with my dogs through the euthenasia and it has given me peace knowing that I helped them pass quietly without fear, and hope that they are waiting on the bridge for me.

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  19. T says:

    I agree with this article. It is still painful to remember the day we had to choose to put our beloved chow-chow down. We adopted her at 8mo from a breeder who was giving them away because she could no longer sell the pups they were to old. Shelby was our families first pet and our youngest son was the same age 8mo when we got her. They grew up together and at 14 we had to make the decision to put her to rest. She had developed hip dysplasia at about 11yrs but when she started whimpering to get up from laying down we started thinking it was very close to us having to make the choice, sadly that choice was made for us when we came home after being away for the evening for new years. We found her cuddled up in the tub and whimpering. She had developed twisted stomach, we rushed her to an emergency vet at 2am and he gave us the news. It was one of the hardest choices we had ever made. But she was aging and to do surgery would have been to painful for a dog her age. Not to mention that it most likely would return. We miss her but the great thing is we can remember all the good stuff more then the pain she would have had to endure if we had been thinking about our own feelings. We will never have another dog like her.

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  20. Carol says:

    All animals deserve to live out their life if it is feasible.
    The only time I would put an animal down is if there was no hope and it
    was in extreme pain.

    Otherwise, they deserve to be happy, loved, and taken care of as if it
    was a human.

    I love older animals and want to see them have a good quality of life.
    I adopted my grand dog and my niece dog. They are both 11 and I love
    taking care of them. They give so much back and show you everyday how
    much they love you.

    carol, darlin and skye

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  21. Angie Sisco says:

    I agree wholeheartedly. I have had animals almost always in my life, so I have had to make the hard decision more than a few times. It’s never easy but it’s selfish to make a poor suffering creature live for your sake.

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  22. Minette says:

    Not all shelters are this way.

    Shelters and their staff want it to be as kind and quick as possible too, and for many it is the same as in a vet hospital.

    Some shelters and their protocols are horrific, but not all.

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  23. Patti says:

    I have had to euthinize 2 pets both for different reasons. Many years ago I had a pet that had bitten a child in the face when she came up to pet him, he continued to show aggression towards children and there were always kids around. We could not foresee a living situation where he would not encounter children so we thought it would be best to euthinize him. I stayed in the room with him when they did it and it was very difficult to witness.

    This past winter my 17 year old got pneumonia and we just could not get her through it. She had gotten to the point where we were carrying her outside and practically holding her up just to urinate. We put a pad under her in the house, but she refused to use it. I had taken her to the vet to be looked at and possibly get some IV meds or fluids while I had to go out of town to a Vet specialist with another of our dogs. When I came to pick her back up that evening, they told me that on the x-rays the pneumonia had worsended and that they did not feel she would make it through it. I again chose to stay with her while they injected her and it was very heartbreaking because even though physically she was failing, mentally she was very alert and when she saw me enter the room she gave me that look of OH BOY, my mommy is here to take me home. Even though I know it was the right decision to make, it was still the most difficult thing I have every done and it still breaks my heart to think about the look on her face.

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  24. Chaz says:

    It is unfortunate that the medical profession in general (including veterinarians) have become so greedy that the average person cannot afford to properly care for a pet. People and pets alike are suffering because of this unbridled greed. These people should be ashamed of themselves. Sure, they deserve to make a decent living like everyone else, but having a Mercedes in the garage of a mansion should not be the expected norm. How some of them sleep at night is beyond me. Sickening!!!!!

    [Reply]

    GrannyM Reply:

    I have to agree with you, Chaz. Our local shelter used to have “specials” twice a year where you could get your dog spayed/neutered for under $100 (they would also get all required shots at that time, included in the price). Then a different Vet took over, working with the shelter, and the “specials” were discontinued. Now it’s upwards of $400 (depending on breed, size of dog, male/female, etc) to get them fixed and their shots. Our family has always taken in rescue dogs, and had them spayed/neutered at this shelter, but without the “specials” being available we simply can’t afford it. 🙁
    I also agree with Minette’s article, and one of the hardest things we ever had to do was to have our 14-year-old Black Labrador put to sleep. We probably prolonged the final decision much more than we should have, mostly because our children were still very young at the time and it was THEIR dog. But then it turned out that and what had I dreaded the most – having to explain to my 2-year-old why her best friend had to leave her – was answered by her 5-year-old brother in the most amazing way as he comforted her and told her that (quote) “God needs OUR dog in heaven, to help him take care of the little kids there like he took care of us” (end quote).

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  25. Debbie McDermott says:

    I agree with everything you said. I know that in shelters they have to make hard decisions that I’m not sure I could make. Two years ago this past Christmas, my beloved GSD, Tahoe, suffered a massive stroke. She had just turned 13 and was still in good health, chasing the ball everyday. We were having a major snowstorm that day and were unable to get out of our driveway. I sat with her all night and know the moment she “left”. When we were finally able to get out, taking her to the vet was just going through the motions. She may have still been breathing but had lost all body functions and as I said, I knew exactly when she passed. She had raised her head and we looked at each other and said goodbye. She lowered her head into my lap and it never raised again. I am SO thankful that it happened that way. She was not in any pain and thankfully the decision was removed from me. I had known her since she was just 2 weeks old and she was my child, my friend and one of the greatest loves of my life! She had also been my service dog as I have M.S.
    The fact that we can give our pets the gift of dignity at the end is one that I wish we could give ourselves.

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  26. carla brown says:

    I have had animals all my life and they stay with me until their last dieing breath. Each one was/is special – they all had/have their own little personalities. However call me bad, but I CANNOT be with them at their time of death – I just can’t. I ask friends and family (someone the animal knows) to be with them at the time of being PTS. I feel that I will lose my sanity if I stay. Does anyone else have this same problem as I?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I think my animals deserve to take their last breaths in my arms as I whisper in their ears how much I love them as they drift off.

    Is is hard?? YES!!! But they devoted their whole life to me and they deserve my comfort in the end when they may be scared and surrounded by people they don’t know.

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  27. I work with a NO KILL shelter. We euthanize for severe aggression (4 or 5 in 5 years) and when the vet tells us there is no quality of life for a terminally ill dog. Every other dog lives in a home with a foster family until it is adopted. ALL DOGS recieve whatever veterinary care it needs no matter how expensive. We are constantly funraising to cover the costs of vetting. We take tough cases from all over North America and Canada. We work with every single one to find an appropriate home. Blind, deaf, deformed, three leggeds, and every one has a good quality of life while in our care and because of dilligence – after it is adopted. Not all NON KILL shelters are the same.

    The issue is that we can only take the dogs if there is a foster home available. And they are very special, very dedicated foster homes. It is why we don’t ever euthanize for space. That is the curse left for others. We do what we can with help from a lot of very wonderful people.

    We focus on public education to bring the plight of these animals to the public. We push spay and neuter. We teach children in schools to respect themselves and animals with our Yes! I Can! Program. Each one of the dogs in our program has a story of something it has overcome.

    Can we save them all? No. But we can continue to educate, fight animal abuse, and show children that there is another way so that the future can be better one child at a time. We keep in touch with our adopters as best we can and encourage them to contact us if they need help with training or anything else.

    It is not a perfect system. We can all only do the best we can.

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  28. Susan Loss says:

    I agree with this article, so glad you posted it. We rescued a Wheatan Terrier from our children. They could no longer deal with his craziness, and ultimately aggressiveness. We all gave this dog 8 wonderful years, but when he could not be controlled, we spoke with the vet, trainor, Humane Society and a behaviorist about what to do. Our worst nightmare would have been sending him to a life of cages – unthinkable, but he could not be sent to any home after biting me for a second time. The decision was made and although it was tough, it was the safest thing for our family and the most humane for him. We loved him too much to do anything else.

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  29. Jenny says:

    Thank you for this article. Very touching subject.

    I (we) have 3 beautiful, loving,kind dogs for 9 years now and 1 cat, 18 years old.

    One of my dogs, Charlie, developed heart and liver issues last year. He meant so much to me and my family. I took care of him as long as I could; taking him to the vet sometimes 3 times a week. Tried different meds, a varity of foods hoping he would eat again. His condition worsened until he finally stopped eating, lost a lot of weight, and became very weak.

    It was the toughest decision I’ve ever had to make but choose to let Charlie rest in peace. We don’t think he would have made it a few more weeks (or days). He was so loyal to the end, I would take off work just to sit on my swing and hold him, to pet him, to talk to him, to walk with him in the yard, to take care of him. Finally,it was time to let him go with honor by euthanasia. A tough decision but I don’t regret the choice we made for Charlie.

    I (we) didn’t want him to die alone, I was everything to him, no matter how sick he got towards the end he would manage to get up and walk to the back door to greet me, no matter how long it took or how painful. So when he breathed his last at the vets, we were there to hold him, to pet him, to whisper in his ear, to love him, to let him know we were with him until the end; to let him rest while he still has some diginity. I (we) love and miss him so much, he’s buried in the back yard with a grave marker, and a forver light. Charlie, we miss you so. Your sister and brother do too!

    [Reply]

  30. Carlyn3676 says:

    I totally agree with this article. One and a half years ago I had to assist my Best friend of 12 years to Doggie Heaven. Jazzie had breast cancer in four of her titts. She had already gone through an operation 6 months earlier to have three removed for the same thing. I would have been selish to force her to endure that ordeal over again. Even though I cryed for a week afterwards I feel I did what best for her, not for myself.

    I took her to the vet’s and he gave her an overdose of sleeping medicne.
    She was gone in about 20 seconds. She fell to sleep in my arms. Evenhough this way is too expencive for some people. I couldn’t use a bullet.

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  31. Ventjockey says:

    To bad that those of us in the medical profession cannot treat humans as nicely as we treat our pets. Life is tough but part of living is dying. Prolonging care is not always in the patients best interest.

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  32. David Falkner says:

    I got a GSD from a non repurtibul kennel. Sorry, may have spelled that incorrectly. In any event, she was 15, and my landlord at the time told me that while I was at work, she just lay in the sun and cried. One morning, while getting ready for work, she didn’t surface when I went out to feed my King Parrots. Back in the house, she was laying on the guest bed in the guest room, which she wasn’t allowed in. She looked up at me, knowing she would be in trouble, and I quietly sat down next to her and gave her a pat at which point she growled at me, so I knew she wasn’t well. Had to put her down, she died in my arms. A year later I got another, who had an incurable disease, had blood samples sent to America, after many months of trying to find a cure to no avail. He also died in my arms…he was 14. I tried. The most difficult thing I’ve ever had to do following burying my Wife, 20 years ago.
    I now have a couple of young ones, one black & tan, the other Jet Black. So far they’re showing no signs of sickness, but they both came with papers of high quality parentage.
    Dave

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  33. Wretch says:

    What a touching story? What you say makes good sense. Down here on the Mexican border we have many stray dogs and feral cats. Some come walking right up to you, beggging to be cared for. We have wonderful rescue agencies for animals here in El Paso. But I have a thoroughbred schnauzer with papers and all that; he gets superb care and far too much spoiling and love. We have a dog park where he can run with the big dogs or smaller ones who will tolerate him. Now ten, I know his days are numbered, but his vet and I are keeping our eyes on him. I would order euthanazia only at the last possible moment. Whether I could hang around to see him go . . . well, that’s another difficult bridge I’ll have to cross.

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  34. Tania says:

    While this article is written for dogs, it applies to cats, too. I have witnessed plenty of times when euthanasia felt right because the dog or cat was suffering so much. I have seen people wait way too long to make the decision to euthanize their elderly, ill pet to the point where that pet is nothing but skin and bones and pain and misery. And thinking about how these pets would be “saved” by being held in a No Kill facility indefinitely, tears at my heart. Euthanasia is not an easy decision, and it shouldn’t be, but quality of life is more important than quantity of years living. Thank you for this article. Hopefully the information and insight will open the eyes of more people who were like you in the beginning.

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  35. mary ann sloman-o'driscoll says:

    Try to see waring the suffering dog’s shoes like me. I can barely type n my days on-line r numbered. I’m near the last stages of MS. Dispite all the technology n great people I’m dependant on, my fatigue n unbarable pain, intense never ending unsatisfied itches, choking, urinary incontinence, chronic constipation, blindness n anxiety from not being able to move, to name a few, n then looking forward to not being able to comunicate at all like Annette Funicello in her last 5 or so years, make me wish I ended my self while I was still able to. So the best I can legally do to at shorten this cruel existence, is choose not to have feeding tubes n life support of any kind, but have been told by a loved one that if she has any say, I’ll be kept alive even against my will, just like it was for her old wasting quadriplegic dog who was spoiled best as possible, but who was forced to live n couldn’t ask to be adjusted or moved for comfort sake, or anything. My mouth still works for now, and as kind as people try to be (n sometimes not be too), life like this is just too painful and hard. I am forced to suffer till I die of it. I’ve always hated euthanasia, but now I see it as mercy.

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  36. Lynda says:

    Your article is one of the most thought provoking I have read on the subject. I agree with you on all points. Unfortunately, humans are the ones who have to make the difficult decision when a pet is too sick and when it’s time to let go and do what’s best for the animal not the human, There were so many times I heard a person say that s/he waited too long and the dog or cat suffered for too long.

    My first dog was 13 when began to faint often. He would walk a little bit and then faint. It was his heart and the digitalis wasn’t working. He probably could have lived a little longer, but he wouldn’t have enjoyed things. My mother made the decision because she was afraid of coming home one day and finding him in severe pain or dead. Was it the right decision? We think for the sake of the dog, yes. For me no, I wanted him around more.

    Sometimes the decision is made for us. I was away and my cat had a stroke. My friend brought him to the vet and he had three more stokes during the night. The vet she told me he wouldn’t recover and was acting like a mad cat in his cage.

    For six months I was giving my second cat fluids three times a week for his kidneys. He got thinner but he wasn’t suffering. He told me when it was time. I gave him all of his favorite foods and when he didn’t eat for three days, I knew.

    It was a bit easier, and no less sad, for me because the pets were sick and suffering. If only we could do the same for people, but that’s a different conversation.

    I volunteered at the Humane Society and saw a large GSD in a cage. He had been there for three years because he was aggressive and was brought back three times when people adopted him. The decision was that he was never going to be able to be given to a family. The dog was four with a life expectancy of 12-13. Is it better for the dog to be kept in a cage with no exercise for 9 years?. The would be inhumane.

    Thank you for the article.

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  37. Samantha says:

    This is a good article. Best Friends is a wonderful sanctuary for all kinds of animals. They will work with the animals from vet care, surgery if needed and get as many ready for adoption as possible otherwise they have a forever home at the sanctuary.

    Last September I had to make one of the hardest decisions to euthanize my chow/akita mix. His name was Sabre and he was having difficulty walking and we found out he had some kind of muscle weakening going on. There was no cure and our Vet said to prepare ourselves. I just couldn’t let him suffer anymore. My husband and I hugged him as the vet gently helped him cross over the rainbow bridge. He was always by my side and I miss him very much but I also believe in heaven and I know when my time is up Sabre will be there along with the other 3 dogs Alex, Shane and Sylvie)and probably a few more to welcome me home.

    I do believe it is the right thing to do when an animal is suffering.

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  38. I once read that if we could pick our relatives like we pick our dogs the world could be a better place. At my age I had no intention to adopt a dog, didn’t want the commitment, responsibility, time involved and other selfish reasons.

    My thought was to volunteer at my local animal shelter. That way I can be with dogs, leave and have no responsibilities. After almost 3 years of volunteering, in came BUDDY…..I don’t have to write more…….

    He is a mix Parson Border Terrier and Lab now about 1 1/2 years old and extremely intelligent.
    Recently Buddy was attacked at a Bark Park and required stitches in 7 areas of his body. I took Buddy to an Animal Hospital and he is now recovering at our home. He will be OK.

    Being a senior Marine Veteran with a disability Buddy is also my Service Dog. In the months we have become Best Friends Buddy has shown Unconditional Love. Now it’s my turn and I do it with the same love and devotion I would give a brother Marine who was wounded.

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  39. marilynn says:

    Very good article. About the spaying and nuetering, I agree. In our area we also find litters of dogs or cats, or sometimes grown animals the are dumped off out of town. People from town drive out in the rural areas thinking that some farmer will take them in. Part of this is laziness, and part is the cost of the fixing the animal. In a economic depressed area like ours sometimes people just can’t foot the bill. I am not saying its ok, just letting you know why this sometimes happens.

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  40. Natalie Widosmki says:

    Well written article. After 15.5 years I had to put my beloved Dakota who was a handsome Yellow lab to sleep. And I believe he is in Heaven waiting for me as the bible does say that the lion and lamb will be together in Heaven:) My heart breaks for those poor animals just waiting to be adopted. I can’t walk into any animal shelter, I just weep. 2 out of the 3 of my kids are rescue and I usually go to a Petsmart when I know they have adoption day. I completely agree that we are too selfish and that we should never comprise the quality of life because we can’t let go. The day Dakota couldn’t get up anymore was the last day. I totally recommend at home Euthanasia, its so much more peaceful and you cry your eyes out in the privacy of your own home. I live in Arizona and people just dump animals in the desert , even horses. How I wish I could do the same to those folks, just once so they can understand the horror of leaving an animal that totally relies on you to walk away, sickening…..

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  41. Concetta Martinez says:

    My daughter brought home “Rachel” at about 9 months old. She was a Flat Coat Retriever mix and looked just like one. I found her on my back deck, on a leash, with a note taped to the door explaining, this was Rachel and if we didn’t take her in, she was going to the Dog Pound as her friends Aunt(the owner) died and no one else could or would take care of her. My kids brought home all of our pets:) At first, I was angry, as after our last beloved dog, Benny, had to be put to sleep, I swore I would never go through that pain again. However, the moment I saw this dog, my heart leaped. Fast forward, 14 years, wonderful years, she developed diabetes 3 yrs before she finally passed away, and that meant special food, injections 2X a day, but she did well until the very end when she started having convulsions daily and had problems standing and did not even know when she had a bowel movement. I knew she was not long for this world and within 2 months of the onset of these symptoms we were On the way to an emergency vets at midnight,after having another fit which was not ending in a few minutes, she passed away in the back seat. Of course, emotionally, it was terrible, but a relief at the same time, that she was with us when she passed and that the decision to put her to sleep was taken out of my hands. As I knew she would not be coming back from the Vets even if we had made it there. However, this time, I knew when I was ready, I would be adopting another dog. This would be to HONOR Rachel’s life. So, 1yr later, passing by an Adopt a Dog day at a large shopping mall,I stopped by and immediately fell in love again. Her name is Annie, she is an AMerican Fox Hound/Ger. Sheph/Gold Ret mix, was 20lbs when we got her at 3months, is now just over a year oldand 68lbs of boundless energy and love. Whatever the future holds, we will go through it and I will live in the present everyday I have with her. When and if the time comes, she has an incurable disease,is in pain, I will not let her live with that. In the meantime, I will pray she dies of old age in her sleep, after a long and loving life, which exactly what we all ask for.

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  42. Judy Ramsey says:

    I’ve only had to have 2 dogs “put to sleep” in 50 years of dog ownership. A male and a female, both Dalmatians. I had Dominoe 14 years when his spine just collapsed. I rushed him to my vet and told her to do anything possible for my dog. She told me what his problem was and assured me he was in no pain, he just lost the use of his back legs. She gave him a 50/50 chance for improvement. If I wanted to proceed with the treatment, she’d have to keep him there and give him injections in his spine. I told her if there’s a chance of any kind to do what ever it took. She called me 3 days later and told me the shots didn’t work and I needed to come in, she had something to discuss with me. I told her I’d be there in half an hour, but there was no need to discuss having Dominoe put to sleep with her, if that’s what she wanted to talk about. She said, it was. I thanked her and told her Dominoe had made that decision a long time ago by being the proud, protective dog he was. He would not want to live being unable to even get up to relieve himself. I told her I could never let him suffer like that. I was shocked when she told me I didn’t need to come in , she’d take care of everything. I told her she’d be taking care of everything, but I’d be holding my little boy while she did it. How could anyone let their pet die alone! I loved my dog and I made sure Dominoe had a good life, but everything I gave him didn’t even come close to what he gave me. It’s been almost 15 years since Dominoe died and I still miss him. I got my female Dal about 4 months after Dominoe died. I do love Dalmatians. I lost my Ember, right before Christmas, I had her for 13 years. Dominoe and Ember looked just alike, both had beautiful spots but the likeness stopped there, they were as different as night and day. Dominoe was a protecter and Ember was just a sweet little girl that loved everybody. Both were AKC registered, which to me meant nothing, I didn’t even get their papers when I adopted them. I got Dominoe after his owners left him with a neighbor and never returned, I got Ember because her owner found out she was allergic to dogs. I will never buy or sell a dog, too many need homes. My Ember was a puppy for 11 years. She played with anybody or any animal that came along and was always excited and happy. She started slowing down when she turned 11. At 12, she started having trouble going up and down the stairs. She started hurting soon afer that. She would moan when she got up and she couldn’t get on the bed anymore. One day she looked at me and the sparkle was gone

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  43. Angel says:

    While reading the different views in reference to euthanization, I noticed that dogs were often compared to humans. Therefore, what we do for humans we can also do for dogs. If an individual is suffering, we find some kind of care instead of killing or let the individual suffer in a locked room. Dogs deserve to live a long life regardless of how adoptable they are. Let them die a natural death and we will see them again in heaven. I don’t believe in unwanted animals long suffering. So, let us do the natural thing and find programs, donations, homes, spay/neuter laws, advertisement etc. just like we would for humans. Dogs are God’s creation, so let Him decide when they leave planet Earth.

    Spell DOG backwards….GOD.

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  44. GrannyM says:

    I would like to add another comment in regard to the (what I consider unethical) practices at some “shelters”. I don’t know if things like this still go on today…I would hope NOT…but when we were stationed at Ford Hood, TX back in 1989, we had adopted a little Retriever/Mix puppy from the local animal shelter there. This little girl was probably the smartest puppy I have ever encountered. We brought her home just before noon, and by 8pm that evening she had already learned to scratch at the back door when she needed to go out. We spent several beautiful days with her, she was so affectionate and eager to learn and to please. On day 5, however, she suddenly started to become slow and lethargic. That night, she scratched at the back door, telling us that she wanted to go outside. She barely made it through the door before she started to vomit violently. At first we suspected she might have eaten or come in contact with something outside that made her sick, but when she started to vomit blood the next morning, I took her to the Vet immediately. The diagnosis was Parvo, and according to the Vet she had to have already been infected at the time we adopted her from the shelter. Since she was so young, the vet gave her only a 5% chance of maybe surviving it, by staying at the animal hospital for at least a few weeks at $250 cost per DAY. As a young Military family there was simply no way we could afford this (no matter how much we might have wanted to), so we followed the Vet’s recommendation to have her put to sleep. The decision of letting her go was hard enough, but the reaction I got from the animal shelter when I informed them of what had happened was almost worse. She had been one of a litter of 7 puppies, all housed together in the SAME CAGE at this shelter, and the Vet insisted that it was absolutely necessary to inform the shelter that our puppy had been diagnosed with Parvo as her siblings were likely to have contracted the disease as well. I dreaded the thought of anyone else having to go through the heart-break that our family had just gone through, so I immediately alerted this shelter, only to be told that they had neither the time nor the funds to test the other puppies for Parvo. They “offered” to replace her for us with one of her siblings or any other dog of our choice from their facility…an “offer” we firmly declined for obvious reasons. I still get upset, even after all this time, just thinking about the callus and cold-hearted attitude of this shelter’s manager, and I truly pity any dog (or cat) that ended up in this particular facility. I only hope this shelter was an exception to the norm.

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  45. Bella S. says:

    I love this article. I am against “no kill” shelters that overcrowd and lead dogs to miserable lives in cages. However, I do not support “kill” shelters which kill for space and money. It isn’t fair for young and happy dogs- adoptable dogs – are injected and their fresh, new, futuristic life is ripped away from their paws. I support shelters who only inject dogs for aggression, sickness, and reasonable causes. Today, I put my beagle and corgi mix in a boarding place, I get fixed and get his proper shots and nails trimmed, Etc. What kind of disturbed me was, they let the dogs roam around FREELY. I wonder if any dogs are aggressive or not. I suppose probably not, but you can never be too sure nowadays.

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  46. Megan says:

    Minette, I applaud your honesty and pragmatism. My daughter and I foster for a rescue, and I have had many dogs in my household. Only one of our dogs was adopted by a professional trainer. That woman knew exactly what she was looking for, temperament tested the dog, and ran him through some training exercises – she had a skillset and experience. Many dogs we place are with first-time owners. Some are experienced dog owners, but most of them would not be successful with a dog with significant issues, nor would most of them want a dog with issues. There are some dogs that, because of different reasons, are not suitable pets.

    I ran into a gentleman while hiking one day that had two extremely agitated and aggressive large dogs that he was having difficulty controlling. I talked to him briefly about his dogs and suggested some resources to help him. He adopted them from a shelter that required him to sign a release to take the dogs. He felt the dogs should be “saved” and took on a situation he did not have the wherewithal to remedy. These are two dangerous dogs that should have been euthanized and now pose a threat to society. What if they ever escape? It is heartbreaking for the adopter with a problem dog when they cannot help the dog, it is too disruptive to their lives, or too dangerous and they end up returning or euthanizing the dog.

    I have an American Staffordshire-X that I agreed to foster after being told he did very well on his temperament test. He was extremely agitated, difficult to handle, exhibited aggression, and started nipping after a few days. He has made significant progress, but it has taken two years to get him to his present level. I have spent a significant amount of time with him, classes every Sunday for over a year, and a chunk of money. I do not think I would do it again. On the other hand, my daughter is fostering a hoarder dog that I thought was not salvageable when she first got her, but she is going to be a wonderful pet.

    Whenever I see a story about a dog/dogs that maimed or killed a person, I always wonder what signs were missed, or in most cases, ignored. In a neighboring community a 2-year-old boy was killed by his grandfather’s dogs that the neighbors had been complaining about for years because they were often left to run loose and behaved aggressively. He had five pit bulls that he “rescued” because he could not stand the thought of them being euthanized. He did not have the resources, time, or skills to adequately care for them, and the consequences were tragic. The statistics for pits are sobering. They have very little chance of walking out the front door of a shelter. I also have a pit bull (that I love), and I often hear the line “there is no such thing as a bad pit bull just bad owners.” That may be the case, but because of indiscriminant breeding, neglect, abuse, and stupid, stupid people some of them are not suitable pets.

    It is heartbreaking to think about the dogs that through no fault of their own have no options other than dying in a shelter. I have great respect for the people that make those difficult decisions and do the right thing for the dog and sometimes for us. I could not do what they do. For many people a dog is merely a commodity, and until we respect them for the creatures they are and care for them the way they should be cared for, this debate will continue.

    Spay and neuter, spay and neuter …

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Agreed! Thanks for sharing

    [Reply]

  47. Anne says:

    It is a myth that there are more dogs than there are homes for. Just do a search for “pet overpopulation myth”. One of the sites which will come up is this one: http://www.nathanwinograd.com/?p=14244 in which HSUS admits this very fact.

    Why is this important? If every dog in this country was altered, what would be the result? No more dogs!!! So mandatory spay/neuter is not the answer.

    Long time trainers are now seeing more problem dogs coming into shelters than they did in the past. This is because spay/neuter programs have been too successful. People who have nice, family type dogs are getting them altered so they aren’t reproducing. It’s the irresponsible people who have the type of dogs known as “junkyard dogs” who are letting their dogs breed and these are the type of dogs which are taking up the space in shelters. Most of these are not adoptable because they have not been bred for good temperaments.

    What is the answer? I wish I knew. Mandatory spay/neuter is not the answer. Targeting RESPONSIBLE breeders is not the answer. Targeting backyard breeders who breed their well behaved, well cared for, family pets is not the answer. We need more good tempered dogs, not less.

    FYI, I am not a breeder and have never bred a litter of dogs. All my dogs are rescues and are all s/n. Just wanted to throw these things out there because I want people to be aware of these issues.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    You would realize those statistics weren’t true if you spent time in shelters. There are too many dogs for good homes. Dogs get euthanized in the hundreds every day because of this. I wish they were more of a hot commodity but they aren’t.

    Spay and neuter is still important. There will always be breeders breeding; it is the unintended breedings people need to avoid! Never will all dogs in this country be altered, it is a nice thought but simply not attainable.

    [Reply]

  48. Christal says:

    That has always been my biggest struggle as well, Roberta. You never want to wait too long and cause unnecessary pain, but you also don’t want to do it too early, and rob them off good times they might have left. It’s tough.

    [Reply]

  49. Christal says:

    I don’t buy into this Nathan Winograd stuff. In fact, he banned me from their Facebook page for questioning this idea.

    I live in Alabama, and I am very active in the animal welfare community. I can tell you, because I have seen it first hand, that pet overpopulation exists.

    Also, I don’t think letting any dog of good temperament breed is acceptable at all. A great deal of the dogs in shelters are fantastic dogs. I know that because every single dog I have had over the last 20 years has come from a shelter or rescue. They were all fantastic. The message you send is one that we in the rescue community have been working against for a long time, and that is that shelter dogs are broken. They aren’t. Many times, it’s a human’s fault why they end up in the shelter.

    The reason you see poorly bred dogs in shelters is because those breeders sell to any and everybody. It is a very rare occasion that you see a well bred dog in a shelter, because those dogs came from breeders that screened their buyers AND they have clauses in the contract that mandates the dog be returned to them if the new owner cannot keep it for any reason.

    My biggest issue is that 90% of the time, the people that pitch the biggest fits about shelters euthanizing for space are the same people that can’t possible foster or volunteer. They want changes made, but god forbid, they be the ones to put forth any effort to make that change happen.

    [Reply]

  50. Christal says:

    Our local shelter euthanizes for space, but they are also open intake. They don’t get to turn dogs away because they are full.

    Like you mention, they do start with the dogs and cats that are sick or have behavior issues. Many days, that is good enough to make the space needed for the next day.

    Sometimes, it isn’t. Those are the days where I know the employees really have a hard time deciding. It’s easy to decide to euthanize the dog that tries to eat your face. It’s much harder when all the dogs in the shelter could be euthanized, if you only had the space and time,

    This shelter recently changed directors, and they have made great strides, though. She uses her weekends to put together fundraisers. They do community outreach and education. She cleaned house and has made sure the staff is up to par. She has a staff of very compassionate people that bust their bottoms daily trying to make sure as many of these critters make it out and into rescue or loving families.

    [Reply]

  51. Christal says:

    I, personally, prefer to be with my pets. However, if you feel you can’t maintain your composure, it is probably best you don’t go. It will only stress the animal out more if you are a hot mess, and many vets will ask that you leave.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    I have never seen a vet ask someone to leave. Being emotional is expected, and when the dog is sick and ready for euthanasia he is much less concerned about your emotional state. It is much more terrifying to be alone in a vet clinic with people he doesn’t know or trust.

    [Reply]

  52. Christal says:

    GrannyM, I am terribly sorry that you had that experience, but, unfortunately, that is a fairly common practice for shelters, especially those that are underfunded and in rural areas.

    The entire litter being housed together happens in just about every shelter I have ever been in. Many animal control facilities can be a little drafty, so it’s better for the pups to stay together to keep warm. It also leaves more kennels open for other dogs.

    Due to the nature of shelters, they cannot guarantee that the dog you adopt will be healthy. Unfortunately, communicable diseases often run rampant in shelters, no matter how diligent the staff is. It is for this reason that I quarantine any dog I get from a shelter for at least 10 days

    It’s good that you alerted the shelter that the puppies had clearly been exposed to parvo. Unfortunately, testing all of the pups is not an option for many shelters. The parvo test can be expensive, and many shelters don’t even have a vet on staff. In Alabama, the vet board has stopped issuing premise permits for vets to work for shelters.

    If our local shelter is informed a puppy tests positive for parvo, they will notify any families that adopted from that litter. If pups remain at the shelter, they will continue to monitor them for signs of the disease.

    [Reply]

  53. Larry Yoder says:

    I had to put my 14 year old Lab Mix, Molly, down because she was blocked probably with cancer (two prior operations for lump removal) Couldn’t eat of go bathroom. Hardest decision I ever made. Had the vet come to our house and she passed in my arms. Now adopted another Lab Whippet mix – sent from Heaven, just turned one year old.

    [Reply]

  54. Susan says:

    I totally agree with this article. Last year I spent 5 month searching to rescue a dog to train, and hopefully pass her tests, for therapy work for CHOC. I spent many hours, on-line, looking for a dog with the right temperament and found that there are a lot of dogs disfigured, needing extremely expensive surgeries and other undesirable needs that are being kept alive. While money is being spent on animals that don’t or won’t have any type of “quality life” other animals that are totally adoptable are being put down. We need to use our common sense when it comes to the number of animals being bred every year for the love or need or money and…in worst case scenarios simply due to irresponsible pet owners. I have had to euthanize a number of animals due to illnesses and it’s a very hard thing to do, but unfortunately the alternative can be way worse for the animal. Sometimes it’s just part of being an adult. And…the worst part of being a pet owner.

    [Reply]

  55. Sharon Christy says:

    Thanks for clarifying the difference between regular shelters and no kill shelters. I’ve often wondered how they differ. I’m a total pushover when it comes to dogs. My kids and I have had four rescue dogs over the years in addition to dogs we got from breeders (all of them have been spayed/neutered). I’ve had to have two of my dogs euthanized and it was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do but both of them were very ill and weren’t going to get better. I presently have a year-old female Golden Retriever that is a handful but she adds so much to my life. Thank you for all of the informative articles that you provide.

    [Reply]

  56. Debi says:

    I am from Ontario Canada and believe it or not they have high kill shelters here that the public can not adopt from. It has to be a licensed shelter. Now try to make sense of that.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    There is no sense in that 🙁 very, very sad 🙁

    [Reply]

  57. Sharyn says:

    I just recently had to make the tough decision to put down my Shih Tsu who was almost 13. I chose to do it now before she was so too ill because I didn’t do that with the dog I had before her. I promised myself to never let another pet suffer just because I didn’t want to let them go. The kindest thing you can do is give them peace. Yes, I miss her every day (and so does my other dog…her buddy) but I also know that I saved her from suffering.
    I also want to thank you for clarifying the difference between shelters. I didn’t know what no kill shelters do. Sad.

    [Reply]

  58. Maybeth says:

    euthanasia is the kindest thing we can do for our beloved four pawed friends. I have lived a long life and had several beautiful canine family members over the years. I never wanted to be the one to decide when it was time… So I asked the powers that be, to let my pet show me when they were no longer able to enjoy the day… when that time came,though a part of my heart went with them, I took them to My trusted vet,who had been through this with me on several occasions. And with Kindness,compassion,and mercy,my vet administered the injection,while I held and did my best to comfort my sweet companion… For all the joy,and unconditional love they give to us,this is what we can give when the time comes… The courage to not let them suffer.

    [Reply]

  59. Lee Ann Lynn says:

    I totally agree with this article. I have a twenty year old rescue that still loves to go to potty and never fails to remind me it is time to eat. Same with my 16 year old . My other old rescue, he was 14 when I rescued him, had since passed on. To me “Old Dogs Rule.” I have younger ones, I have the room. I live on a farm and train dogs to herd sheep. I wouldn’t trade a minute of my time to be with another person outside of my husband. My dogs make my life. When the time comes I will make that decision and hold their paw as they travel OTRB. ❤❤

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  60. Priscilla says:

    I WAS SITTING HERE CRYING WHEN I CAME UPON THIS. I LOST MY BABY,BEST FRIEND AND LOVE 8 1/2 MONTHS AGO,TO PANCREATIC CANCER.THEY PUT HIM DOWN AT HOME HE DIED UNDER MY ARM.HE WAS SHEPARD -LAB.IT’S STIL HARD FOR ME,BUT IF YOU TRULY TO THE DEPTHS OF YOUR SOUL LOVE SOMEONE YOU WON’T LET THEM SUFFER.

    [Reply]

  61. Grace says:

    If you are a true dog lover you will agree with everything said in this article.
    Stop and really think about what was said. It is all so true.

    [Reply]

  62. Maryann Belcher says:

    I agree completely. I currently have my fourth Lab. I love my dogs. I have had to have 3 euthanized because of medical issues which could be corrected or caused constant pain. Letting a dog remain in pain to “keep them with you” is selfish and for you not for the dog. When I could admit that I was doing this with my 3rd lab, I had to have her Euthanized and held her in my lab while she went peacefully to sleep. Then both my husband and I cried for OUR loss.

    It is tough! I believe that all three will be healthy and happy in Heaven until we get there.

    [Reply]

  63. Jo says:

    The word euthanasia applies when the animal is sick and there is no cure. It does not apply when the reason is lack of space or other…..The right word in such cases is killing the animal not euthanasia.

    [Reply]

  64. Judy says:

    I’ve had to put down a number of my fur babies. I’d say I do it a long time after it should have been done. I put down my 14 year old schnauzer, holding him in my arms while the vet gave the injections. The vet cried with us. (I’m tearing up now). I love the idea of seniors for seniors. It is so smart. Taking care of puppies is tough but putting two older together is so smart.

    [Reply]

  65. Janet says:

    Whenever you get any animal, there will come a day when as a responsible owner, you will make a life or death decision for your pets. I’m 65, I lived on a farm with all kinds of pets. Goats, chickens, horses, cows, Guinea hens, a 550lb female pig, cats and dogs. I’m a huge animal lover. Living in the country is such a great way to raise children and enjoy having pets of all kinds. My dogs and cats were always spayed and neutered. On several occasions people would drop their unwanted pets in our field. Cats and dogs mostly. I would find homes for them or they would become part of the farm. The cats would almost always be pregnant. Someone even dropped a sick dog at the end of our property with a can of dog food and a can opener. Go figure. We lived less than half a mile from our shelter. Having to put any animal down is the worst part of pet ownership. It’s a heartbreak that lasts forever. Over the years I’ve had to do this more times than I’d like to count. Like people, animals get cancers and have health issues that can’t be cured. This article is not a fun one to read because it brings to mind our special friends that have passed on. As I’m remembering my pets that are no longer here and why, I’ve got tears of pain but I’ve also got tears of joy. Remembering how special and irritating they were at times is a joy that far outweighs that final visit to our vet. Thanks for your article, Minette, as always, professional and informative.

    [Reply]

  66. Carolyn Alexander says:

    The person who spoke of many high kill shelters in Canada which does not permit adoptions made me wonder………Why is it called a shelter? That would be a slaughter house for dogs in my opinion.

    [Reply]

  67. I had to put down My beloved pom because of kidney failure. I have to admit that it was the hardest decision I have every had to make. She was a ponaraine and only 9 year old. I pray even night that she is happy and in the arm of the lord. I miss her dearly and wish I could of had another alternative but I feel that I made the right call. I know she is no longer suffering and is happy where ever she is today . I know she will be waiting for me as I enter the gates of haven.

    [Reply]

  68. Kim says:

    I had three beautiful Chow Chows who lived long and happy lives. However, all three of them got different types of cancer after they turned 14. I tried chemo therapy with the first dog, and believe that it was a horrible mistake. She suffered longer than she should have but my husband wanted to give her every chance to live. My dad had just passed away, four weeks previously, when I made the decision that she’d had enough. My husband hid on the side of the house when I took her to the car. He couldn’t bear the thought of her dying because he loved her so much. I, on the other hand, saw putting her to sleep as a gift I could give her. The cancer had blinded her and she was very unwell. I stayed with her while she passed away, and it absolutely broke my heart, as I was already in a very fragile state because of my dad. I cried so much I thought I’d never stop and it took a while before I was composed enough to drive home. After that I promised myself I’d NEVER try heroic measures with a sick dog again. With my other two Chows I simply knew when it was time. You’ll know in your heart, if you’re thinking about your dog and not yourself, when the time has come. They all passed away in my arms, with the sound of my voice in their ear, reassuring them how much I loved them.
    I now have three adorable Pomeranians and they are the light of my life! They’re reached middle age, and I always have it in the back of my mind that I may have to go through the same thing with them. But I will give them the gift of release when the time comes. I will never consider my emotions over my dog’s quality of life. They’ve given me so much, and I will give them that special gift, if required, when the time comes.

    [Reply]

  69. Kim says:

    I just thought of a horrible horror story my husband had to witness while working on a natural gas pipeline in Arizona. The daytime temperatures were up to 118 F and people were dumping their unwanted animals on the side of the highway which lead to California. Some of them put up tarps, left some water and food, then just took off and left their pet alone in that ungodly heat. He said this was an almost daily occurrence. How heartless and selfish is that? My hubby, and other pipeline workers, would collect as many of these animals as they could and call animal control to come and pick them up. Even if they were euthanized after that, it’s a much better way to go than dying of thirst & starvation, on the side of the road in the desert. Also, a lot of them were hit and killed on that same road. Fortunately, several of the workers took the dogs and cats in and “adopted” them on their own. They were mostly healthy, friendly young animals that people simply didn’t want. His crew boss actually adopted two cats my husband had been feeding and, after having them spayed/neutered, he sent them home to his family. This horrible practice seems to be common no matter where my husband is assigned. For some reason, people seem to think that the pipeliners should take care of their unwanted animals. While he was working in a state back east, there were TWO different litters of tiny kittens dumped onto the porch of the house where he was staying. He’s such an old softie that he convinced the other guys living there to take them in and pay to have them neutered & spayed when they were old enough. After that they all worked together to find good homes for every one of those kittens.

    I’m originally from Colorado where animal control is very strict. I now live in the desert Southwest, and can’t believe some of the things I see happening here. I see strays, at least once a week, running around loose out in traffic. I try to get the animals safely into my car and call animal control whenever I can. If I can’t catch them, I call animal control, and let them know where I last saw the animal. People also dump puppies & dogs on the railroad tracks near where I take my evening runs. I’ve had to call animal control many times to come and pick them up, as well. What’s also horrible is that I see so many dogs chained out in the yard, in the desert heat, and they never receive any interaction with their owners. They just sit on the end of that chain, staring at nothing, and that’s all there is to their life. Why get a pet if you’re going to do something like that to it? If it’s not going to be part of the family, don’t bother. I’m so tired of seeing dogs and cats running loose, run over on the road, or totally neglected by their owners.

    Our little Poms hang out on the sofa with us while we’re watching movies, go for daily walks, play fetch in the backyard, eat the best food available and sleep in bed with us at night! In short, their our children and return our care tenfold with unconditional love!

    I can’t understand why anyone would want a pet if they weren’t going to keep it and make it a part of the family. And if you don’t want your pet, take it to the shelter instead of dumping it on the side of the road. I believe that it’s much better to euthanize an animal than leave it to a horrible fait like that!

    [Reply]

  70. Faye says:

    Makes some well-thought-out points. Has created good options to extend the lives of healthy adoptable dogs too.

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  71. Marianne Donner says:

    One of the very best articles I’ve ever read. I’ve been involved in breeding pure bred dogs for over 55 years. I started at age 4 helping my grandfather with his 13 inch Beagles and my uncle with his Irish Setters. I emptied water bowls and got to pet and help groom the dogs. Little did I know I was helping socialize the animals. As I grew I became more involved and “chose my breeds.” First Golden Retrievers for 25 years, then Clumber Spaniels and Skye Terriers now for almost 30 years.

    I have always been with my dogs when they are no longer having quality of life and I do what my two mentors, one of whom was a surgeon, told me. “Often the kindest thing we who love our dogs do for them, is the hardest thing we do for us. When a dog has served you well with love, companionship, and in the field, you owe it to him not let him suffer. It is your duty to be an unselfish shepherd and to let one of God’s finest creations return to Him.” So whether the dog involved is a purebred or a mixed breed, he/she deserves a dignified exit from this earth to God’s green meadows.

    [Reply]

  72. Marilyn says:

    Back in November of 2015 I took my little Maltese to the vet and in my discussion with her I asked her how do you know when to put a dog down. She replied that if the dog is getting along okay, she saw no reason to put it down. I came to regret taking her advise in February of this year, when the dog became sick in the middle of the night and She had to suffer for about 4 hours before she died. I had planned to take her to the 24 Hour Emergency Clinic since it was on a weekend, but unfortunately she died before I could take her.

    It was the most horrible time of my life. She had a bad heart, a collapsed trachea and a problem with her liver. She could not be operated on for the collapsed trachea because of her heart. In my lifetime I have had to have three dogs put to sleep. It is infinitely better to do that than to watch one suffer when you cannot do anything to help them. To this day I still cry everyday thinking about how much she suffered before she died. No animal should have to suffer that much. Do the right thing.

    [Reply]

  73. Bob says:

    I believe that an animal has a quality of life right just like humans. To allow either one to continue undue suffering is not right and should not be allowed. I have known people who have allowed their pets to continue on when they should have long ago been put down. They say that they love the animal too much to do that. This is just being selfish on their part and that if they really loved the pet that much, they would not allow it to suffer like this. SPAYand NEUTER your pets.

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  74. ginag says:

    I felt it necessary to have my 9 year old female shepherd pit mix euthanized. Her joint problems were actually getting better and now was able to perch on top of the fence and threaten the neighbors dog. She was level 2 with animal control for going after little dogs and nipping them. I think it was killing the possum in the backyard which ignited predatory behavior.after years of taking her to dog parks I no longer could as she would attack other dogs. And on leash she killed a squirrel 2 ft in front of me. Not being able to exercise her properly affected her quality of life of course and my fear was eventually she would do something unforgivable and animal control would drag her away to a cold cell and put her down.so I made a difficult decision to put her down at my vet where I was sure she was comfortable.I had to have her evaluated by a vet behaviorist for 300 first though and last thing he said was to put her down if she continued with her behavior.feel guilty as she had some great qualities but she was dangerous to other dogs.

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  75. Coyote says:

    I started our rescue organization about eight years ago. Had volunteered for a national organization and pulled and fostered dogs for them for three years.before. We placed 1,000+ dogs and have the ashes of 72 we could not save. Don’t know how much we have spent in money and hours to help make a turn in the number of pets in the shelter, but I do know we spent thousands to help improve the conditions there. Unfortunately it keeps going back to ground zero. So we have two dogs left to place and I am closing our rescue. Rescue is tough because you care.

    [Reply]

  76. Mrs.Ramya.K says:

    Halo Minette
    How are you? I use to read regularly your articles because I am also very fond of dogs. Not only dogs but all animals. But here when I saw the black dog my eyes are filled with tears.So pity . I don’t know how he/or she is tolerating. God only must save him through you.

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  77. Kathryn Coburn says:

    Totally agree with the article.

    I had been dreading the day when I was going to have to make the “euthanasia decision” with my beloved doggie. When the day came, the experience was beautiful and sacred and I felt blessed that I was chosen to be with Sammi, holding and loving him, while he passed to the great beyond, ending the pain he had been enduring for years.

    I felt that I had grown up through the process and learned a great lesson.

    [Reply]

  78. This is a great article. I will share my experience because I also believe that my pets will be waiting for me in the after world. I’ve had Lab’s for probably 40 years. I had one die from Cancer, but the one I am about to write about was (what I thought at the time) the best dog/friend in the world. He was about 12 when his hips really started bothering him. The vet even gave me some medication to help with his pain. The last two weeks of his life, I cried every day watching him suffer, but I couldn’t part with him. On a Friday morning, I decided that I could no longer let him suffer. I called my vet and told him I was bringing him in. We had been discussing this for a few months. When I arrived at the vet’s office I was told to go in through the side door and into the examining room. I was shocked to see that the staff had put a comforter on the floor, so that we could lay down together. About 20 minutes later the vet came in and asked if I was ready. I wasn’t but I said yes. They gave him a shot and he went to sleep in my arms. I will never forget that feeling of losing him. I usually got together with some friends on Saturday evening, but that morning when I woke up, I really wasn’t in the mood to go out and enjoy myself. I had just lost my best friend. Later that Saturday I decided that being around other people would probably be the best thing I could do, but I couldn’t get him off my mind. I told a group of friends what had happened and one couple told me that they volunteered at the local shelter and when they were there last week-end there was a Yellow Lab, but they could guarantee that he would still be there. I went to the shelter on Sunday, really not wanting to get another dog, but I would look. The Lab was still there. When we walked to where he was they had his cage door open (this is an important point) and they were putting a leash on him so we could take him outside and walk around with him. He was beautiful, about 1 to 1 1/2 years old. Across from his kennel was a Rodesian Ridgeback. I had heard about them, but had never seen one and was interested in why 1″ straight down his back the fir runs in the opposite direction. I just wanted to see him. As I turned to go back outside, the gate on the kennel where the Lab was, was now closed and his name was on the door “Boby”. Since I am called Bob, I walked outside and told them he was going home with me. In my heart I feel that “Chief” (the Lab I had just put down) was watching out for me. Boby and I have been together for 12 years. I hope he makes it a few more, because he’s my buddy and pal. I to have often wondered why we can help a poor animal that is suffering, but can’t help someone with a serious disease like cancer. The vet gave him the shot, he closed his eyes with his head in my arms and fell asleep. So peaceful, I couldn’t believe it and I cursed myself all that day and the next because I was making him suffer just to please me, and I was being selfish, because I didn’t want to let him go. The only thing I learned was when it’s time let them go, whether it’s done by a vet or natural, don’t continue to make them suffer just to please yourself. Every time he stood up for me, he was in a lot of pain. Don’t let your dog suffer. Both Chief and Boby will be buried with me whenever that time comes. Thanks for the great article and the great memories.

    [Reply]

  79. Jennifer says:

    I truly believe letting our pets go is perhaps the gratest gift we can give them, they gave us their all and than some, never asked for anything just did what their hearts tell them to do. I have let a number of my dogs go and it was very diffcult, however we put ourselves in a position of when……and a majority of us have repeated this diffcult time some many times over it’s never easy but knowing one day we will be runited with all from the past……I know my father is reunited with his Mage, Orvill, Wilbur and Daddys baby Duncan…….I will seee you all again on the oterside of the bridge….until than

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  80. Evelyne says:

    Seeing any animal suffer unnecessarily is heartbreaking. This article and everyone’s comments have brought a huge lump to my throat. In the UK I don’t know that there are two types of shelters – but I may be wrong. I know my two local ones will only keep dogs for a certain time and if not adopted are put to sleep by injection. This is basically murder. My previous dog, Sandy was a Long haired Cairn terrier – a red brindle and he looked like a Scottish Highland cow. When he was 11 he developed cancerous lumps all over his body, they didn’t seem to bother him at all. The vet wanted to surgically remove them all . I was about to reluctantly agree but realised As he had so many he would effectively be butchered. The vets final words were that he might not pull through the operation anyway because of his age! So I refused the op and took him home. When he started to show signs of discomfort some 6 months later we took him to be put to sleep. A very gut wrenching decision but we didn’t want our loyal family pet to suffer. I cried for a week afterwards but know I made the right decision at the right time. I could have selfishly kept for several more months but his quality of life would have been non-existent. . I currently have a Jack Russell Poodle cross who is the light of my life and hope if I have to make a similar decision I wIll have the courage to what is right for her and not for me.

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  81. Marian /Hofmann says:

    I agree so very much that I could have written the article!!!! I fostered a dog who had been in a no kill shelter for TEN YEARS….I had him for the next 2 and a half years till he died, but it was a miracle that he didn t will himself to death…..
    I always encourage everyone to ADOPT NOT SHOP. Until people stop breeding ( I hate breeders, even the so called legal and responsible ones because they really DONT GET IT…..) There is just too many…..
    My boyfriend is currently fostering a 12 year old. He was grumpy from the beginning and about a week after he got him he noticed that his face was swollen….We notified the shelter and brought him to the vets….The poor guy had to get 11 teeth pulled….They knew that he was grumpy but no one ever checked his teeth….he would have suffered till the end in that shelter and they would have never noticed…..there is just TOO MANY….
    People MUST stop breeding. People MUST stop shopping and ADOPT.
    Until then…I agree Euthanasia is the only humane thing to do…… People who are just anti euthanasis don’t live in the real world and their efforts and money can be better spent in helping the overpopulation cause….

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  82. Marian /Hofmann says:

    Stop Breeding. Until they all have homes….STOP BREEDING!

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  83. Graciela Hernandez says:

    I am pro life however if an animal has no quality of life why make them suffer unnecessarily. .

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  84. Kim says:

    I am so tired of people putting out requests to breed their whatever to a another Heinz 57 to get puppies that never will have homes. Thank Minnett for the advice.

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  85. Marsha Reiner says:

    I believe 100% in what you are saying. I had the same respect for 3 of our previous dogs and will do the same for our current ones. It’s a true act of love and respect.

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  86. Kathy T says:

    I stayed with Jojo my Yorkie I got when my Mother passed. I was blessed with him for 7 years, year half longer than my mom had him. He was the typical strong willed Yorkie. He was allergic too EVERYTHING. The breeder she bought him from (was distant family) charged big bucks said he was fine, his mom weighted 3lbs dad 2lbs. Jojo weighted 8-9lbs. Anything the Yorkie could have wrong he had walked hunched over, teeth, skin, bad disposition. Run away if gate was open. Pee & poop in house. You name it. When it came time to put him down at 12 he fought so hard ro stay alive, I’m crying as I text this. He was my last connection to my mom & danget. That little turd worked his way into my heart & Doc Brian was crying harder than me. He said he had never seen a little dog fight as hard as Jojo did, he hurt but he didn’t want to give it up & leave me. Brought him home hes buried in back yard a with a cross with his name.

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  87. Nancy A. Butler says:

    Being a senior citizen (I am 80), I like the idea of senior dogs for senior program. The dog I have now is a rescue I’ve had for 6 months (she is 8 years old). My vet found that she has, instead of a UTI which the rescue group had her treated for, a tumor in her bladder. She will have to be put to sleep eventually when it becomes too large and blocks her ability to pee (she is on medication to slow its growth, but there is nothing that can be done to remove it. It took me a lot of searching before I found her due to my age and the fact that my beautiful terrier I had for 9 years (also a rescue) I had to give up when I was hospitalized or in a rehab facility from New Years Day to March 25th, 2017, due to colostomy surgery. My neighbor agreed to take him for me, so he has a good home and I still get to visit with him. This was held against me: I had “given away” a dog and therefore did not deserve to have another. I live alone and need the canine companionship. I have had pets for many years and have always given them love, attention, and made sure they had the health care they needed. I dread when my current pet is put to sleep and I have to search for another companion and face those rescue groups that will refuse to allow me to adopt one of their dogs and feel I am unworthy to have a canine companion.

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  88. Rosemary says:

    I just recently put to rest my beloved corgi Toby. My best friend and love who was 12 years old. He developed acute renal failure and we could not go anything to save him. He took a seizure and I knew there was no going back to normal health. I had him put to rest and I felt my heart went with him. I know he will be waiting for me.

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  89. Tonya says:

    Euthanasia is often a kindness. Personally, I have never understood how people can walk off and leave their animals at a shelter, especially the senior animals. That animal has given you a lifetime of love and evotion, and that is the best way you can treat it? If you don’t want to care for your pet in its senior years, do the humane thing and euthanize it, and be there at the vet’s office while it goes peacefully to sleep. Don’t dump it at a shelter where it is likely to meet the same fate anyway, but in a much less peaceful atmosphere. Although I think the seniors for seniors program is a great idea, the idea that anyone could condemn their senior animal to the shelter fate is horrific to me. I’ve had dogs, cats, and other animals from the time I was a very young girl, have had to have my old or terminally ill friends euthanized, and, although it is hard, I feel it is the best and kindest thing I can do for my furry friends. After reading this article, I am only confirmed in this belief. Part of the joy of pet ownership is the responsibility to that animal to give it a peaceful, secure end of life, not dump it off in chaos, fear and stress. And, I agree with the statements made previously about rescues and shelters needing to better spend their limited money on pets that have a good chance at adoption rather than those who are unlikely to be adopted anyway. If the animal is likely to spend its life behind bars, end its suffering before it has to try to cope with the shelter environment on top of whatever it already has going on.

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  90. Diane Bodle says:

    I completely agree with Minette. Dogs deserve being with ele they trust and know care about them in their final moments. Yes it is very difficult and heart breaking but how would you like to be with strangers when your time comes?
    Some vets will even come to your home to help ease that difficult time.
    My 15 1/2 yr Golden hated going to the vet. He was kind enough to come to us!

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  91. AudraD says:

    Great article!! Very well written and very informative, but also sensitively put. You opened my eyes to the reality of no kill shelters and confirmed/affirmed some of my beliefs….and I thank you!! 🙂 I adopted my first dog from a “no-kill” shelter. They brought the dogs out front to me and didn’t let me see the back (I was so excited that I didn’t really think about this till later) When I met my dog she had all but lost the will to live. She would just walk slowly with glazed over eyes, I couldn’t even get her to trot. I found out later that the “shelter” was more like a giant backyard filled with dogs who pretty much fended for themselves. This helped to explain my sweet girl’s dog aggression issues and broken heart (both of which we fixed together :>) I decided that day that the idea of “no-kill” was flawed and that I would rather her have been euthanized than have to spend her life at a place like that.

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  92. Terry Thompson says:

    Our vet is super compassionate.
    My old cat was attacked on our back porch by a loose dog and
    damaged terribly. They tried some drugs to stabilize her but did not help.
    The office has a employee trained in grief counseling… And when an animal is in the building being euthanized a candle is lit in the waiting room accompanied by a sign explaing to please be respectful, and try to keep their pets quiet during that time. You can have the counselor (free) come in with you or not and spend as long as you wish if you are not taking your pet home.The back door is always open so you don’t have to go back out thru the waiting room when it is over if you want privacy. It isn’t that hard to love and be respectful to pets at that terrible time… They prove it constantly… My dogs and cat love going there also for checkups… The girls are very sweet and my puppies love them…

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  93. evelyn ringel says:

    In Oct of 2017, I had to put down my Rita-a puppy mill Boxer, a therapy dog and an good, good soul. In Feb, 2018, 4 months later, I had to put down my Mikey, my mutt, my high anxiety rescue, who had so many health issues in his short 8 years. I ‘ve stayed with every dog that I have to put down-my husband cannot. I’m crying now over these last 2 dogs. I torture myself that I let Mikey go too long with the anal sack cancer, chemo… My only consolation is to adopt more dogs-so many need homes-I now have 3 Greyhounds and am adopting more! I do so miss my Rita and Mikey. I would hope that when it is our time, we would go as peacefully as our dogs. I volunteer at hospice and it is not always the case.

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