Your pet had been an inseparable part of you and your family. When it's time to put him/her down, please consider this.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on September 25, 2019. It has since been updated.
One might live with their pets for a very long time but that does not guarantee that they know everything about them. There are feelings so complex, you might feel overwhelmed when you get to experience them. And when the time comes to put them down, it's a moment of inexplicable agony for both of you. You might not want to see them leave you, but is that what they want?
Twitter user Jessi Dietrich wanted to push the boundary and explore the other side, so she asked her vet what the hardest part of his job was. Dietrich revealed his answer on Twitter and it is heart-breaking. Her post has since gone viral with over 140,000 likes and nearly 42,000 retweets.
A report in Bored Panda revealed Dietrich's own experience with her cat when it was sick. She said, "I just have one pet of my own. His name is Rick, he's a black and white cat and is about 2 and a half years old. I took him to the vet because about a year and a half ago he nearly died from a UTI blockage."
"My vet had to perform an emergency surgery which one of the risks of which was an increased risk for infection for the rest of his life if the surgery was successful. The surgery went wonderfully but since then he gets at least one or two infections a month (the vet said he is not in pain from them). So we're regulars at our current vet to treat these chronic infections in short," she added.
On one of these visits, Dietrich learned something from her vet: your pets will always look for you when they're being put down. She thus understood that when it's time for her to say goodbye to her fur-baby, she needs to keep her feelings aside and be by his side as he leaves them. "While some pets may only be in our lives for a short period of time, we often are in their lives for a large percentage of theirs. They are with us during our highs and lows, always excited to see us when we’ve gotten home. Please consider this when the time comes for you to put an animal down," she insisted, clarifying that her only motive to share her vet's advice is to raise awareness and not make pet-owners feel guilty for not being able to be there for their pets.
Shortly after Dietrich's tweet took the internet by storm, a New Zealand veterinary hospital shared a testimonial from a vet that encouraged pet owners to be in the room while their fur babies were put down. "They search every face in the room for their loved person. They don't understand why you left them when they are sick, scared, old or dying from cancer and they need your comfort," the post reads. "Do not make them transition from life to death in a room of strangers in a place they don't like."
Later, other vets also weighed in. "This is absolutely true. I've had to put thousands of people's dogs and cats down. It is so selfish to leave them alone and believe me, they are terrified. PLEASE stay with them. It is the last kindness they will ever know," one vet wrote.
But not everyone agreed to this. "I absolutely hate this post. Yes, we don't like pets to die without their owners present," one vet wrote. "But for me it is more that I worry that the owner will forever obsess and feel guilt for have not having been there. Knowing that the pet was not afraid or in pain during the procedure brings a certain level of comfort to the owner who stays for the euthanasia."
The vet went on to explain, "But for some people, attending is not possible. Sometimes it is the inability for owners to get childcare or sometimes owners just can’t emotionally do it. It is our job as veterinarians to provide a loving, stress-free, calming transition for the pet, whether the owner is there or not. It is our job to find compromises for the owner, possibly staying for the sedation phase but not for the final injection or offering end of the day, in the car, or outdoor euthanasia to assure privacy. It is our obligation to perform the procedure immediately so that the pet doesn’t sit in a cage for hours waiting for their owner to come get them. And it is our job, based on our competency, to assure the owner that it is fine, that it will go fine, and that we will tell the pet how much they are loved as the last breaths are taken. And if the owner is not present, a call or text to let them know that it is done and that it went well is often warranted.
In the ideal world, when the time has come to say goodbye, pet and owner will be together — for the sake of each other. But there is no shame in not being there if you trust your veterinarian to advocate not only for your beloved pet, but also for you. That this was written and shared by veterinarians shows a general lack of empathy for those who have not or could not be present at the end. The reality of one’s pet searching for the owner, feeling abandoned, or being scared is no different at the end or when being dropped off for a medical procedure. Is this really the image we want our clients to embrace? Is this kind? Is this true? Is this necessary?"
What do you think?