For this blog entry, I’d like to pose two questions, ones that I’ve been asked a lot about recently. When is it okay to euthanize a pet? And, what reasons are legitimate in ending a pet’s life? As someone who has had to put a few pets to sleep over the years, I can tell you that there are no clear, easy answers to these questions. And that’s the way it should be. After all, we are talking about our dear pets who have wormed their ways into our hearts and become parts of our families. It should never be easy to lose an animal whom we love and cherish and who has given us so much unconditionally over the years. But neither should it be considered unreasonable or out of the realm of possibilities. We are still the ones in charge, we still make the decisions that run a household, raise children, hold down a job and plan for the future. We walk in our shoes, not our neighbors, co-workers or our friends. We know what goes on in our homes, what our struggles are and what we need to change in order to improve our daily lives. And sometimes, that means changing how we approach the care of a pet.
I have mentioned in other blogs that animals don’t think about death the same way we do. For them, it’s just a passing from one life to another. Of course, our pets don’t want to leave us for a variety of reasons, but they’re generally not afraid of dying because they know there’s more to come. Unfortunately,we humans have put a lot of our own fears of death and dying onto our animals. In some instances, we’ve made it clear that anything and all should be used and/or tried in order to keep our pets alive. We’ve created an atmosphere of expectations of care that is almost impossible for some pet owners to live up to. Because of these expectations, there is much confusion as to when enough is enough and when it’s okay to stop.
My thoughts on this are simple. When we took a pet into our home to love and cherish and take care of, we did not sign a contract that said we had to provide medical care at all costs. We are not obligated to break the bank, to use up our retirement savings or to put our pet’s medical care ahead of our own or our children’s. We can not be expected to tolerate our pets peeing around the house for years on end even though it’s not their fault. And we can not have an animal around our children or other members of our families who is unpredictable or intolerant even though we’ve taken him to classes and behaviorists and tried all kind of exercises to stop his behavior. It’s just too dangerous.
Friends want to be helpful when you explain your pet woes to them. “Why don’t you find another home for your pet if you can’t take care of them anymore?” That’s easier said than done. Full disclosure is the operative word when you’re considering re-homing your pet. It’s not fair to advertise your pet as being loving, cuddly, kind and obedient if you don’t mention that he’s in chronic kidney failure and is on a special diet who’s cost is prohibitive for you. It would be unforgivable to adopt your dog to a nice family and not tell them that “Fluffy” has snapped at and almost bitten your children. And it would be cruel to give your cat to an older woman as a companion and not disclose to her that “Kitty” pees outside of his litter box several times each day. We wouldn’t like it if someone did that to us….it’s not fair and it’s not right.
We love our pets and sometimes we love them to distraction and don’t see the real picture that’s right in front of us. If you live with a pet that has one or many problems on a day to day basis…problems that require you to provide care, medicine, special diet, shots, carpet cleaners; etc., it’s your choice as to whether or not you want and can provide the care that is needed; emotionally, physically, mentally and financially. You live with this pet, you know what it takes and you have the right to say enough is enough and it’s time to stop.
Blessings to you and your furry friends.