Vets Forced To Euthanise Healthy Animals

By Ruth aka Kattaddorra

The worst part of my job when working at vet practices in the 1960s to 1990s was holding healthy animals to be euthanized, simply because their owner had decided that fate for them.

Animal life is precious
Poster by Ruth aka Kattaddorra.
Two useful tags. Click either to see the articles:- Toxic to cats | Dangers to cats

We always asked the reason if someone brought in a cat or dog and asked for them to be ‘put to sleep’ and the usual ones kept on coming up: new baby, allergies, moving house, etc. but some outrightly said they just didn’t want their pet any more.

We then asked if instead of taking the animal’s life we could have permission to try to rehome them. Some people agreed, they just wanted rid and didn’t care what happened to the cat or dog. But some people refused! Can you imagine the mentality of a person like that!

Often they stood and watched their pet die, to make sure we did the job. We had a way around those who didn’t stay to watch, the money they paid went into an animal charity box and the cat or dog was spirited away, the duty vet turning a blind eye…..

I once brought home on the bus a huge Alsatian because I knew the very man who would love him, I was working about 10 miles from home then so it would have been a long walk had the driver refused to let me on the bus. But he just took one look and said ‘Hmm, no charge for your pony seeing as this bus is fairly quiet. He was obviously a dog lover. The dog was named Rob and had a very happy long life with his new owner.

Just to think he would have been dead if his first owner had stayed to watch, was an awful thing. There was a little poodle X puppy one day and I knew the very lady who would have loved her, but no, her owner stood and watched her die, not a tear shed by her, only by me.

Another sad tale was the day a man brought in his dog saying his wife had died, so why should the dog live and yes he stood and watched the dog die!

A funny story to lighten this depressing article a bit, a woman I knew had her dog euthanised for good reason but every time I saw her after that she ignored me. When I asked why, she said

‘Every time I see you, you remind me of our Butch’

Oh dear well I did have long hair those days lol Another funny story from the second practise I worked at, the ‘powers that be’ decided that the town had to be freed of the wild pigeons, well I love pigeons, they are such gentle birds and the very thought of killing them upset me very much. In that job I worked mostly alone as it was a small mixed practise with only two vets who after the small animal clinics and days operations were over, went on their farm rounds.

I was receptionist/nurse/accountant/cleaner/mortuary attendant, the lot. So the first batch of pigeons were brought in, in a big wicker basket and were left with me, the basket would be collected later for a refill.

As soon as the coast was clear I opened the back door of the surgery and then the basket lid and away the flock of pigeons soared into the blue beyond.

One day one pigeon left an egg behind in the basket, I carefully wrapped it in cotton wool and kept it warm all day and took it home for our late mother to nurture. She loved doing things like that!

So, I opened the door and announced ‘Mam, I’ve brought a little job for you to do’ then promptly fell over the step and smashed the egg! I never lived that down lol.

This pigeon ‘cull’ went on for months, until one day I had a phone call to say they wouldn’t be bringing any more pigeons in because their plan obviously wasn’t working as they were getting no less. ‘I wonder why?’ I innocently replied.

Now if we are out and about that town and see any pigeons, Babz will say to me ‘Oh look Ruth, there are some of your descendants’ lol.

But back to serious, I was thinking about all this the other day and did a bit of research on-line to see if it was the same rules now and yes it is!

A pet is classed as a possession and the owner has the right to choose if he lives or dies! Our Animal Welfare Act doesn’t stop it because a vet killing an animal is doing it humanely. So this means a healthy animal has no right to live if the owner decides he must die!

One comment I saw when researching this was:

‘Well healthy animals are killed in Rescue Shelters every day, so what difference?’

And sadly this is TRUE!

Ruth aka Kattaddorra

28 thoughts on “Vets Forced To Euthanise Healthy Animals”

  1. A sad and educative article, especially to me living in a different country with different attitudes towards pets and animals.In India, stray street dogs were once routinely euthanized but the practice stopped over a decade ago. Today , stray dogs are caught and sterilized by animal welfare societies.As for cats, they are free to do as they please and have never ever been either euthanized or considered a menace.Sadly, the present trend among pet owners abandoning their pets on the streets to a miserable life or death.I wonder the reasons for people purchasing pets and later abandoning them ? Its sad but the human attitude towards animals is universal all over the World.

    • never ever been either euthanized or considered a menace

      This is a good point. Some countries and districts consider the community cat a nuisance and want them killed. Other places accept them. Israel is one such place. India is another you say. It is obvious to me what is the better attitude.

    • Thanks Caroline, is it any consolation to you that it’s said that only the most intelligent people suffer from migraine? No, it isn’t to me either lol

  2. Great article: really funny and very sad. The pigeon story is a classic. You were quite a rebel. Still are it seems.

    It is sad though. “Pets” are possessions to do as we please with. We can’t cause them pain because that would be a crime (if caught which is highly unlikely) but we can kill them if we ask the vet. Strange isn’t.

    The word “pet” still has the wrong connotation that is why I nearly always stick to “companion animal”.

    • companion animal. like that very much. i tend to say, “We cannot own a cat or any other animal. They, like us, our species, tend to have no status other than “I exist, therefore, I am.” “I am as important as you are, since you think akin to my thinking.

    • Yes once a rebel always a rebel and I still do get myself into some sticky situations lol I should know better at my age now!
      I think companion animal is a good term to use, pet sounds a bit condescending doesn’t it, yet the vets I worked for always used it ‘And what is wrong with your pet today?’
      I think any young person going into work with animals gets a shock at the reality, I know I did! I remember at my interview being told ‘It’s not all cuddling the animals you know’ even my late dad said ‘You’d be better off in an office job bonny lass’ But I wouldn’t listen lol
      Anyway someone has to do the job and it wasn’t all bad although I hadn’t been working long at the first vets and they had boarding cattery and kennels too. We had to cook the dog’s meat in the kennel block kitchen and drain the fatty water down the large drain outside, one day someone left the cover off the drain and I fell down it lol You can imagine the pong as I climbed back out and squelched across to the main building, the other staff were helpless with laughing ….

  3. A few times I actually thought about leaving that sort of work, once I even went for an interview and actually got the job but something stopped me, my conscience I suppose wouldn’t let me abandon the animals who might need me.
    But it was a very emotional and draining career, poorly paid too, hard work, no pension funds and not really the right work for a sensitive person.
    But it did feel good doing sort of ‘undercover’ stuff, like being able to tip off the local hunt sabateurs when the next hunting days were lol
    Maybe I should have called this article ‘The Confessions of a Vet’s assistant’ lol

    • Ruth, that is what stopped me, as a true catlover. ailurophile. When I adopted Michael from our local shelter (which has just opened up a huge, animal-friendly facility, btw), I was unnerved as to what to do. My spotted-bellied sphinx is called ‘Michael’ in honor of the worker who tried to “rescue” steal him in the night. I have never met this worker, but I do know that he was attached to this cat-kitten one-yr-old).

      I then, after my housemate adopted Michael, applied for a job with them. I was told right off the bat that I couldn’t do it. too sensitive, just like Michael who tried stealing “Fester {their name], the Chedday Molester[my daughter’s name for him].

      • Marc, I hope that you sleep well, our friend. You deserve that, and alot more. I am certain that Red’s and your heartfelt sense of belonging to this planet that we kneel on will go far beyond what you did for catkind this past weekend. Actually, what you have done is in a timeless fashion, and will go on forever…
        Thank you, Marc.

        • Thanks Caroline – 🙂 – I’ll do it again next year.

          Ruth thanks for sharing. That’s awfully sad that people can actually do that. The trick might be to give the animal and injection that will put it to sleep without killing it and make sure there’s alot going on so the ‘owner’ buzzes off pronto.

          Well done for freeing the birds. I would have done the same.

          There must have been some awful moments during your career – I am not sure I would have made it through something like what you described with the owner watching. I suppose if the vet refuses they will go to another one? I hate those people if they can literally watch to ‘check’ and make sure. That is beyond revolting. Far, far beyond.

          • I wish we could have saved them all Marc but I wasn’t the boss, I only worked there and the vets wouldn’t ever have daren’t con someone by a false lethal injection. Some took the body away with them anyway …………
            Yes I hated those people too and I think they had no conscience.
            I’m glad you agree about the pigeons lol such beautiful birds they are and I hate it that they are blamed for making a mess in towns when once again it’s the disgusting people throwing the remains of their fast food down and who can blame hungry birds for swooping down to eat it.

            • I know it sounds simplistic but it would seem that 9 out of 10 times it’s humans who are disgusting. I’ve found it easier to assume the humans to be the guilty party and then take it from there.

              Ironically – when it comes to nature – the rule of humans being ‘guilty until proven innocent’ – seems like the right way to go. We have lost our right to innocence so long ago it’s a myth of the past. An idealised view of prehistoric humans perhaps being innocent in the way they lived. Just a dream really.

  4. Oh Ruth I laughed and I cried over your latest article,it could have been totally depressing but you lightened it up with your naughty goings on back then lol
    It’s true what Barbara says,animals go uncounted and unmourned while even evil humans who don’t deserve to live have every right,how can that be so.
    I worked at a vets for a short spell years ago but I couldn’t hack it at all,it’s not the feel good job it’s made out to be is it.

    • it’s not the feel good job it’s made out to be is it.

      I think this is an interesting statement. Working at a vet’s does give the impression that it is a nice job, doing good and helping animals etc. but it appears it is not what we think it is like.

  5. So sad, all those lives lost, taken, unvalued, unmourned, without number and yet as I’ve said many times before every single human being has to be accounted for. Even the lowest, cruelest most twisted and evil person’s life is valued more than an innocent animal. What a world.


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