Sunday, January 31, 2016

Economic Euthanasia.

Do people seriously think that their pets are not as complicated and needy as we humans are?

Surrendered to JVC for "not using the litter box." two years ago.
Saved by Elise (hugging him here).. and living a life only few of us can dream

Not to air all  my own dirty laundry, but I am a mess most of the time.

I seriously worry about stuff that I know I shouldn't.

I concoct silly scenarios that have not a shred of legitimacy behind them just because I am,,, well,,, insecure/anxious/worried/pessimistic??..(I could go on and on)..

I worry that my friend is in a dangerous relationship with self expression via ugly tattoos. Or, that the current population dynamics cannot be supported by our planet. That all the tainted water in Michigan is adversely impacting the plastics market. That the religious factions around the world might just be causing more harm than good? Lots of stuff like that.

Stuff I can't totally impact, and, yet I will waste countless hours of my life contemplating, scrutinizing, and theorizing.

Then I go to work to deal with problems much closer to home. Life and death problems. Some of them are even immediate death due to a human created problems. I see it quite often in pet care. We sell our pets short. We forget that they have needs, feelings (yes, I said it feelings.. don't tell me that your dog running to you wagging their tail and smothering you with kisses isn't based on a feeling?). They have innate complicated desires, compulsions, and needs that we circumvent and disregard because they don't fit neatly into our complicated stressed-out lives.

Kona and her new home replete with second chances.
She was surrendered due to stress induced poor fecal targeting.
I can say it until my last dying breath.. 
"your cat is telling you they need help not that they want to be surrendered."

In my day to day work life I see that cats suffer the worst.

Litter box issues are the single greatest reason cats are relinquished. They represent 51% of all cat behavior problems and 25 % of all cat AND dog behavior problems.*

We stress our cats out with our dysfunctional requirements and constraints. We buy litter that is too dusty, too stinky, and too foreign to their feet because it smells good to us and is easy to scoop. We then put it in dark boxes hidden away from the comforts of accessibility. Even if it is supposed to smell pleasant no one wants to actually look at it. We deny them their basic instinctual needs of chasing and capturing prey and allowing them to live a quiet solitary life when or if  desired. We are also more likely to assign an emotional blame versus seek help for a medical or psychological issue that we parents likely created.

Some cats get the very short end of a very unforgiving stick.

There are countless cases of economic euthanasia's in the feline side of veterinary medicine.

Perhaps it is in part due to population numbers? (Did you know that one cat and her offspring can produce up to 420,000 kittens in 7 years). Cats are abundantly over populated in almost every corner of the world. In every case it is easier and cheaper to replace a cat than to fix it. It is a cruel reality of the economic side of animal husbandry.

It is also the dark side of veterinary medicine no one seems to want to face, never mind address and attempt to resolve.

For me, personally, it is the side of owning a practice that brings me the most grief and has become my largest obstacle to overcome. I know where my ability to tolerate ending suffering resides, but, I am no longer playing the economic euthanasia roulette. In some cases I have provided alternative options to clients who I do not relate to. It is the subject of my Compassion Fatigue blog and the backbone of my veterinary practice's manifesto. We have concocted elaborate internal protocols and procedures to provide options to avoid this being a reality in our practice.

At Jarrettsville Vet there are always (always!!) options provided. Economic euthanasia is not on the list. I understand that some diseases are terminal, BUT, everything, except human indifference, is treatable. This one single topic will be the greatest fracture point when the public makes their decision to trust us. This single option will be the unraveling of this profession and the motivation for the greatest innovation in the veterinary profession.

Rescued with the help of the good friends of the JVC Good Samaritan Fund.
There are organizations who are trying to end this. Put options in front of those facing euthanasia due to restrictive economics.

Elise's caption "No mom! No more kisses!"
That is a lucky cat!

Kona gets used to her new digs.

I  am often asked to supply an explanation to "how we do what we do?".. (thankfully I am rarely asked WHY?).. here is my reply;

"Jarrettsville Vet has worked very hard to provide an answer to this and our current system of utilizing our own Good Samaritan Fund is permitting us to not have to scrutinize the worth of these cases, nor use an additional out of pocket expenses. It also provides a key component that I believe is vital to our staff; "everyone puts skin in the game." If a vet, or an other staff member, wants to champion a case they are free to do so with the full support of the hospital, funds from our supporters and an understanding that this case will be used to educate others. Everyone is expected to put their skills, time and expertise into a case that we all adopt together. This allows, fosters, and maintains a clear purpose and vision and reminds us all why we chose this profession. It also establishes a sense of ownership and vested interest.

Sadly, some of our most difficult cases require that we take ownership. Yesterday a client came in to euthanize her 4 yo cat for urination issues. Clearly this woman had created her own anxiety ridden disaster. This cat needed help and she refused to participate in its recovery process. In these cases pets are surrendered to a rescue we work with. Our clinic assumes the financial and medical care, the rescue provides us a way to shield the practice from becoming the county animal shelter."

Simon catches a nap.
I never hoped that we would find as many happy endings as we have..but,
we never gave up hoping and they haven't stopped coming.

If you would like to learn more about Jarrettsville Vet please visit us on our Facebook page or website.

If you have a pet question, or could share some pet knowledge to help others (all in the spirit of charity and kindness to helping others) please join us at It is free for all to use and dedicated to helping pets live longer healthier lives around the world.

* Ian Dunbar, PhD, BVetMed, MRCVS, Greater Baltimore Veterinary Conference Dec 2015

Related Blogs;

Excellent articles on the issue of economic euthanasia;

Economic Euthanasia: A Disease in Need of Prevention, by Barry Kipperman, DVM, DACVIM, HSVMA

Simon and Elise


  1. THANK YOU!!! Is what i'm sure a whole lot of pets would say to you if they could talk! You seem like a great and compassionate vet and if i lived in that area i would totally take my pets to you. Thanks for taking a stand for the animals that can't talk.

  2. I have constantly shut my eyes or gazed down at my puppy while ausculting. I really had a teacher in veterinary school that suggested it for the same reason you refer to: it evacuates one sense to permit the cerebrum to focus on another.

    1. thank you for sharing this.. i will carry those words close to my heart

  3. Hi.Thank you for sharing. I'm a volunteer in pet adoption near me for 4 years, and I want to be a vet. someday. keep up the good work.