As most pet owners know, end of life decisions are heartbreaking. When a beloved family member has been diagnosed as medically hopeless by a veterinarian or even when suffering is evident, it is not uncommon to hold onto hope. Maybe tomorrow will be better, maybe she could feel well enough to go for one last walk or play ball one more time.
In some cases, that hope is not realistic and as painful as it is, we must face the truth and make the decision to let the pet go. In other cases, very rare ones in my experience, we do get that chance for one more moment in the sun together. We might spend it at the pet’s favorite hang-out spot in the yard or at a park. We might share a cupcake or some other special treat because hey, smoke ’em if ya got ’em.
But inevitably, we all face that final goodbye, where we hold our friend in our arms or stroke their fur and talk to them about good things while the vet gives the injection. It’s the final kindness we can bestow upon our faithful companion. One last act of love before we part ways in this life with all the hope of seeing each other again someday.
That is euthanasia.
This is killing:
From: “Rescue, MAS” <MAS.Rescue@memphistn.gov>
Date: November 3, 2016 at 9:26:33 AM CDT
Subject: Critical List 110316
Good morning everyone-
WE ARE FULL!!!
This morning I have had an amazing dog hanging out in my office, which technically is against the rules. You see, she has been here for an entire month. She is a generic, non descript, heartworm positive, quirky dog and despite me buying her extra time repeatedly, it isn’t fair to her to house her in a kennel any longer, nor is it fair to the other dogs whose spot she takes in the building. Tomorrow morning, I am putting her on the euthanasia list. I will take her outside for a final romp, give her some delicious treats and I will hold her when it is time. It is not something I want to do, she is my wiggly girl, we talk every day while I do rounds and she dances at me. I cannot take her home, my pack already includes too many quirky dogs. I have sent video of her in my lap to various people. She has been pinned to the top of a highly active rescue page. She has been on the critical list for far too long. I have done absolutely everything I can do to avoid this outcome for her. She is extremely quirky with other dogs, which I know played a large factor in why she hasn’t been pulled by a rescue. I hate it but I also understand it. So while it will break my heart, as well as the hearts of others she has charmed, I will move forward tomorrow with it, unless someone pulls her. She is hanging out, enjoying kongs of kibble and other treats, getting loved on by everyone who comes by my office and just enjoying her time in here.
Whitney Van Zandt, Shelter Supervisor
The above is a portion of a guilt-trip email sent to rescuers this week by Memphis Animal Services – a place that does almost no offsite adoptions, keeps “stray” dogs behind locked doors, leaves cages empty, and opens to the public begrudgingly and relatively rarely. A facility serving a community the size of Memphis should be holding several offsite adoption events daily, getting pets featured on TV and radio daily, unlocking all the doors in the facility so the public can see and fall in love with all the animals, using every available cage for lifesaving, and staying open for adoptions 7 days a week, including evenings. They don’t do the bare minimum to get pets adopted at MAS, never mind “absolutely everything” they can do.
Despite their many failings though, they don’t have to kill animals. That’s a choice they make. And if it’s the best they can offer, they should get out of the animal sheltering business because it’s unacceptable.
And as far as taking the dog out for a last romp, feeding her treats and holding her while she is killed – no. Fuck no. You don’t get to say that. You don’t get to lay the burden of that loaded image on weary rescuers who are kept in constant crisis mode via your “only you can stop us from killing by doing our jobs for us” emails. We who are committed to lifesaving and to love for animals, we who believe where there’s life there’s hope, we who understand what a precious gift a healthy, happy pet represents – we own that. We own all that. You have no right.