Two Letters Re: Advice on Disaster Pet Euthanasia

Hi Jim,

A couple of things worth considering for painless pet euthanasia.  This is never a pleasant subject, but:

1. Carbon monoxide poisoning.  People die of this painlessly all the time.   Prepare a setup now to connect to your vehicle exhaust (or any other gas engine exhaust) to an enclosure sized to hold your pet.

2. A person can be made unconscious simply by pressing two fingers against the juggler veins in the neck without any feeling of strangling or otherwise. It’s like going to sleep (the brain is deprived of oxygen and you black out).  A prolonged application of this will cause brain damage, of course, and eventually death.  I don’t know the specifics, but one might be able to find out by a medical person or veterinarian about application to a pet.

Sincerely, – Paul B.

Responding to J.M.’s letter, Advice on Disaster Pet Euthanasia, I would like to say that even living on a hobby farm and dispatching chickens, turkeys, and sheep, if it came to putting one of my dogs down before a bugout it would still be difficult. Most good dog owners realize their dogs are not “just” animals, there is some degree of person-hood there that requires consideration and compassion. They’re not human beings, but they’re also not just inert, instinct-driven things either.

Trust me that euthanasia is only stressful up to the point where you actually do the deed. After that point it is a relief, and you know you did what had to be done. You move on to the next thing on the list and the grieving can wait until things settle down a bit, and it’s not an emergency any longer.

Speaking for myself, I find it enormously comforting to realize that God probably has a purpose for them beyond this life. Not sure why that’s so comforting, I guess it’s just realizing that God has a plan and He is good beyond my wildest imagination (and I can imagine a lot!).

Ponder the implications of these tantalizing Bible verses: Psalm 36:6, Psalm 50:10-11, Psalm 145:9, Proverbs 12:10, Ecclesiastes 3:21, Romans 8:21, Revelation 4 (mistranslated in most English versions as “living creature” the word is actually “animal” – the animal kingdom is represented before the very Throne of God!), and the inclusiveness of Revelation 5:13 – 14. I don’t believe that the “Lamb who was slain” will forget the lambs who were by their very being a picture of his character. I just don’t believe they will be left behind in the glory to come. And that’s an encouraging thought.

That said, for me it’s a matter of making a rational decision (usually old age or illness, so far) based on criteria that my wife and I decided on long in advance of the actual need. Make a list! And when the circumstances fit that list then decide! Follow through on that decision by doing what must now be done, suck it up, do not dwell on it or stew on it or stall – just set aside your emotions for a few minutes and focus on doing it right for your animal friend.

One thing that has been a big help for us in the past is to give our dog a dose of Acepromazine, an inexpensive, commonly-prescribed veterinary drug that we have on hand for sedating our animals during trips (and there was that one hyper dog who freaked out in thunderstorms…). If you crush the tablet (and give an overdose) then mix it with a little peanut butter you won’t have any problem getting your dog to take it, and when crushed it will take effect more quickly and more profoundly.

Being sedated, your dog will not pick up your agitation/stress/fear in the crisis situation and they’ll be easier to handle, you might even need to carry them or drag them on a rug or tarp if the sedative hits before you’re ready (might only be a minute or two). I wouldn’t try to smother a dog, it takes too long, is very hands-on, and even sedated the dog may reflexively struggle. Bleeding an animal out once deeply sedated is fairly quick (with presumably little perceived pain) with a deep cut to the neck jugular vein behind the jaw (shave off the hair, if you have time, to be able to see what you’re doing there).  

Using a firearm as James Rawles described is the quickest and most humane method, just bring enough gun – dog’s skulls can be very hard in the bigger breeds (I’d recommend being sure the bullet is entering perpendicular to their skull, or nearly so). Take your time and do it by the book. If your dog is sedated but still moving around you might need to tie them to something to safely hold their head still. (Once your dog is sedated you do not want to offer them anything else to eat or drink, so be sure you’ve got the sedative dose you want on the first try.) You do not want to botch your first shot. And make sure there’s no one downrange or anywhere a ricocheting shot might go!

If you have enough Acepromazine you may be able to give a massive overdose and they will just fall asleep and stop breathing on their own. Unless you have a stethoscope and are experienced with its use you can’t assume your dog has passed on, so once you think it’s dead you’ll need to take some additional step to guarantee that fact. They’re already dead, it’s just their dead body now, and you’re just making absolutely positive. Some paracord ought to do the trick… Our dogs depend on us, if we’re going to do it we need to get it right – they’re counting on a quick, humane death and we owe them that much.

Look, I know this is a hard, hard topic to discuss! People hate to talk about death, but we MUST! Working out the final details for your beloved companion dog will be a good conversation-starter for talking about our own deaths, and the deaths we may one day be forced into inflicting in self-defense. I’m sorry it’s so hard – ask God to help you through it with clarity and peace. Jesus, after all, knows all about death… and conquered it!

I fully expect to see my dogs around the Throne of God as well as redeemed humanity, angels, cherubs, seraphim, and however many other classes and species of sentient life God has chosen for the honor. It will be a big, noisy, slobbery reunion!

“He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed.” – Revelation 21:4 Amen!
Trust God. Be Prepared. We can do both! – ShepherdFarmerGeek in Spokane