Letter Re: Euthanizing Pets Who Can’t Bug Out

Hugh,

I have searched the internet for a humane manner in which to euthanize a pet who can’t bug out. Is there anything other than a bullet to take care of this? – T.B.

HJL Comments: This is a tough situation and should be a call for people to evaluate their “need” for pets before they take on that responsibility. A pet is usually entirely dependent on it’s owner for survival and that is not a responsibility that should be taken lightly. I highly suspect that if such a situation were to occur, most pet owners would simply turn their pets out expecting them to make their own way. This, of course, would result in packs of feral animals who make life challenging for everyone else while they suffer and compete for resources. However, your options for euthanizing them are somewhat limited. Poisons are dangerous and often carry inhumane side effects. If you have access to veterinary care , the most humane method is typically the two injection method. Baring access to medicines, a bullet is usually the most expedient and painless method. Living on a farm, I have used whatever method was at hand when the euthanizing of an animal was needed. Shovels are particularly effective on smaller animals, but somewhat gruesome and require a significant application of deliberate force. (No, I don’t kill pets with shovels. I dispatched a skunk whose back was broken.) I would not recommend bludgeoning as it also requires significant force and is generally not humane. A word of caution: I recently had to euthanize an old friend who had been with us for nearly 13 years. After the family said goodbye, we took a short trip to an isolated spot where I said goodbye. Afterwords, I held her and cried for quite some time. Dispatching a pet is one of the emotionally hardest things I have done. Compounding the issue of using a firearm is the fact that even after the pet is gone, the end is so sudden that the body continues to function for several seconds. Those few seconds where the heart continued to beat seemed like forever to me. It can be very traumatic.

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