I don't know about the rest of you, but I actually pause when someone asks me about my profession. Each and every time I'll wage a cerebral war with myself on the pros/cons of telling this complete stranger about what I do, because 75% of the time the next words will be, "So I have this dog...".

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Umm, try the hospital down the road....

Our hospital occasionally has the unfortunate responsibility to euthanize really sick or injured stray animals that the local Animal Control picks up. They'll allow us to treat the animals that may have a chance, but there just isn't enough money or space to care for the ones that need extensive hospitalization, surgery, etc. Heck, I'd treat all of them if we had the facilities and help to do so. Thankfully, this doesn't happen very often.

Our relationship with the Animal Control, however, doesn't just end there as much as I would like it to. We also get the privilege to examine dogs and cats that have been quarantined by the Animal Control for 10 days after biting someone. If the Rabies vaccination history is questionable, we always prefer to quarantine that animal since the alternative is to euthanize it and send samples of its brain for testing. Prophylactic treatment for rabies is not a wonderful experience to have, so it's best to find out for sure whether it needs to be done.

On occasion though, the owner of the pet requests for us to euthanize it after the quarantine. Sure it's sad, and I hate doing it, but usually it's a very aggressive dog or cat and the bite wasn't the first. I've seen MANY aggressive dogs, and as terrible as it sounds, sometimes putting them down IS the best thing. Sadly, not every pet can be rehabilitated.

Such was the case with the person that called us the other day. His 150 pound intact male Rottweiler was finishing up his 10 days of quarantine, and needed to be examined by a vet. And since the owner didn't know of any (unvaccinated, un-neutered - are you surprised?), Animal Control recommended yours truly. He's apparently very territorially aggressive to people and other dogs, and he's bitten several of the owner's friends that have come over to visit. As a result, the owner requested to have the dog examined as required, and then immediately euthanized. The problem is, he wanted us to do a house call because, and I quote, "He gets upset and stressed at the vet hospital."

Seriously? At the scene of his crimes? Did you have a specific room in mind? Like on his dog bed surrounded by all of his toys and dog bones? Honestly, I'd rather have tea and crumpets with Hannibal Lecter. I'm not endangering myself or my staff to do an exam and then euthanize a 150# intact male T-Rex in HIS territory. Maybe with a dart gun and enough room to run when I miss, but otherwise, no thanks.

I feel bad having to euthanize animals for behavioral reasons as it is, I keep thinking that maybe there's something or someone that can help this poor misguided animal. But really, I don't want to feel bad AND have 20 stitches.


  1. We had someone showup with an old, painful rottie that was aggressive and wanted us to euthanize it in the car or else come help them get it out the car? Oh and by the way it bit someone a few dasy ago. Ok, so now we cant euthanize without rabies testing and we won't go to the car. THey just left.

  2. Wow, it's amazing how clueless some people can be. I've euthanized dogs in the back of their car before when they really didn't want to bring the dog in (very rare, and usually great clients), but an aggressive rottie? no way.

  3. I just found your blog and I love it! I'm a third year vet student in the middle of studying for ruminant health, and your blog is an awesome source of laughs out loud and a great study break... I've been sharing the good stories with some study friends around me :)

  4. Some owners are unable to be rehabbed, too. More's the pity, that.