Every pet owner dreads they day they'll have to say goodbye to their furbaby. One vet explained what you should NOT do on that day.
Every pet owner dreads the moment when they have to say goodbye to their beloved friend, but the long and short of it is that you will outlive your pet, sadly. It's a heartbreaking moment that you can never really prepare for, try as you might. Twitter user Jessi Dietrich explored the other side of the equation and asked her vet what the hardest part of his job was, and the vet's answer was truly gutting. Dietrich's simple revelation went viral, with over 140,000 likes and nearly 42,000 retweets.
The Twitter user told Bored Panda that she has a cat of her own, who was taken to the vet a couple of years ago for a near-fatal UTI blockage. “I just have one pet of my own. His name is Rick, he’s a black and white cat and is about 2 and a half years old,” she said. “I took him to the vet because about a year and a half ago he nearly died from a UTI blockage. My vet had to perform an emergency surgery which one of the risks of which was an increased risk for infection for the rest of his life if the surgery was successful. The surgery went wonderfully but since then he gets at least one or two infections a month (the vet said he is not in pain from them). So we’re regulars at our current vet to treat these chronic infections in short.” On one of these visits, Dietrich learned something from her vet: your pets will always look for you when they're being put down.
Dietrich added that her vet's confession had made her realize that she had to put her own feelings aside when it was time for her own goodboi to leave, and instead be there for him like he'd been there for her for his entire life. "While some pets may only be in our lives for a short period of time, we often are in their lives for a large percentage of theirs. They are with us during our highs and lows, always excited to see us when we’ve gotten home. Please consider this when the time comes for you to put an animal down,” she said, adding that her intention with sharing her vet's advice was to raise awareness, not to guilt people or make them feel bad for not being able to be there for their pets.
Shortly after Dietrich's tweet took the internet by storm, a New Zealand veterinary hospital shared a testimonial from a vet that encouraged pet owners to be in the room while their fur babies were put down. “They search every face in the room for their loved person. They don’t understand why you left them when they are sick, scared, old or dying from cancer and they need your comfort,” the post reads. "Do not make them transition from life to death in a room of strangers in a place they don't like.
Most of the overwhelmingly positive responses from vets as well as pet owners reinforced the importance of being with your pet in their last moments. "We put our Bear to sleep in her back yard surrounded by the ones she loved. It was incredibly sad but very peaceful. And she did look around to make sure we were all there to say goodbye," said one commenter. One vet wrote, "This is absolutely true. I've had to put thousands of people's dogs and cats down. It is so selfish to leave them alone and believe me, they are terrified. PLEASE stay with them. It is the last kindness they will ever know." Another pet owner commented, "Like so many of my 6 decade age plus, I've made the decision of ending a companion's suffering several times. Few things can force you to confront both mortality and responsibility as this. Our pets, as a final lesson, reminds us that we're never too old or macho or experienced to cry."
However, not everyone was quite as agreeable. "I absolutely hate this post. Yes, we don’t like pets to die without their owners present," one vet wrote. "But for me it is more that I worry that the owner will forever obsess and feel guilt for have not having been there. Knowing that the pet was not afraid or in pain during the procedure brings a certain level of comfort to the owner who stays for the euthanasia." The vet went on to explain, "But for some people, attending is not possible. Sometimes it is the inability for owners to get childcare or sometimes owners just can’t emotionally do it. It is our job as veterinarians to provide a loving, stress-free, calming transition for the pet, whether the owner is there or not. It is our job to find compromises for the owner, possibly staying for the sedation phase but not for the final injection or offering end of the day, in the car, or outdoor euthanasia to assure privacy. It is our obligation to perform the procedure immediately, so that the pet doesn’t sit in a cage for hours waiting for their owner to come get them. And it is our job, based on our competency, to assure the owner that it is fine, that it will go fine, and that we will tell the pet how much they are loved as the last breaths are taken. And if the owner is not present, a call or text to let them know that it is done and that it went well is often warranted.
In the ideal world, when the time has come to say goodbye, pet and owner will be together — for the sake of each other. But there is no shame in not being there if you trust your veterinarian to advocate not only for your beloved pet, but also for you. That this was written and shared by veterinarians shows a general lack of empathy for those who have not or could not be present at the end. The reality of one’s pet searching for the owner, feeling abandoned, or being scared is no different at the end or when being dropped off for a medical procedure. Is this really the image we want our clients to embrace? Is this kind? Is this true? Is this necessary?"