When I tell people where I work, they usually have two reactions. The first is “What a great job! You get to work with animals all day” and then “I don’t know how you do it”. They tell me that they could never deal with people having to euthanize their pets. My response is always the same, “it is very sad but 99.9% of the time it is the right thing to do.”
When I first started at the clinic seven years ago, I remember wondering how I was going to deal with watching animals come in to be euthanized. I wondered how I would be able to deal with the sadness of the owners and seeing people so emotionally distraught. I felt that I would never be able to deal with these situations without breaking down myself. I would be lying if I said that I secretly tried not to be out front at the time the euthanasia was booked into the schedule, I wanted to leave that for one of the more senior girls and also save myself the discomfort of having to deal with it.
Seven years later, my outlook on euthanasia appointments has changed. I don’t see these appointments as something to be avoided. I realize that we are helping these people through one of the most difficult times they will experience. They are saying goodbye to a beloved family member who they realize is not enjoying the quality of life they are entitled to. They have come to this decision after much thought and discussion with family and veterinary staff. They know they are doing what is best for their pet. They love their dog or cat enough to let them go so they will not suffer any longer.
When people come into our clinic for such an appointment, we have gotten things ready well in advance, and everyone in the clinic is aware. These appointments take priority. We want to make this as easy for families as we can. We understand the pain and anguish they have endured to make this difficult decision. We are not afraid to hug or comfort these families. I speak from my heart and tell them that they are making the right decision because they love their pets enough to let them go and end their suffering. I want them to understand we are not judging them; we are there to support them and that we know how hard this decision has been to make. We have had to make that decision. We know how much they love their pets and what avoid their passing will leave, but we also want them to know that if their pets could, they would say “thank you for loving me enough to end my suffering.” Their pets would want them to know how much they love them and how sad they are but they are simply too tired and too painful to continue. They will always be in their hearts, and they thank them for a life well lived and for all the love they received.
I have watched the technicians and veterinarians when they are inserting the catheter to administer the medication. They are stroking, kissing and feeding treats as they are getting them ready to say goodbye to their families. Often they are crying. They have come to know these pets over the course of their lifetime and felt a connection to them and the families that love them. It is heartbreaking for them too. There are hugs exchanged between staff in the back as we comfort each other at this difficult time. Your pet was exceptional not only to you but those who have come to know them. When owners feel overwhelmed, and they cannot stay with their pet while they are euthanized, technicians will sit on the floor with those pets, hugging, kissing and consoling them as they pass. No animal passes alone or without love and comfort at Briarwood. Tears are often shed as each pet is lovingly tended to. Their nails are trimmed, and their fur is combed…no pet shall go into the afterlife without looking their best. Every animal is treated with respect and dignity. Briarwood staff always make sure each animal is given a send-off fitting of a beloved pet.
Is this the worst part of the job? No. When you know you have helped a pet who was so deeply loved and cherished by their family say goodbye; it is the most rewarding not the worst part of our job.
Written by Carlene Olivieri, Client Care Representative