chris sent me a link for a post on the drugs used in euthanasia and then someone asked a question on one of the forums...are there "no-kill" shelters who do not euthanize to end suffering at the end of life?
so i am thnking on this. i know of one shelter that does not euthanize, ever...and yes animals do die there...so i guess that is could be considered a "no kill" shelter but is it really and is it humane?
and that brings up the question...do ALL dying animals need to be euthanized to end their suffering? well the ones who are suffering sure do but not all deaths are full of pain. here is my take on this...
with my human patients that are dying...we do not euthanize. we support them and medically give them the best that we can to maintain their comfort while they die.
to some extent this can be done with animals too but not as easily because animals cannot talk and tell you how they feel.
i have consciously allowed a few animals to die here without interference...they APPEARED to be comfortable and were coping well but to cover all bases i gave them appropriate meds just in case. the reason i did not interfer in those few instances was because death is a natural process and if symptoms are controlled, there is no reason to push them along if they are doing fine on their own.
but MOST animals are euthanizied here...simply either because i knew their suffering is reaching beyond what i can care for or because i see what COULD be coming up next and i knew that was way beyond us both too and not worth the risk.
there are some animals who just up and die without sending me prior notice and others like nola that i just don't read what is going on correctly until after we hit an end of life crises.
death is sometimes cooperative and somewhat predictable and gives me the opportunity to decide what is best for them. but sometimes it is not either of those things, it is just a sneaking, twisted, convoluted occurence that leaves me dazed and confused.
i have learned a few things over the years...dying is not always linked to suffering but sometimes it is. death is not predictable or always user friendly so extreme caution is needed, and death itself is not the final monster...life is. and these animals are alive until the moment of their deaths...we as rescuers are responsible for each and every second of happiness or suffering that occurs while in our care.
so we better be prepared to accept what that responsibility and burden entails and not just brush it off with some kind of excuse.
suffering comes in many forms, physical, emotional, mental or spiritual....unredeemible suffering needs to be dealt with. and yet not all creatures suffer at the end of their life and this is true for a couple of reasons.
like humans...animals have unique personalities...some are strong and cope well with adversity and others do not. some have the ability to peacefully accept the ending of their life...others do not. some have pain issues or breathing issues or nausea issues and that impacts their comfort level, others do not suffer these things, they just slow down, and become tired as their life fades away. some are fearful of what is happening to them, and others are content. nature herself has some built in mechanisms to decrease the suffering at death...hypothermia, comatose states, some hormonal releases to create a separation of body and mind as they near death.
all of these things and many more determine the quality of a life ending plus a whole lot more that we just do not know about yet.
true no kill shelters are NOT something to brag about....this means that they turn a blind eye to the suffering of those they are sworn to protect. shelters who only euthanize at the end of life or to end suffering are not really no kill but as yet we don't have a word to describe what we actually do...low kill is not right...maybe compassionate-kill.
lots of folks have issues with the word "kill" but if you take something that it alive and then actively do something that took that life away...that is killing. was it absolutely necessary because of suffering? maybe, but it is killing none the same.
and trust me, the act of doing nothing at all? is still killing too...death in our care is still death in our care and we need to be aware of this, it does not let us off the responsibility hook.
i could think on this all day and could find new paths to explore, but i have work to do so i better get moving here.
but one last thought before i go...it is pretty darn easy for someone to second guess me here from the comfort of their happy, controlled and organized little life....second guessing comes easy to those not standing on the actual responsibility and action line. what you would do,if you were the one responsible, means nothing to me. you are not responsible because you have chosen not to be. it is a good idea to keep this in mind, life and death is not a "if it was me" fantasy.
does this mean you can't have a valid opinion? of course you can.... as long as you understand that an opinion on what you are not living may not match the the one that is actually being lived.
be fair...this is hard enough as it is.