in thinking about about terminal illness shelter care...
Carol · Dec. 17, 2008
there is one important thing to never forget, in shelter care...end of life care does not mean passive non-intervention. it does not mean coming into your shelter (as in FF) and finding a dead cat and saying to yourself...oh well, he was old, he was sick, it was the owners fault for dumping him out in the street.
animals do die sometimes without sending us prior notice...but the question to be looked at hard and true every single time is...did he really not send any notice or did we just ignore it? and if we did ignore it, what else did we not see and help them with? did we let them feel unwell and suffer in illness and not intervene?
there is no excuse for an animal dying without every intelligent, educated, compassionate and competent attempt to try to make them feel better. maybe a life threatening illness or combination of symptoms like...dehydration, fatty liver, infection, anorexia, stress, URI, kidney or cardiac disease...whatever is threatening their current wellbeing and ultimate quality of life can be minimized or even resolved with responsible care.
any shelter who has animals dying within their care needs to take a very hard and honest look at how their actions or inactions contributed to this animal's death. it is not good enough to shrug your shoulders and say...he had cancer, his heart was toast, he was old, he couldn't handle the stress of being here...this just means two things...you didn't know and you didn't care.
i did an inservice at one of the bigger public shelters a few years ago...they had cats dying simply because they did not see what was happening around them. you have to see, you have to know, you have to ACT...you have to take full responsibility for seeing and knowing without any excuse.
this is where shelters like FF and FLOCK go wrong...they do not accept that they hold the final and ultimate responsibility once they let an animal come thru their door.
that hair shirt i sometimes wear, the way i beat myself up, the unreal expectations of myself that i strive for are reduced to one simple thing...it is my job to take seriously my responsibility to them and that means never being passive or blindly accepting or morally lazy of any animal's health, happiness or ultimate death.
they are allowed to die here...in comfort, care, respect and dignity...they are not allowed to die unseen and forgotten in a corner because i was too busy, too distracted, too tired, or too stupid to see.