I starting a section called medical on this blog – as I am so often asked medical and euthanasia questions. The opionions expressed in this medical section are my own opinions, and only based on my experience in rehabbing sick chickens and animals – what we have tried and been succesful with, or unsuccessful. I am NOT a vet, and if you have access to a vet, that is the route you should go for responsible animal care. Our blog could assist you in making decisions, or in supportive care, but we are not a substitute for good veterinary care or advice.
Euthanasia is an ethical and personal decision in itself, never mind the ethics then around how to euthanase.
I am pro euthanasia if the animal is suffering more than what I would persoanlly want to go through (by the way – the option of euthanasia is what I would want for myself, which is the only reason I can enetertain this as a possibility). If there is no quality of life, and no near future hope of a decent quality of life.
Euthanasia refers to circumstances where:
- pain, distress or suffering are likely to exceed designated levels and cannot be alleviated promptly (see Section 1.21 of the Code)
- the health or well-being of the animal is grounds for concern.
I am not in favour of euthanasing healthy animals, but understand the welfare issues surrounding this.
Compassionate euthanasia involves the loss of consciousness and function simultaneously. Any drug that paralyses muscle use, but conciousness remains while suffocation occurs, for me, is not humane. For example with drowning, function is lost before consciousness – this is not humane. Front slitting of throat – so common in abbatoirs – the animal loses function, but not consciousness. Yuck! The drug ‘euthanase’ , for example, assists the loss of both conciousness and function simultaneously. There are other methods that achieve the same result.
These are the guidelines I use before euthanasing:
1. I never euthanase without a proper 2nd opinion (preferably veterinary – and a veterinarian I have a relationship with and trust). I cannot reverse my decision, therefore it needs to be a well considered decision.
2. I keep in mind that birds hide pain exceptionally well – you will see severe pain through rapid breathing, sometimes open mouth breathing, loss of appetite, physical falling or difficulty walking, abdominal breathing (breathing movement almost happens in bum region )
3. In the abscence of birds or animals being able to tell us what’s wrong, we must assume that what would be painful for us would be painful for them.
4. I try what I can to prolong life in a humane way before making that decision, unless keeping them going for even a day more would just be torture.
5. I spend time watching a healthy hen (animal) for 1 minute and record everything she does in that one minute (head turns, pecks floor, runs three steps etc) – now spend 1 minute on your unhealthy hen (animal), and see if vast difference in behaviour). How big is that gap?
6. Is your hen eating, drinking, foraging, preening? If they are too ill to eat or drink, then I assist. If this goes on for too long, I re assess. Starving or de hydrating is a terrible way to die.
7. I spend a lot of time before making a decision to euthanase, sitting quietly with my animals. This allows me to be present to their pain and discomfort, and to make a better decision.
8. I will always try and euthanse at the place where the animal lives, if this is possible. It reduces stress.
9. If possible I will always try and medicate my animals pre euthanasia to limit anxiety.
10. I always stay with my animals up until their last breath. As painful as losing something you love can be, I would want the people and animals I love around me in my last momemts. I believe this is the courageous and compassionate thing to do. “What is best for the animal is not what is always best for the owner,” Rauch
other link on valid reasons for euthanasia: