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End of life for critters not horses

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  • End of life for critters not horses

    So what do you feel/think [may be different] about the end of life for critters who are ailing and have serious veterinary issues?

  • #2
    Need more info to answer your question to the best of my ability

    Generally speaking I think and feel that for animals who are suffering that won't get better, and if the kindest thing to do for them is to euthanize, that's what I would do.
    Unrepentant carb eater

    Comment


    • #3
      As in critters that some people would eat? Such as old laying hens, old dairy cows, old ewes?

      Comment


      • #4
        The motto for animals was spoken by Nigel Tuffnel of Spinal Tap: "Have a good time all the time."

        IMO, if you own an animal you should try to help it live up to that, even if the very best thing you can do is give it a rockin' good death.

        It makes no difference to me whether that is a horse, a cat or a snake. And some day, we'll catch up and let people live out Nigel Tuffnel's admirable dream.

        To me, the potential for having to euthanize an animal was always there once I decided to own it. Sh!t happens to 'em. I'm glad that it's physically possible to prevent further suffering if the outcome will be the same anyway. I'm glad it's culturally acceptable. I think it's a privilege to be able to prevent suffering. Not all creatures have that choice so if I can be part of that, I will.
        The armchair saddler
        Politically Pro-Cat

        Comment


        • #5
          I think it's the situation you took on when you took the animal into your care. It's not the fun part where you have puppy breath or young pretty horse or cute playing kitten but it's in the fine print. Some people are able to pass it on but the truly responsible face it and handle it. I hate it when I realize that we're not headed in a positive direction with any of our animals but we don't make them suffer or live pointlessly if they aren't comfortable.

          I'm not sure what the real question is?
          “Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply.” Stephen R. Covey

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          • Original Poster

            #6
            Fair enough, I deliberately made the question open-ended, but unfortunately a bit too vague. Despite that, I appreciate the comments so far.

            I was referring to companion animals or any critter other than an equinoid -- including birds -- that is seen as a pet rather than as a barnyard denizen.

            There are various considerations around the 'euthanize'/'don't euthanize' issue. I've always thought it inconsistent that we automatically consider that choice when an animal is sick with an iffy prognosis, but around the planet almost never do with an ailing great-uncle, for example. Yet some companion animals are personally much closer to the lives of their people than are some tangential human relatives. (Also with humans, where euthanasia is an option such as in a couple European countries, there are criteria under which the person's own choice is paramount. There's no way to get a consent form from a critter.)

            Also, presuming that we choose to euthanize a critter, what should be the criteria for proceeding? It always makes me sad when it seems to come down to an economic decision, particularly when some expensive procedure likely would confer a new lease on life to the critter.

            A year ago one of my Siamese mysteriously developed a pyothorax -- apparently something punctured tissue from the inside out and a rapid raging infection ensued generating truly amazing amounts of fluid surrounding his lungs. Apart from later complications that added a few hundred dollars more, it cost $4,000 to remedy this at the NC State CVM. Today Moxie is just fine. I had no idea how expensive the whole situation would be when I brought him in. I'd guessed at maybe half that. He also had insurance. I almost certainly would have gone ahead anyway, but even when we're in a position to do that because of insurance covering a portion, etc., financial considerations at some point enter the picture.

            Allied to this question is that of the trade-offs we make in deciding between two courses of action such as amputating a leg or paw versus much more costly orthopedic surgery. But that last is probably best discussed on a separate thread sometime.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Adamantane View Post

              There are various considerations around the 'euthanize'/'don't euthanize' issue. so, presuming that we choose to euthanize a critter, what should be the criteria for proceeding? It always makes me sad when it seems to come down to an economic decision, particularly when some expensive procedure likely would confer a new lease on life to the critter.
              I think it's too complex a decision to develop one set of criteria.

              Let's say you have a big old dog that needs to be carried up and down stairs to go to the bathroom - owner is incapable of doing that due to age, infirmity, time, etc. So owner decides to euthanize. Owner two doors down is retired but healthy and has a little old dog that needs to be carried up and down stairs - that owner decides not to euthanize until the dog is truly no longer able to function due to pain or severe infirmity/illness.

              I think that maybe, in the end, each situation is unique and it is just a personal and private decision that we just need to respect the owner's decision. And that there is no one "right" answer.
              Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
              Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
              -Rudyard Kipling

              Comment


              • #8
                Honey, when its time, you feel it in your heart, and nothing and no one can stop you from helping them be free. Some things in life don't fit on a pretty form, some things you just know.
                www.destinationconsensusequus.com
                chaque pas est fait ensemble

                Comment


                • #9
                  I think it is our duty not to allow an animal in our care to suffer. If that means euth, if funds aren't avail for expensive surgery, so be it. It also means carefully weighing the odds of a successful outcome of treatment, and what the recovery consists of. Animals don't understand the concept of "the future", so allowing a foundered horse that will no longer stand, and is in constant pain, to just survive and try to treat for months on end, may not be the kindest thing for the animal.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    IMO, it's not right to make them suffer. Goes the same for humans in my mind too.

                    Comment

                    • Original Poster

                      #11
                      At the risk of sounding like I'm nuts, not counting ongoing and an ever-increasing universe of daily meds, special diet, ongoing vet care and diagnostics, or the cost of having him gene-banked, I have to date counting today's unplanned vet visit, spent at least $14K on medical issues for my senior Siamese, Otto, 15.

                      I participated in OR fork-in-the-road or rational-bet decisions with his NCSCVM surgeons, in which it was was gracious of them to include me. (We collectively made the right choices.)

                      I would unhesitatingly spend as much again as long as there was reasonable prospect of a good outcome, and, as I will explain, even if there weren't such a risk/benefit.

                      I've had many critters over the years, but none even remotely like Otto.

                      In horse intervention terms, $10-15K sadly is pretty routine, but rarely do people spend that much on their in-house companion animals, almost never with a commitment reflexively to double it if needed, with a willingness to raise that if needed.

                      Just before his last and quite dire surgery four years ago, Otto and I had a compelling conversation -- scoff if you will, but it took place and was crystal clear -- during which we agreed that unless and until he unambiguously conveyed that he on his own initiative wished it otherwise -- which as those who know him will acknowledge that he can do -- I would never agree to euthanize him.

                      It's not as if I haven't dealt with critter mortality many times in my life. When I was 15 I got up every 4 hours during the night in Minnesota winter to dose antibiotics that achieved the seeming miracle of rescuing one of the guinea pigs I bred from the virtually inevitable death from pneumonia that all dozens of others over the years suffered during the winter months. (Simeon lived for years, many in the care of the little girl to whom I entrusted him when i went to college.) I have lost many critters, personally buried and mourned them all.

                      But this particular critter is one apart.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Adamantane View Post
                        A
                        But this particular critter is one apart.
                        The question you need to ask yourself if - are you keeping him going for you? Or for him?

                        I really and truly don't intend for that comment to be hurtful. Not at all. Like you I've had the special the one - the one I could not bear to give up on.

                        But we have to. At some point we must say to ourselves that we may no longer be acting in the animals best interest. That point does not have a dollar figure. You are not nuts for spending that much money on an animal. It's your money and it's a private decision.

                        The only question you need to be asking yourself is if you are keeping the animal going because you cannot bear to let him go, or if it's because the animal has a good chance of quality life, even in the short term.

                        You are not a bad person, selfish, or lacking in character or moral feeling if you let Otto go. You may be giving him the best gift we can give to a much loved animal. A peaceful and painless death.

                        Giving that gift will not make you feel better - you will grieve and beat yourself up. We all do. I don't know that there is anything anyone can do or say to help you - but know that most, if not all of us have been where you are. And we will be again - that's the insane thing. We'll do it again.

                        Think about it, talk to your vet, talk to a trusted friend. Let them counsel you. But know that we know it is a painful decision and we understand.
                        Brothers and sisters, I bid you beware
                        Of giving your heart to a dog to tear.
                        -Rudyard Kipling

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          There are people who will say, if you don't have the money or if you don't intend to "take care of them" then don't have them.
                          I don't exactly say that. I agree you need to care for them the best you can to a reasonable standard, of course. Certain veterinary care should be expected.
                          I don't say euthanize them because they have mites in their ear, or worms. But there comes a time when you have to make reasonable, personal, individual decisions.
                          I have watched people who did not really have the means spend five figures in vet bills to treat their dogs, cats, horses, and four figures on things like guinea pigs and iguanas. When you are dipping into your IRA for a 14 year old dog with pancreatic cancer, that just seems like perhaps a misguided decision. (the dog did live 1 more year, the owner did eventually regret her decision)
                          For what it's worth, we're long overdue for some serious discussion on humane end of life decisions for US. I have spent the last 8 years watching two close relatives die slowly of dreadful progressive debilitating diseases. Life insurance compels people to not commit suicide, and homicide laws compel people not to put loved ones out of their misery. I'm never surprised when I hear about murder-suicides in older couples with medical problems. We almost make it the only way out. We are more humane to our animals than we are to ourselves.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            To me, there's a pretty clear order of things.

                            1. All things being equal, you put the animal's "wishes" (as you can infer them) first. That means you spend when you can, no holds barred, OR you refrain from trying miracle/long odds interventions when that would be best for the animal.

                            2. When things are not equal-- two things may suffer (the animal and you), you minimize the total amount of suffering to be done.

                            3. While minimizing the total suffering to all involve, you bend over backwards to make sure that the less powerful being involved gets his/her wishes considered.

                            What I mean in 2/3 is the case where it would be more convenient/cheaper/easier for the animal to be euthanized. That might be true for all involved and certainly true for the person. But the person has much more power in the situation, so that has to be checked. By the same token, the person may have a whole suite of people for whom they must minimize suffering-- say a family who gets utilities cut off because the animal's medical bills were huge and unpayable.

                            And another thing!

                            This all goes under the category of "bioethics" in formal philosophy. There's even some formal philosophy in my reasoning. John Rawls' theory of justice is lurking behind my ideas about how the power differential ought to figure into decision making.

                            But the point of this rant is that people who practice thinking through all this crap with grandmothers and premature babies are way, way off base. Were they to spend more time thinking (and feeling) their way through animal euthanasia, they'd do much, much better by people.

                            I'm speaking to the soft-handed academic types who haven't ever walked the walk with animals that they didn't consider pets and already anthropomorphize. If you compare all animals to people-- hoping to get to a better bioethics for people in the end-- you just doomed yourself at the outset.

                            I'd like these folks to walk mile in the shoes of someone who is confronted with a horse they can't fix, or a meat animal they have raised and know they must kill, and then call me back.
                            The armchair saddler
                            Politically Pro-Cat

                            Comment

                            • Original Poster

                              #15
                              I am a Nozick guy, anti-Rawls, but I really like your thoughtful reflections.

                              Comment

                              • Original Poster

                                #16
                                Originally posted by JSwan View Post
                                The question you need to ask yourself if - are you keeping him going for you? Or for him?

                                I really and truly don't intend for that comment to be hurtful. Not at all. Like you I've had the special the one - the one I could not bear to give up on.

                                But we have to. At some point we must say to ourselves that we may no longer be acting in the animals best interest. That point does not have a dollar figure. You are not nuts for spending that much money on an animal. It's your money and it's a private decision.

                                The only question you need to be asking yourself is if you are keeping the animal going because you cannot bear to let him go, or if it's because the animal has a good chance of quality life, even in the short term.

                                You are not a bad person, selfish, or lacking in character or moral feeling if you let Otto go. You may be giving him the best gift we can give to a much loved animal. A peaceful and painless death.

                                Giving that gift will not make you feel better - you will grieve and beat yourself up. We all do. I don't know that there is anything anyone can do or say to help you - but know that most, if not all of us have been where you are. And we will be again - that's the insane thing. We'll do it again.

                                Think about it, talk to your vet, talk to a trusted friend. Let them counsel you. But know that we know it is a painful decision and we understand.
                                Thank you for your lovely nuanced reply. Your question is very apposite.

                                I regard Otto as I would regard my deeply beloved late grandmother, or my late parents, or the son I never so far have had, or both my ex-wives had that ever become a consideration.

                                Which means that there is a component for the individual involved, as well as a component involving my loss.

                                I am not hanging on. I might be tempted but I am very engaged with my boy.

                                It's just that in the scheme of things I am the one with the checkbook.

                                If and when Otto tells me the time has come -- and he can and will -- I will honor his desire, just as I honored my late mother's desire [my second wife heard the whole discussion in real time because she was on the other line] when the ER docs at Fairview Southdale in Edina., MN, asked if I wanted to [illegally and more importantly, immorally] overrule Mom's unambiguous Health Care Directive.

                                Comment


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Adamantane View Post
                                  Thank you for your lovely nuanced reply. Your question is very apposite.

                                  I regard Otto as I would regard my deeply beloved late grandmother, or my late parents, or the son I never so far have had, or both my ex-wives had that ever become a consideration.

                                  Which means that there is a component for the individual involved, as well as a component involving my loss.

                                  I am not hanging on. I might be tempted but I am very engaged with my boy.

                                  It's just that in the scheme of things I am the one with the checkbook.

                                  If and when Otto tells me the time has come -- and he can and will -- I will honor his desire, just as I honored my late mother's desire [my second wife heard the whole discussion in real time because she was on the other line] when the ER docs at Fairview Southdale in Edina., MN, asked if I wanted to [illegally and more importantly, immorally] overrule Mom's unambiguous Health Care Directive.
                                  I am sorry but this is just plain insane. Reminds me of the rather demented woman who told me she would not sacrifice a baboon to save her grandmother. I suppose if Otto had to be euthanized to save her, too bad granny. If anyone had ever said this before the advent of the Greenie, animal as human entities movement, they would have rightfully been sent to some form of spiritual therapy. Please reconsider having a son until you get some help.
                                  "We, too, will be remembered not for victories or defeats in battle or in politics, but for our contribution to the human spirit." JFK

                                  Comment

                                  • Original Poster

                                    #18
                                    Originally posted by Calamber View Post
                                    I am sorry but this is just plain insane. Reminds me of the rather demented woman who told me she would not sacrifice a baboon to save her grandmother. I suppose if Otto had to be euthanized to save her, too bad granny. If anyone had ever said this before the advent of the Greenie, animal as human entities movement, they would have rightfully been sent to some form of spiritual therapy. Please reconsider having a son until you get some help.
                                    This does not compute. Take a deep breath, go get and drink a big glass of cold water and try again later.

                                    Comment


                                    • #19
                                      i think that too often keeping a failing pet alive is about the owner's fear of loss and/or a way to demonstrate to the world something about themselves. Why in the world would another pet owner's inclination to euthanize at point A or B be your concern, unless part of your own identity is tied up in being the kind of person who wouldn't do that and making sure everyone knows that.

                                      I feel sorry for pets who basically have to hire a plane trailing a banner saying I want to die!! before the owner will agree to let him go.

                                      Comment

                                      • Original Poster

                                        #20
                                        This thread is unearthing some intriguing feelings and reactions, as I hoped it would.

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