My First Time

20 Apr

Euthanasia.

A four syllable word that brings a lot of discomfort, both in the hearts and the minds of those speaking and hearing it.

It isn’t something that anyone enjoys doing. If animal lovers had their way, it wouldn’t exist…and thats a fact that is true across the board. Sometimes, as you will hear most people put it, its a necessary evil. This is especially true in animals who are suffering. If you’ve ever been in extreme pain, you know that it can be so bad that you wish you could just cease to exist. We all wish this was the only time it had to be done…in extreme cases. Sometimes, its not. There are so many animals in this world that there is no possible way for us to find homes for all of them. Some of them can’t even be in the same room as someone. I don’t know if that is something I could’ve fathomed as an absolute until I worked with some of the animals I have.

Sometimes, animals just have to be euthanized. I don’t like it, but how can you adopt out an animal knowing that it could potentially kill a child? Or another pet? Or you? How can you say its okay to let an animal keep suffering?

On April 15, 2012, I euthanized my first animal. It was a 16 year old brown tiger cat whose health was failing, and it was requested to be put down by its [loving] owner.

This wasn’t my first time in the euthanasia room by far. I’d assisted many times before, and I had even completed injecting the drug on animals that had already had most of it injected already (to help me become competent in intravenous injection).

This time it was different. This time it was all me.

The problem with older cats is that it is much harder to find veins, and it is much easier to blow them. As with all the animals that come into that room, I gave her attention. I picked her up, scratched her head, and thus began the purring. The purring is usually the hardest part.

Very awkwardly, I put my thumb against the vein to help stop it from moving. I, slowly, put the needle under the skin. I missed. Tried again, and got it. Then…the vein blew. I couldn’t use that leg again, so I tried the other one. It was much less awkward on this leg, and I got the vein on the first try.

And it was done.

It was rather…uneventful? I didn’t really feel…anything. Maybe it was because I had already been numbed by previous events of the day (the terror involved with trying to break up a dog fight), or maybe it was that I’ve accepted that euthanasia is a fact of life in the shelter. Maybe it was even because I didn’t know the animal personally, because I’ve had animals I was close to put down for various reasons and it sucks; I have to choke back tears every time, while I continue to toil away at my duties.

As I walk down the path toward being a veterinarian, I’ve had to do many things that I haven’t wanted to do, and I’m sure I’ll have to do many more. Its a combination of these things that makes me not only a well-rounded veterinarian, but a well-rounded human being as well. I can understand deeper things than just existence.

Once again, be a responsible pet owner. Socialize your animals, train your animals, and most of all get them spayed and neutered. Maybe someday, if people become more responsible, we can get to a point in which euthanasia becomes uncommon in the shelter.

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