Veterinarian euthanised five healthy dogs in one day and is tormented by it

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Veterinarian euthanized 5 healthy adoptable dogs in one day

A veterinarian working in South Africa, Amy Jackson-Moss, posted on her Facebook page “Today I euthanized five dogs”. She said that it is not uncommon for her to kill healthy dogs. It is ‘killing’ and not euthanasia, by the way. She is trying to find acceptance of what she does by using the word ‘euthanised’ but that much abused word only applies to the humane and gentle killing of terminally ill animals or animals who cannot be saved. These were five healthy dogs, perfectly well-behaved and highly adoptable.

They were only killed because there are too many dogs to rehome. Jackson-Moss has written a very long Facebook post (see below) which has been picked up by the news media online. She said that it has been in her head for nearly 3 years and on August 22, 2021 she felt that she had the courage to discuss it openly on social media. It clearly torments her, if that is not too strong a word.

Veterinarian euthanized 5 healthy adoptable dogs in one day

Veterinarian euthanized 5 healthy adoptable dogs in one day. Photo: Facebook.

Poignantly, she said that the five dogs that she “put down” were excited to see her except for one who was nervous. She then killed them. Heartbreaking. When she does it she apologises to the dogs and speaks to them in kindly way. She sedates them first so that they are asleep when their lives are taken from them. She euthanized them in their kennels to make it easier for them.

She reckons that it is better for them if they can die on a bed and blanket that they have used for comfort for the past few weeks and even months. And she says that she makes sure no other dog witnesses the euthanasia. Sadly, she writes that usually the dogs bark a lot when there’s any small movement or activity near their kennels but when she euthanised the dogs there was silence. She believes that they know and she wonders if they are thinking that their time will come next.

Entirely understandably, it is clear that Amy Jackson-Moss finds the euthanasia of healthy dogs very hard to deal with. It is probably fair to say that the euthanasia of healthy cats and dogs is the most stressful work that veterinarians and shelter workers have to do. It can create burnout and compassion fatigue. It probably results in some shelter workers leaving because it’s too distressing.

She writes, “I have tried my best to cope with it as I know many others do too – by doing what I believe is everything humanly possible to find unwanted dogs and cats homes. I spend hours of my time holding them while they pose for photos, writing posts for Facebook, advertising them and putting their stories and personalities into words as best I can all in the hopes of someone deciding to choose them.”

I wonder if shelters in South Africa could do better in finding new homes for the dogs? I don’t know. In America there is a no-kill movement led by Nathan Winograd who is the world’s expert on how to maximise the adoption of unwanted dogs at shelters to avoid killing them. I wonder if Amy has read some of his articles or knows of him. I wonder if shelter directors and managers have been in contact with him or have his book. There’s lots that can be done but perhaps the situation is dire in South Africa and the only solution is the way that Amy Jackson-Moss has dealt with it; to end the lives of healthy dogs.

Her Facebook post is embedded into this page below. One day it will disappear no doubt. When and if that happens I apologise but I have no control over it.

Jackson-Moss works at the Makana Vet Clinic and lives at Grahamstown, Eastern Cape, South Africa.

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