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Euthanasia Policy

Does Animals in Distress put any animals to sleep?

Animals in Distress strives to make sure that no rehomeable animal in our care is put to sleep. However, the Charity accepts with great reluctance, that in certain circumstances, we do sometimes have to make the difficult decision to euthanise an animal. Taking the responsible decision to put an animal to sleep is a sad but unavoidable part of animal welfare work.

Animals in Distress believes that every animal shall have a life worth living, not purely that its physical needs are met. Euthanasia can be a response to circumstances in which health and / or welfare are irreversibly and severely compromised and when it is not possible to meet an animal’s needs. Once an animal’s quality of life has deteriorated to the point where freedom from discomfort and pain (physical and mental) is no longer possible, euthanasia becomes the humane option.

What does Animals in Distress consider are the key factors in deciding whether euthanasia shall be considered?

  • To prevent pain or suffering (including mental and emotional).
  • If an animal poses an unacceptable risk to people or to other animals.
  • If quality of life for the animal is compromised to an unacceptable degree, with no realistic prospect of improvement.

What are the main reasons that Animals in Distress would put a pet to sleep?

  • The animal has a serious injury, illness or disease which, despite treatment, would make their quality of life unacceptable.
  • They have an infectious disease which poses a serious health risk to other animals, either at Animals in Distress or in the community if they were rehomed.
  • They have a severe behavioural problem which could make them a danger to staff, volunteers, potential new owners, and the public or other animals. The Charity would not knowingly put the public or other animals at risk by rehoming animals considered as a potential threat to safety.
  • The animal is an illegal dog under the Dangerous Dogs Act 1991 and it would be against the law to rehome it.

Who makes the decision to put an Animals in Distress pet to sleep?

The primary purpose of euthanasia is to relieve suffering. The decision to follow this option will be based on an assessment of many factors. These may include the extent and nature of the disease or injuries, other treatment options, the prognosis and potential quality of life after treatment, the availability and likelihood of success of treatment, the animal’s age and / or other disease / health status and the ability to fund the treatment.

All dogs, cats, rabbits and guinea pigs that come to Animals in Distress are assessed by a veterinary surgeon and by experienced members of our staff who are responsible for the pet’s day to day care. Any decision to euthanise an animal is made on a case-by-case basis, taking into account the individual animal. In most cases, this decision is only made after rehabilitation has been explored and a full and thorough examination carried out to determine the facts surrounding each individual case.

A decision to euthanise is not taken lightly, it is primarily upon veterinary advice but is always a team decision, which is only made after a thorough assessment has been carried out. Euthanasia is only carried out by or under the direction of a veterinary surgeon using an approved humane method such as intravenous injection and, where appropriate, using pre-euthanasia sedation. It is always carried out in a timely fashion to ensure against prolonged physical or emotional suffering.