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to have sobbed my heart out at work today because I shouldn't have to do this

(485 Posts)
caniscantanymore Wed 17-Oct-12 20:53:55

I'm a vet. Some details changed or omitted for anonymity purposes and because I'll get flamed for this.

Today a man brought his dog in to me.

The dog was a large, boisterous adolescent puppy. He hurtled into the room, bouncing up to me excitedly, wagging his tail all the time and nudging at my hand with his muzzle. His big squishy paws crashed against my chest each time he paused to greet me, as he bounded around the room investigating all the smells. He was an unusual cross, very striking to look at and obviously a bright and energetic dog. He was adorable.

The history went like this:

The dog had been bought as a tiny puppy by a couple who were told it was a "designer" cross between two specific small breeds. Now, if the people who bought this puppy had had the slightest inkling about what they were doing it would have been immediately obvious to them that this was most certainly not a cross between two small breeds. But anyway, they didn't have a clue so they bought the cute little puppy from this dubious source (probably at a cost of several hundred pounds) and took it back to their family home, complete with toddler.

The dog grew a bit and it became clear that it was actually going to be really big. It was bouncy, energetic and destructive. It kept racing around and knocking over their small child. So they rehomed it to a family member.

The family member also had children but they were slightly bigger children. The family member really wanted to do the right thing, so they tried to "discipline" the dog. The dog began to show occasional signs of aggression and was completely hyperactive in the home, destructive and unmanageable. I was not surprised to hear this, since it was obvious to me from this dog's heritage that it was the sort of dog which had significant needs in terms of exercise and stimulation. In an attempt to magically resolve the issues the family member had the dog neutered. Which unsurprisingly made no difference.

Today the dog was brought in to be put to sleep. It had growled very aggressively when a child had put its face near his, and between this and an imminent change in circumstances the family member felt unable to manage the dog any more. He had tried local and national rescue organisations, all of which were full. He had nobody to care for the dog overnight tonight. He was not able to take the dog home, partly because of safety concerns and partly because the decision had been taken together as a family that it was the right thing to do.

So I put this healthy, affectionate, vibrant dog to sleep while it munched on treats and the third owner in its short life cried into his fur. Then when it was just me and the body of this poor puppy I had a good old cry myself.

I know there will be people who think I was right to put down a dog who has shown any signs of aggression under any circumstances. I disagree.

I know there will be people who think I was wrong to put down a dog when I could have taken it and found it a new home. I disagree.

I also know that there will be many many people who have no idea that this is happening all the time in this country because of irresponsible ignorant greedy people, selling dogs to irresponsible ignorant feckless people, who then pass them on to naive and thoughtless "rescuers" who eventually get to the end of their tether and bring them to me for euthanasia. All the time.

These are the dogs who bite children in the home due to a total lack of knowledge, reasonable expectations and effort to socialise them adequately.

These are the dogs whose owners can afford four figure sums to buy the latest random mongrel "breed" with a stupid made-up name, but cannot afford fifty quid to get it vaccinated, far less any money at all to treat even minor illnesses.

These are the dogs who clog up rescue centres all over the country, waiting along with thousands and thousands of others for the home with no children, no other pets and eight-foot fences, with an owner who has experience of managing behavioural problems, works from home, has stainless steel furniture and can write blank cheques to pay for the inherited illnesses the dog suffers from. Homes which don't actually exist.

These are the dogs who I have to put down because I know that it is more responsible of me to painlessly take their life than to condemn them to wait with the rest of the enormous population of "difficult" dogs sitting in rescue kennels all over the country.

Please, please, I implore you. Get advice before you take on a dog - from a vet, a qualified positive behaviourist, the Kennel Club, the Blue Cross, the Dog's Trust, the RSPCA - the information is there for the taking, there is no excuse. Go to a decent breeder, who has a waiting list, or a rescue centre which really grills you thoroughly before matching you with a pet. Find out how to bring your puppies up properly so if you do find your circumstances change then at least they are rehomable. Make sure you can afford to pay for the unexpected. Make sure your expectations are fair.

Please, because I can't keep having to do this sad

margaretrose Fri 19-Oct-12 23:42:24

Is awful, do agree. However, also feel v sorry for all the nurses who have to throw away viable babies/foetuses every day, often seeing the same client repeatedly over a year. Why are we so able to grieve for meaningless deaths of animals but not humans? Am not rabidly pro-life at expense of women's sanity and health but have seen first hand how awful it is for staff to see terminations being used as birth control. If it was puppies or kittens there would be an outcry.

ToothbrushThief Sat 20-Oct-12 06:51:44

It's to do with people's perception of 'life' Margaret.
What constitutes a life and who decides if it should be continued?

Huge emotive subject.... Not going there.

I agree with your point, staff working in that role possibly find it distressing

crazyhatlady Sat 20-Oct-12 07:46:23

honeydragon the main reason for not neutering a dog that may be coming into season is that the uterus becomes enlarged/engorged increasing the risk of haemorrhage. However larger breed dogs often don't have their first season until nearer 1yr old so 6 months is usually the best age for neutering. It's also true that neutering before the first season massively reduces the risk of mammary tumours.

HoneyDragon Sat 20-Oct-12 08:22:06

Thanks crazyhatlady.

I'm definitely going to have a word. Especially as the vet originally gave me a price for a Labrador to be spayed at her puppy checks.

When I went in to discuss when to get it done they looked at last recorded weight on the pc and said she would class as a large breed and put the price up by £100! confused

Jux Sun 21-Oct-12 14:51:42

That's interesting, crazyhatlady. When I was a child (getting on for 50 years ago), I remember being told that you had to let a cat have its first season before spaying.

crazyhatlady Sun 21-Oct-12 21:31:23

Yeah that was the thinking back then before advances in medicine/research. Some older vets may still believe this to be the case but i doubt it.

socharlotte Mon 22-Oct-12 09:11:33

YABU.You are a vet.You should no that animals are fundamentaly diferent to people in that they live purely for themselves and in the here and now.That puppy wasn't looking forward to going to university, getting married having puppies of it's own.It makes no difference if it's life ends today
Thousands of lambs and calves are slaughtered every day, do you get emotional about each and every one of them.

Alisvolatpropiis Mon 22-Oct-12 19:48:45

canis your post was really moving and highlights why people should really carefully consider getting a dog including the breed.

socharlotte your charming views are not just limited to autism then. Yes OP is a vet,it shouldn't have to be her job to pts healthy animals because of feckless people. Can't really compare a calf to a dog,if one is being reasonable...calves are kills for food. Wakey Wakey.

Flatbread the way express yourself makes you sound like a closed minded zealot.

pigletmania Mon 22-Oct-12 19:52:02

Socharlotte another of your charming views

pigletmania Mon 22-Oct-12 19:53:07

Think charityvet gave flatbread food for thought

Jux Mon 22-Oct-12 20:47:05

Thanks, crazyhatlady. Unless you have friends in every profession, it's hard to keep track of the changes brought about by research. I expect I have loads of defunct, worthless information hanging over from my childhood....

Hope this thread has gone some way to making some people think a bit more carefully about their responsibility towards creatures who rely on us for their care.

ILiveInAPineapple Mon 22-Oct-12 23:14:26

OP I cried reading you post.
I bred chihuahuas for ten years before my current career, and my parents for thirty years before that.
I know the lengths I and they went to in order to ascertain that our pups went to good homes, and we also, on a couple of occasions took dogs back when the circumstances of the owners meant that they could no longer care for their dog.
It devastates me to know that this is going on, with the regularity that it seems to be.
I don't know what the answer is but I do know that you did the right thing for that dog. I have four chihuahuas now and I know that it would be dreadful for them to move from pillar to post, they would not understand what was happening to them, and I would hate to think of them in a kennel waiting for someone to rehome them.

I really feel for you. It's a bloody tough and nasty part of your job :-(

GoSuckALemon Mon 22-Oct-12 23:29:44

This is horrible but why didn't the vet refuse to PTS? A rescue somewhere would have taken him. I don't think they tried hard enough to find a rescue. A vet practice is a business and PTS brings in money.

Toocber Tue 23-Oct-12 00:03:15

Vets aren't all they're cracked up to be.

Toocber Tue 23-Oct-12 00:03:51

LtEveDallas Tue 23-Oct-12 05:35:03

A 3 year old story written by an ex Vet to promote his book?

OK <<sheesh>>

Toocber Tue 23-Oct-12 13:51:45

"A vet is under no moral or legal obligation to perform a service merely because a pet owner wants us to."

Alisvolatpropiis Tue 23-Oct-12 18:08:10

Gosuck Toocber might I suggest you actually read the entire thread?

ThePlatypusAlwaysTriumphs Fri 26-Oct-12 22:59:01

I've just seen this and as a vet myself can totally empathise with the OP.

gosuck- the problem is that if the vet refuses to PTS the dog, what will hapen to it? I have sometimes refused to pts a dog, but it doesn't mean that dog went on to live a happy healthy life with a better owner, and that also plays on your mind. A lot.

canis I just keep repeating inwardly that this is not my fault. Someone else created this mess and expect us to clear it up. It's truly shit, and you have my sympathies. I had a similar situation last year where a young couple with young children bought a dog from someone on gumtree. Apparently it was "great with other dogs and children". But of course, it wasn't. The young couple took fright when it started going for other dogs and growling at their children. I advised they contact the guy they got it from. Surprise, surprise he wasn't answering his phone. I tried every rescue available, to no avail- the rescue centres/ charities are on their knees with the amount of dogs they are expected to take on because idiots have taken on a dog that they are completely unsuitable owners for. The upshot was that they really didn't want the dog in the house- the female partner had moved out with the kids to her mums because she didn't want them round the dog. The dog didn't come across as particularly aggressive with me, but how would I feel if I forced them to take it home and it did bite one of the kids? Where does that leave me?

Please don't take the high ground until you have been there. It's crap. As for vets make money from pts, that is a horrible thing to say. Most of us love animals and have pets of our own, support owners through euthanasia and care about the animals we deal with (as shows in canis post) The profit on pts is minimal, and not worth caring about. It's not even an issue.

There is a huge problem where I am with people taking on puppies (and yes, paying hundreds for "designer" breeds that they haven't researched) and then rehoming them within the first year. I can often spot them at the first vaccination, but what can I do? It's horrible and demoralising, and it makes me very frustrated. Why have a sled dog if you live in a 3rd floor flat and work 8 hours a day? That dog needs to run! Don't get a border collie and then moan to me about it's bad behaviour (aka herding instinct!)- it's a collie, that what it does! Yes, madam your puppy isn't toilet trained yet- because it is only eight weeks old!

And yes, the people who can pay ££££ for a designer dog are stony broke when it comes to paying for a behaviourist/ vaccination/ dog walker. Some people's attitudes to animals are completely unrealistic and warped. It's ignorance that leads to the death of thousands of unwanted dogs every year, not anything the dogs have done.

Ghouljamaflip Fri 26-Oct-12 23:30:07

canis its shit and no you shouldn't have to do it but at least the current owner stepped up and took responsibility.

As an ex-dog warden I've seen the other side where an owner doesn't take responsibility for what happens to their dog when they've had enough. I lost count of the dogs I picked up which then weren't claimed within the 7 day time frame - 7 days which I spent trying to find a rescue centre place just in case no one came forward. The lucky ones found a place somewhere in the country, the unlucky ones didn't. I drove miles in my own time to take a dog somewhere to give it a chance. The sad fact is that there are too many dogs and not enough spaces in kennels. And if you have a dog you need to re-home, for whatever reason, if you contact a centre you will be asked to hold onto the animal until a space becomes available.........but it never does cos the strays get there first. So it then becomes a choice between having it pts or dump it on the street sad

Then there were the ones we found in the canal or river with a brick round their neck.......the newborn pups stuffed soaking wet in a plastic bag and left in a bin.......the 2 beautiful girls found dead in an abandoned car.....the gorgeous gsd hung by its lead in the woods........I could go on.angry No evidence of owner or anyone to link them to.

It would be wonderful if licenses would have an effect but tbh it won't. We can't ensure that all drivers on the road are licensed let alone insured. Breeders continue unregulated simply because its too easy - you don't need any fancy equipment or specialist knowledge and many see it as an easy way to make money, perpetuated by those who are so desperate for a new puppy that they will get one by mean fair or foul.

Until the general public are educated about the realities of owning a dog and the horrors of un-regulated breeding its never going to change and people like the op will be faced with these decisions. I wish I knew how to change it....sad

SherlustHolmes Tue 07-Jan-14 16:31:54

This is old but it needs a bump.I think this needs a bump. I

SherlustHolmes Tue 07-Jan-14 16:32:47

You get the idea.

LaGuardia Tue 07-Jan-14 16:39:03

I never ever met a vet who was broke and drove a crap car. My heart bleeds for the OP. Not.

Greenkit Tue 07-Jan-14 16:41:23

Well this made me cry

SherlustHolmes Tue 07-Jan-14 16:42:50

LaGuardia you do realise that most vets are employees and do not stand to benefit directly from any of their work?

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