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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

imperialstateknickers Wed 17-Oct-12 21:11:24

Thanks for putting it in AIBU with a nice intriguing title, really really hope that your message gets out. I absolutely agree with you about all the things you say about the puppy industry as it is at the moment, for every responsible decent breeder there seems to be 50 dodgy ones, at best naive at worst seriously unscrupulous.

ToothGah Wed 17-Oct-12 21:12:31

What cross of breeds was he?

HoneyDragon Wed 17-Oct-12 21:12:44

No one could flame you sad, I can't imagine all the years of training to save animals life's, and you also have to shoulder a burden like this too.

scardeycat Wed 17-Oct-12 21:13:00

Your post made me try.

We have our dog as a result of a similar situation.

Makes me so sad.

hatesponge Wed 17-Oct-12 21:13:54

That's really sad.

Among certain areas of society, dog breeding seems increasingly to be seen as a way to make a quick buck, not just puppy farms anymore but locally we seem to have a worrying number of people trying to flog pitbull crosses 'long legged staffs' for £500, plus lots of other dodgy crossbreeds...

MrsApplepants Wed 17-Oct-12 21:14:18

Yes, do send your post to newspapers, a good suggestion.

kissyfur Wed 17-Oct-12 21:14:56

Such a sad post, I'm so sorry you had to do this sadsad

DrCoconut Wed 17-Oct-12 21:15:54

I refuse to have a dog because we don't have the time, space and resources to properly care for one. DS1 used to beg for one because other kids had dogs but I have maintained that the answer is no and will stay no. It is irresponsible to get any pet unless you are certain you can care for it through thick and thin.

TransatlanticCityGirl Wed 17-Oct-12 21:17:09

I'm really sorry you've had to go through this. I have to be honest however - I believe it is wrong to "euthanise" a pet in any circumstance, let alone because it is unwanted. I realise the support infrastructure simply isn't there, and for that reason you probably felt you didn't have a choice. But as long as families have a way out, without having to take responsibility, I don't think anyone except the most compassionate will ever be motivated to do something about it.

This story makes me feel so sad. You are so very right to educate people about the ramifications of their decisions with regard to purchasing a pet. However I also feel you were wrong to grant this family's request. Sorry, I know it's not what you want to hear... but it's how I honestly feel.

caniscantanymore Wed 17-Oct-12 21:17:13

I'm really not going to be drawn on details of this case because I have a duty of confidentiality. But not breeds which one would associate with being easy family pets.

cutegorilla Wed 17-Oct-12 21:19:04

And while the rescue centres are flooded with dogs like these waiting for the non-existant perfect home, others that are better candidates for rehoming get destroyed because there is no space for them. Then people trying to do the right thing go to get a dog from a rescue and if they're unlucky go somewhere that just wants to shift the dogs they've got rather than find the right match between dog and home. They get an unsuitable dog and rescue dogs get a bad reputation putting more people off taking them in.

It is so depressing.

Everybody considering getting a dog should read and re-read your OP. Then, if you still think you can give a dog a good home research, research, research. If you want to get a puppy get the right breed, find the right breeder. Don't rush, you sometimes have to wait a while for the right pup. If you want to get a rescue dog then find out as much as you can about the place that you are getting it from! The information is all out there.

caniscantanymore Wed 17-Oct-12 21:19:46

Transatlantic, I am all ears and delighted to hear that someone has a solution! What should I have done?

MoonlightandWerewolves Wed 17-Oct-12 21:20:22

So sorry you're having to go through this time and again, but, echoing LFC those animals are lucky that you do. If they can't be re-homed, then euthanasia is far, far kinder than just being turfed out to become a stray, or being abused by an owner who now resents them. Without people like you, these animals wouldn't even have the dignity of a good death.

I used to volunteer in a horse welfare place, so know a little bit where you're coming from.
Maybe the thing to try to hold onto, though, is remembering all of the times, and there will be many, where you helped an animal to recover, or where you found them a new home to be happy in.

daisydotandgertie Wed 17-Oct-12 21:20:38

But tooth - that's the point. There are too many dogs which are bred by people who are in it simply to make money. Those dogs are sold as fashion accessories with a trendy bloody made up name to people who are not equipped, interested or willing to socialise, train or care for the dogs and eventually decide to put them up for rehoming. And add to that the unknown nature of cross breeding; it is impossible to KNOW how the puppies of any mating will turn out and a cross breed makes it a very high risk exercise indeed.

But they are not rehomable. There are no homes suitable for dogs which have been badly bred, badly socialised, badly trained and often badly treated. They would sit in kennels, waiting and waiting. Stuck in a miserable existance through no fault of their own.

OP. I have no idea how you do your job. I wouldn't have the strength. I am sorry it is so hard.

ethelb Wed 17-Oct-12 21:21:00

I'm sorry you had to do this. It is terribly sad all round.

Just out of interest how do you think the dog could have been better disciplined? And what kind of expectations did they have that you think were wrong?

Northernlurkerisbehindyouboo Wed 17-Oct-12 21:21:19

Transatlantic - what if she'd refused though? The owner would have gone to another vet till he found one to do it - stressing out the animal massively as he did so. This is an awful situation. In no sense is it right - but that doesn't make the OP wrong imo. She has a professional duty to prevent suffering to the animal and she did that.

pegster Wed 17-Oct-12 21:22:05

I too am a vet and I too have sobbed over euthanasia's that could have been prevented if people had sort advice before introducing a new & entirely unsuitable pet into their homes. sad
I hope you (& I) have a better day tomorrow - it can be such a rewarding career and yet some days are just crap

PoppadomPreach Wed 17-Oct-12 21:24:14

Well-written, poignant post. I agree with every point. I'm sorry you have to "clear up the mess" created by all the idiots concerned.

GossipWitch Wed 17-Oct-12 21:25:11

I have tears, how sad for you and the puppy sad I will admit I'm not a dog person, I love them to pieces but I haven't got a clue on how to look after them, so I have cat's instead (watches kitten playing with a tea towel) I will never have a dog, as I think it would be unfair on the dog to have such an incompetent owner, but this is so sad.

suburbophobe Wed 17-Oct-12 21:25:29

Thank you for posting and highlighting this horrific situation.

GhostofMammaTJ Wed 17-Oct-12 21:26:37

That is so sad.

My dog was a reject too. We got her when she was 4 years old. Her previous owner had had her for a year. He had got her for his wife and then she had died. He then met someone else and was moving in with her.

We found out later that she had had 5 different homes before she came to us. She is now 11. I keep being reported to the RSPCA for an 'untreated' skin condition. This skin condition is in fact treated with cortisone injections, but to limited effect. It gets worse just after her flea treatment, so think she may be allergic to that. She is also allergic to fleas, so we can't not give it.

The only fault I have with my beautiful whippet/border collie cross is that she loves to chew electrical wires-one iron, one new vaccuum cleaner and two DS chargers ruined in her time with us. We manage it by mostly not leaving her alone with anything with wires on it.

We are moving next year, when she will be 12 1/2. I have a lovely lady who walks her every day for me. Our lives are going to change radically when we move. I shall be at full time university instead of being at home for much of the day, my DP will be working full time and my DC will be at school. The lady who walks her for me has said she would like to keep her when we move as her DH has now retired. The dog would have company of people she knows and who know and love her. I would be reluctant to leave her, but feel it will be for the best.

I do understand the peopls not wanting to put their children at risk though. I had my DD play with our dog before we committed to having her and we also had her while her previous owner was on holiday to make sure she suited us and we suited her.

Jux Wed 17-Oct-12 21:27:25

OP, very moving post, and I heartily agree with you.

What about reintroducing the dog license? Do you think that would reduce the number of irresponsible breeders and owners?

BonVoyageCharlieBrown Wed 17-Oct-12 21:28:57


Kormachameleon Wed 17-Oct-12 21:29:03

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

ginmakesitallok Wed 17-Oct-12 21:29:23

canis - wonderful post. It's because you feel this way that you must make a fabulous vet. In the circumstances you did what you could, you did what you had to, there's no right or wrong. Keep caring.

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