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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

caniscantanymore Wed 17-Oct-12 21:29:34


Just out of interest how do you think the dog could have been better disciplined?
It didn't need discipline. It needed stimulation, training, exercise, routine and consistency.

And what kind of expectations did they have that you think were wrong?
That a dog of extremely challenging breeding will automatically fit into their busy lives. That a dog should tolerate its personal space being invaded by tiny humans at their whim. That whipping off its testes would somehow turn it into Lassie overnight. That buying a dog from some stupid twat in a back alley would ever end well. It's endless.

peg wine for you.

ratbagcatbag Wed 17-Oct-12 21:30:02

Having a cry too, in my youthful more stupid days, as a family we wanted a dog, had zero money and at 17 we looked in the paper for a dog free to good home and found one, a typical staffy x, he was 8 months old, not socialised and just a lot mad. My dad left soon after leaving my disabled mum with him (I'd just moved out) however for all his madness he's now 13, and although not ideal in in his mannerisms, he's a soft daft dog that we wouldn't be without. He wouldn't stand a chance of being rehomed if he needed to be, but he is for better or worse a dopey dog for life. If I did it again, I'd definitely look into it properly and go for a rescue dog, but as I work full time and have a demanding cat then it won't be for several years. sad

Viewofthehills Wed 17-Oct-12 21:30:48

I would love to have a dog, but know that at the moment I don't have time to look after one properly. I also know that the dogs i like have been brought up properly (very much like the children I lie).

I am so sad for you, that you have to do this so often. It is terribly unfair.

IneedAsockamnesty Wed 17-Oct-12 21:31:28

what everybody else has said and i really feel for you

Sunnywithachanceofshowers Wed 17-Oct-12 21:31:37

OP I agree with you entirely sad

UndeadPixie Wed 17-Oct-12 21:33:43

Oh OP sad I wish they'd bring in some sort of system for owning and buying dogs, to make sure that people know what on earth they re doing before they take them on sad

OovoofWelcome Wed 17-Oct-12 21:35:09

I second purplepansy - send your OP to some newspapers.

Articulate, heartfelt and powerful.


QueenofNightmares Wed 17-Oct-12 21:39:23

I'm so sorry for you for having to do such a thing and for all the animals out there that just weren't good enough for their owners. I took in my little man because they were going to have him PTS after being bounced around every family member going hes such a joy to have in my life he was 7 when we took him in and he still thinks hes a puppy I wouldn't give him up for love nor money.

I agree with Northern though Cats are treated so fucking vilely too they're seen as even more disposable than dogs I have a 'friend' who is buying two kittens (she already has 2 cats) one for her DD9 and one for herself neither will apparently be neutered she also told me when she moves she plans to get rid of the two older cats sad I'm afraid I told her exactly what I thought of that but she has no fucking shame and really doesn't care the cats are flea infested, love starved and terrified of the smallest sound.

There's a staffy round the corner from me shes a beautiful girl and so friendly but she's terrified all the time I don't know what they do to her but she cowers away from you at first and never stops shaking. I always stop to say hello and give her some attention I just want her to know that someone gives a shit about her and shes not alone.

picnicbasketcase Wed 17-Oct-12 21:44:02

Horribly sad. I hope your post makes people think extra hard and agree you should send it to papers, other sites, wherever it will get a big audience.


MyCannyBairn Wed 17-Oct-12 21:44:37

I'm so sorry OP, what a shitty, shitty thing to have to do. I wish there was a special kind of prison for feckless puppy farmers, and those fecking idiots who spread shite about giving up cats when you get pregnant ( personal bugbear as a crazy cat lady and mum ). Wankers.

caniscantanymore Wed 17-Oct-12 21:48:41

Jux I think having a licence system may go some way to alleviate some of the problems. It would eliminate a number of potential bad outcomes because an awful lot of the time - most of the time, in fact - the problems arise out of complete ignorance. Anything put in the way of people who get dogs on a whim or without proper thought can only be a good thing.

I don't think it would help much at all with regard to dog fighting and some dangerous dogs issues. If someone's already wanted on warrants for assault, robbery, theft, supplying drugs etc, then they're unlikely to be bothered about getting themselves straightened out with a dog licence.

toomuchmonthatendofthemoney Wed 17-Oct-12 21:51:40

Such a sad and heartfelt post, OP, I am so sorry this has to be part of your job when you obviously care so deeply. Poor wee misunderstood pup.


Plomino Wed 17-Oct-12 21:54:19

How terribly terribly sad . We have greyhounds (says she sitting on the floor whilst the two of them are upside down on my sofas ) and I have heard of some shocking tales of neglect and abandonment of otherwise healthy dogs that have made me cry . One of mine lost nearly her whole ear , so as to get rid of the identifying tattoo when she was abandoned .

And it's happening with horses too . All our local rescue sanctuaries are full to the rafters , and yet people continue to breed foals. At the bottom end of the market , you can't give horses away . Not that long ago, we had a case where about 30 horses were just abandoned on the side of our local river , which the RSPCA ended up seizing . Just this week I have been offered a beautiful warmblood gelding , for NOTHING . Just because I can guarantee him a good home for life . All because someone bought him on a whim , and fortunately is a very decent man who has realised he has made a mistake .

You have my utter respect, because I just couldn't do what you do .

brrbrrwinteriscoming Wed 17-Oct-12 21:54:23

OP i am so sorry you had to do this. it is one thing i couldnt not do, and so put me off being a vet. It is terrible, i have two rescue dogs and would not buy a puppy/dog only ever rescue one.

Thank god for someone as compassionate and sweet as you and that the lovely dog had someone who obviously cared enoumously as it ended its very short life

LadyWidmerpool Wed 17-Oct-12 21:55:31

You poor thing. I'm sure your post will make some people stop and think. Thank you for sharing this.

caniscantanymore Wed 17-Oct-12 21:57:36

brrbrr "the lovely dog had someone who obviously cared enoumously as it ended its very short life"

I understand your sentiment but most of these dogs have owners who care deeply. This one did. He just didn't have an owner who had the time, the knowledge or the competence to provide for the dog adequately. Caring isn't enough. Anyone can care. It isn't what dogs need.

Blackballoon Wed 17-Oct-12 22:02:52

Another vet nurse here and it is a situation I have been involved in many times. Sadly there are not enough homes for all these dogs and being stuck in a rescue centre for months on end is no life. At the end of the day there are no welfare issues in putting an animal to sleep so this is the best option for a lot of dogs. Until people change their attitudes to dog ownership then this situation is not going to go away and it breaks my heart.

tazzle22 Wed 17-Oct-12 22:03:11

such a sad post canis.......... you are at the extreme sharp end of the situation in actually doing the deed and I can totally understand the frustration.

Whilst I understand the reference to fashionable cross breeds ( and its probably the current main contribution to the issue) I think that its not just them. The pedigree world goes in such fashions too and people get a certain breed just because they "like the look of them" .... like the current boom in the husky / malamute breeds ( or the bengal in cats). People take on breeds without being fully aware of the mental and physical needs of the dog sad

I try not to look too into depth / specifics these days as it does upset me so much ..... not just at the irresponsible owners but the "breeders" that dump clapped out brood bitches or pups to old to be "cute" knowing full well that rescues organisations will take them in GGGRRRRRRR thereby avoiding their responsibilities. ( although mainly involved in equine rescue we did get dogs and other animals as well)

Transatlantic......... I wonder where all these wondeful magical homes will come from so that no healthy dog ever needs to be uthenised ....... the resuces are all overflowing as it is and there are far more dogs out there than places for them. One of the dogs near my feet now had three failed homes since her entry into a rescue because of her complex needs and I was her "last chance" really as not only was she nervous aggressive she was self harming so mentally and physically needing a lot of suport. If the dog in this story had specific needs ( and certainly was not a simple, quiet family pet by the sounds of it) then rehoming it might not have been as easy as many others . It certainly did not sound impossible but with only a few hours and no local rescue place available then what on earth could canis do ??? She does not bear the responsibility for retraining / rehoming the dog.... the owners do !

The sad thing is that the more all those who rescue / foster take in the less responsibility some people will take ......... perhaps the family watching the dog described in the OP being pts will, because of seeing this reality, will think far more about dog ownership in the future..... and even tell other people about it and spread that message !!!!!!!!

RandomMess Wed 17-Oct-12 22:09:42


I would like more people to send a friend's foster dog. He was used as stud for years by puppy farmers.

He has lived for a year with a very experienced professional dog trainer, so far he has learnt his name - that's about it, he has little personality, he will play for a max of 20 minutes per day with the puppy they now have. Even now he has no life, I hope his previous owners don't get him back (they are being prosecuted) I hope they find a new owner that wants a calm quiet companion dog sad I think he's barked once or twice!!!

Paying for pedigree puppies is the cause of these things, why do people buy dogs when there are so many needing homes sad

SamuelWestsMistress Wed 17-Oct-12 22:10:18

What a horrible day for you. But, you have only done your job and it's a bloody tough job you do. You have no doubt saved the dog from a miserable and uncertain future. I could never have been a vet. Not for the sake of the animals, but for how utterly fucking STUPID people are! It makes me so angry.

Words can not describe how much I DETEST this ridiculous fashion for "designer dogs" and as you say thick, irresponsible and money grabbing idiots breeding two animals together and passing it on to the gullible public as something it's simply not.

It also angers me how many dickheads own dogs, and Staffies in particular which end up in homes. Every second dog in the dog homes seem to be status symbol dogs.

I really do think it's about time that dog licencing should be brought back to this country.

tazzle22 Wed 17-Oct-12 22:12:35

sadly canis I dont think the dog licence system will help really..... I am old enough to have paid a licence before they were abandoned here in UK. like always, the responsible owners paid for it the irresponsible did not. It is no guarantee of knowledge and skills ( and who would police any requirement to have attended classes or summat if it were a condition of a licence). The only time the licence meant anything was if the dog bit someone or the dog warden was involved or the dog strayed ..... and if it had no collar then owner could not be traced anyway.

You just need to look at the fiasco that its the equine passport system to see that dog licencing will not work !

fuzzpig Wed 17-Oct-12 22:14:28

No flaming from me. It isn't what you go in to your profession for, it is the opposite, and it is tragic. sad

I don't know about the ins and outs of it, but I think licences would be a good idea. Dogs (and pets in general) are all too easily seen as an accessory, a toy, a status symbol, and a disposable commodity. Nobody would call me an animal lover, but it sickens me, it really does.

My DSDs' little friend was killed by a dog last year, a badly kept dog whose owner should never be allowed an animal as long as he lives.

HappyTurquoise Wed 17-Oct-12 22:14:49

Anyone who could put a vet in such an abhorent situation truly disgusts me. It does make me wonder how many would do the same to vulnerable relatives if that were legal!

I can completely understand why you did it. The owners might have taken things into their own hands and caused unnecessary suffering, or let the dog out to be a dangerous, hazardous nuisance.

Thank you for being a vet. You are an unsung hero.

systemsaddict Wed 17-Oct-12 22:16:20

So sorry you have to do this, I have never really thought about vets having to be faced with this before sad.

I have to agree that under those circumstances, it is better for the dog to have simply gone to sleep happy and accompanied by people it trusted, rather than be uprooted again to live in a stressful kennel situation waiting for a suitable home which might never happen; you did the right thing for that animal and that family (who sound more naive than anything else).

I grew up with a series of big, bouncy, adorable, destructive and slightly bonkers dogs, from a working breed that took a lot of wearing out. They enriched our lives enormously but I also saw first-hand just how much work was involved, even living in the countryside with a big garden and a non-working adult in the house, so I can completely see how hard it must be when unscrupulous people are breeding and selling dogs that just aren't suitable as family pets for inexperienced people. What an impossible situation for all concerned. Thank you for your articulate and heartfelt post.

Flatbread Wed 17-Oct-12 22:19:17

Is there a vet code of conduct which guides when a dog/animal can be put down?

Do you take money for this?

Have you ever refused a request to kill an animal?

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