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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

JillJ72 Sat 11-Jan-14 08:59:09

You did your job, you did the right (but so horribly wrong) thing after exhausting the options, and I feel for you.

Those comments you mention from FB, not supporting you - shame on them. I get you. Pet ownership is a serious responsibility, not a whim or an overnight decision. It should be researched, considered carefully, given time to mull, and then finally make the decision with a good understanding of the responsibilities of being a pet owner. And that youngling pets do grow up.

We had a dog when I was younger, budgies and cats. In my household now we have a cat (he is insured), and chickens - I spent 6 months researching this decision.

Seriously, if the reader doesn't get the OP's post, I can only conclude they may be a contributory party to the heartbreaking work the OP has to do.

caniscantanymore Sat 11-Jan-14 00:15:24

Just wanted to say that I'm aware this is active again. If it helps one person to open their eyes and think more carefully before embarking on dog ownership then I will be delighted. It's on Facebook, complete with lots of accusations that I shouldn't have PTS on the basis of growling alone (I didn't)/I should have taken him home (with my children and pets and job and life that's just not possible)/I should have just "found a home" (loads of them available for a dog like that ... not)/I should have driven it to a Dogs Trust (they never put healthy dogs to sleep but in order to do this they turn away the unrehomeables, plus they're miles and miles away, plus I was at work)/I should have a relationship with a local rescue (I do, they were full) etc. Needless to say, there was plenty more to this situation that led me to come to the conclusion that it was my only option, but I am bound by a duty of confidentiality and so am not going to give details.

I still think about him a lot. He got under my skin. Hopefully one day things like this won't have to happen.

CouthyMow Sat 11-Jan-14 00:07:39

I would love a dog. It's been 3 years since my last dog died, and Ii am mentally ready. But there is no way, given my inability to walk a dog due to my physical issues, that I would be getting one. I make do with snuggles from my (responsible) friend's doggies. (Who are fully insured).

caniscantanymore Fri 10-Jan-14 23:59:53


AwfulMaureen Fri 10-Jan-14 21:21:57

Anyone who wants a dog should be made to work with the buggers for at least a week or to live with one. We've had a friend;s dog to care for and its made me realise that I never want one. I'm not dedicated enough...I LOVE them too. I just can't commit the time, energy or patience they need. They are SO needy!

MissBetseyTrotwood Fri 10-Jan-14 21:12:00

So sad, you poor thing.

There are so many Xmas puppies round our way at the moment. Tiny, already off the lead, owners with sod all control or care for what might happen as a result.

I do wonder how many will be running in the same park this time next year, when they've chewed too many expensive trainers or don't match the new sofa or have jumped up too many times. sad

Loopylala7 Fri 10-Jan-14 20:44:13

sad soo sad

MissFenella Fri 10-Jan-14 19:50:41

this post is doing the rounds on facebook too

UriGeller Fri 10-Jan-14 16:38:53

Yeah but Sherlustholmes bumped it intentionally. Imagine how many dogs the OP has had to put to sleep since she wrote the post. shock

Sunflower49 Thu 09-Jan-14 02:56:09

Sorry just noticed zombie thread!

Sunflower49 Thu 09-Jan-14 02:52:39

This post is the reason I never followed my childhood dream of being a vet. I am so , so sorry sad
If you need someone to talk to, feel free to pm me xx

Joysmum Thu 09-Jan-14 02:47:17

I actually don't think you're focussing on the right cause if the problem.

The cause if the problem is the indiscriminate breeding of animals and owners failing to have their animals neutered.

It angers me beyond belief that any old tom dick or Harry can decide to have their pet mated because they want it to have cute babies. There are far too many animals for the finite number of homes available.

I wish there was a way to license any one wanting the breed animals and massive fines for anyone who breeds animals without being licensed.

I only have rescue cats. I will not go to a breeder when there are so many animals who need a good home.

I also have ponies. In the New Forest there are foals going for peanuts at the sales, if indeed they sell at all. It disgusts me that with so many perfectly healthy animals who can't find homes, why are people adding to the problem just because they wants babies or to try and make a few quid selling them on. You people make me sick angry

superstarheartbreaker Thu 09-Jan-14 02:31:55

Why iscrehoming a bad thing???? If vetted properly it can be for the best. Some owners suit certain breeds better than others.

superstarheartbreaker Thu 09-Jan-14 02:29:28

I do wish people would think before they buy animals. I dont think that rehoming is bad though; totally necessary if circumstances change.

jaabaar Thu 09-Jan-14 02:20:29

Omg, so sad.

Iwannalaylikethisforever Wed 08-Jan-14 22:22:28

I cannot believe this made me cry, I want to hug you, what a horrendous experience ...
Ps I dont like dogs much having been bitten twice.
Once was very frightening.

70isaLimitNotaTarget Wed 08-Jan-14 22:10:14

One of the saddest things (IMO) is there are two ends of the spectrum.
You'll get the people who keep an animal going, with surgery, with medication , long past the time when it's life is happy or even tolerable, because they , the owner cannot bear for it to go.
They are thinking about how they will feel, not this poor creature who has yet another day to get through.

Then the ones who are quick to get rid. To fob off their responsibilty, either to whoever will take the animal , or to a vet who will put it to sleep.
What a lovely phrase.
In my day, an animal was "destroyed". I think in some cases, destroyed is nearer the mark.

The day the OP stops caring about the animals she tends is the day to stop.

tiredoutgran Wed 08-Jan-14 17:26:20

Horrible for you BUT there are far worse things than death! I would never rehome one of my animals if I couldn't keep them for whatever reason. This is not because I believe nobody could care for them as well as I can but because I could never guarantee their future and would not take the risk of them coming to harm. It happens so often where animals are passed around from one home to another, each home progressively worse than the last despite the promises. I would prefer that mine were PTS whilst happy in my care and I wouldn't have to worry if that 'perfect' home turned out to be not so perfect/secure after all.

My daughter has a dog that came to her at a year old, she is his 5th home in that time, he has major problems, the children are not allowed near him at any time. I believe that he should be PTS following him biting her nastily in frustration after she stopped him attacking a passing dog, she has managed him really well to that point but it is getting too difficult to keep herself safe and has gone beyond being reasonable and giving him a chance.

It would take a lot for me to part with mine as they are all homed for life but if the circumstances arose I would be hoping my vet would support me rather than judge me for my decision. I don't mean that against you as I understand your feelings but if that family had rehomed the dog and it killed or maimed a child it would be terrible.

UriGeller Wed 08-Jan-14 17:19:24

Im very appreciative of the work you do OP.

I'd rather not see so many dogs about. Funny looking dogs which labor to breathe, dogs with genetic weight bearing problems. Dogs whose characteristics are bred to suit fashion rather than ability, those with inherited behavioural problems and poor mental health.

I'm not a dog person at all. In fact, I would prefer it if there were far fewer of them in the world, but each one in the hands of someone who truly loved it, disciplined it, understood it and cared for it properly.

What is to be done about this?

Heartbrokenmum73 Wed 08-Jan-14 17:11:01

SecretJewel - you sound like a real people person, so very compassionate and caring hmm

QuietTiger Wed 08-Jan-14 17:04:36

I've shared this across FB, because it is so relevant. As a collie owner, the number of people I see getting collies because "they train themselves" is scary. At 5 months, when they are becoming herdy, busy, nipping the kids because the people getting them didn't bother to research the breed, they end upon the scrap heap. As do the staffies, huskies, and all the other fashionable breeds.

I have a crossbreed mutt too. She is very, very cute and a total accident. She's small and quirky and I've lost count of the number of people asking me what she is and "where can they get one?" as a designer dog. I feel your pain OP, even if this is a zombie thread.

SecretJewel Wed 08-Jan-14 17:02:53

Sobbing your heart out? Jeez, man. It's a dog. It had no idea what you were going to do to it, and it's got even less of an idea what you did now.

Sandancer Wed 08-Jan-14 16:23:44

I've shared this on some of those facebook pet selling pages which I browse with my mouth wide open. People are selling cross Beagles and cross Pugs with silly names for over £1000 while Huskies and other high energy type breeds are selling for £50! Madness!
I doubt anyone will take much notice...

Halloweenjunkie Wed 08-Jan-14 15:23:44

I'm more of a cat person myself, but I'm sitting here crying after reading your post. No flaming from me at all. We live in a materialistic society where people have to have the 'right breed of dog' to fit in (or so they think they fit it) - be it a staffy or one of the 'designer dogs' that cost thousands. What people forget is that each breed of dog comes with it's own temperament and more importantly each of these dogs is a life, not a designer statement. So sad, but I have no idea what the solution is other than to restrict breeding/selling of puppies and/or to bring in dog licenses to ensure that people are able to care for dogs properly - which most people would view as too 'controlling and being in a nanny state.

D0oinMeCleanin Wed 08-Jan-14 14:28:23

Yes it's a very old thread, but it is still very relevant. Nothing at all has changed and OP, if she is still working in the same profession will have had to make that same, awful choice again and again since this thread.

Reading it back, I can see we had who is still known as puppy with us at the time, he has happily been in his forever home for about 18 months now and is doing very well, but still steals the occasional shoe grin. Since then we've had a few retired or failed greyhounds and two more puppies whose owners just did not think hard enough before taking on an active young puppy. Both have now been rehomed. The first one was over a year old and had never been walked outside on a lead because they couldn't manage her hmm They loved her though confused

The pattern will keep repeating until something changes.

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