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Companion Care Vets Hamster Euthanasia

(6 Posts)
bellaboo13 Wed 03-Aug-16 18:13:39

It is always a difficult process when it comes to having to make the decision to have a pet euthanised, and that process can very much be influenced by how it is approached by the vet. This is about my experience with my elderly hamster. Companion Care have a policy when it comes to euthanasia that stipulates they will put your pet through a full examination and charge you a consultation fee, regardless of how ill, how old, or what species your pet is.

From past experience a veterinary practice has given me the opportunity to contact them in advance and state I have an elderly hamster who has reached their life capacity, they have treated my hamster and myself with compassion and allow them to be euthanised peacefully and without any further distress - this is not the case with Companion Care. On this day the vet saw fit to put my hamster through a full examination, whereby she was separated from myself - even though I asked to be with her - and proceeded to do a full physical examination. Adhering to their policy was a futile exercise, however, for the conclusion was as that practiced by other veterinary surgeries - that indeed, nothing could be done. I would assume the vet's experience told her this as soon as she saw my hamster, it did not need over ten minutes of her going through a full examination to ascertain this. Please do not misconstrue what I am saying, I fully appreciate that a pet having a consultation is of paramount importance “under certain circumstances”, but there needs to be a logical approach to this, when a vet knows before an examination that she cannot do anything for your hamster, whatever the circumstance may be, then to take a blanket approach is wrong. This will only be addressed if more people refuse to find this acceptable, with one person they tell you to go elsewhere, but when more come forward they start to listen ...

You may believe that Companion Care charging £50 is totally acceptable, and it would have been if the vet believed an examination could save her. They stated to me that I was paying for the expertise and years of training involved, which I understand and fully appreciate, but in the same stance that training should have provided my hamster with a less traumatic way to leave this world, which she was not granted. I have to say it is and it isn't about the money. Vets will often use a guardian’s love for their pet to charge whatever they like, based on the fact that if you are a responsible guardian you will pay whatever they choose to charge you. I will only say regardless of whether you agree with me or not, check the policies of the veterinary practice you provide for your pet. Money does not equate love, you are not being cheap by wanting a fair price. When you know the best thing - yet the most heart-breaking thing you can do is to let your animal friend go peacefully, don't allow them to go through any more distress than they need to in the name of "policies".

According to the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, Companion Care Ltd are not an RCVS Accredited Practice or a Small Animal General Practice. I wish I had known this, I want people to be aware of what can happen, I am not saying the vets are not experienced, I thought they were very nice, the receptionist was very compassionate, but I do feel they are typical of being part of a corporate chain who need to look more closely at what is the most humane path to follow rather than sticking rigidly to their policies.

PocketWatch Mon 08-Aug-16 12:04:53

Thank you for this. We use companion care so it's definitely something for us to look into. It does sound like not a lot of common sense was used when dealing with your little hamster. Sorry you had to go through this flowers

bombayflambe Mon 08-Aug-16 12:14:57

To paraphrase:
It is their policy that they don't euthanize and animals until a qualified vet has done an examination. You took your sick hamster to be put down and they insisted on examining it before putting it to sleep and you feel that this examination away from you was detrimental to the last moments of your hamster's life. You object to a veterinary examination costing £50.
Vets will often use a guardian’s love for their pet to charge whatever they like, based on the fact that if you are a responsible guardian you will pay whatever they choose to charge you. This is a hell of an accusation!

I'm sorry you lost your pet but you really can't expect a vet to put an animal down on the say-so of the owner without examining it.

PocketWatch Mon 08-Aug-16 12:32:44

bombay, what I understood from the op was that the hamster was elderly and very obviously on his last legs. In that case I don't think a ten min examination away from its owner is necessary? I had a hamster put to sleep a few years ago (not at companion although we're currently using them for our rabbits) and he wasn't taken away from us or examined for very long. It was obvious to the vet straight away that he was very poorly and also, given his age..

bombayflambe Mon 08-Aug-16 14:01:40

What I understood from the OP was a distraught pet owner accusing a veterinarian of causing distress to an animal to make money out of her.

If the vet needs to check the condition of the animal before euthanasia then the issue is whether or not this should be done in the presence of the owner. Given that the hamster was already outside it's home environment would allowing the owner to be in the room during the examination actually made a difference to the hamster?

A hamster deficient in vitamin E presents with muscle paralysis, lameness, underactivity and dull eyes. To the layman this can appear as moribundity. A shot of vitamin E can reverse these symptoms within 15 minutes.

It would be contrary to all ethical standards if this vet practice chose to treat all requests for euthanasia as if the owner were qualified to make that request. In this case it appears that the vet surgery has put in place a blanket requirement for veterinary confirmation before euthanasia of any animal.

The OP wanted to be there for the examination. This is the only thing from the OP that seems a realistic complaint, and would not have affected the overall outcome or comfort of the hamster.

bellaboo13 Mon 08-Aug-16 19:16:04

Bombay, it wasn't so much an accusation but more a fact. Vets do charge whatever they like, there are no regulations to what they can charge. I say this not only from my experiences over the last 30 years, but because this is indeed a fact. To euthanise a hamster I have paid £17 and anything in the £20 range. All have been checked over by a vet first - no vet should euthanise an animal because someone says they should, I totally agree.

In Bella's case she was very old, if there had been the remotest option to save her money would not have been an issue. But because Companion Care have the policy to do a full examination - which the vet said herself made no difference to Bella being saved (mainly because of her age), then please forgive me for failing to understand why she needed to go through this .., and I'm sorry, to spend over 10 minutes putting my hamster through this purely to follow their own policies is not acceptable, however short in time you perceive this to be.

I don't know if my presence would have helped Bella, but I would hope that people would prefer to have this choice if at all possible. There was no reason why I should not have been there, no specialist equipment was used, no drugs, I should have been with her, end of.

I appreciate your points but you have misconstrued what I was saying, I believe Companion Care should work on a case by case basis, if Bella stood the remotish chance of being saved then a full examination would have been totally necessary, but they knew she couldn't be saved but followed their policies anyway, logically I can't agree with this. Whatever their motivation may be, this needs to be addressed.

Thank you Pocketwatch for your comments, much appreciated.

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