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Coping with Euthanizing a Pet: How Vet Techs Do It

July 14, 2014 Veterinary Technology, General 0 Comments

Career choices don't happen overnight (or at least they shouldn't), but there isn't just one way to develop an interest. Some careers warrant a higher knowledge of the culture before committing, and this is especially important before committing to the emotional practices involved in disciplines such as veterinary technician. One important aspect of this job is coping with euthanizing a pet, and learning to talk to owners about the situation. But it is among the most valuable skills you'll learn. Here's why it is so important.

Sanford Brown Coping with Euthanizing a Pet: How Vet Techs Do ItCases Requiring Euthanasia

According to the Humane Society of the United States, 2.7 million adoptable dogs and cats were put down in 2012 – not counting the millions of others that pass away under unfortunate circumstances. Most animals are euthanized because of:

  • an injury or illness beyond the ability to recover.
  • aging that has led to lower quality of life.
  • abandonment.
  • having untreatable behavioral problems.

The Right Choice

Euthanizing animals is not an easy task; simply calming them – and their owners – can be difficult. Medical professionals, however, have spent years mastering the abilities that can be intimidating before beginning your studies. To get an idea of euthanasia at the professional level, read the American Veterinary Medical Association's euthanasia guidelines. You may find them to be right in line with the values you embrace.

Professional Mercy

The best way to perceive pet euthanasia is to realize that you're providing relief, not taking a pet. Suffering animals need people who can be strong when others can't. With the right training, you can learn to be this kind of person.

Euthanasia becomes a near daily event in the career of most vet techs, but it is never routine. Every animal and every owner reacts differently, and a critical skill is identifying these reactions and adapting to them. While the practice can be a traumatic experience for pet owners, your professionalism is greatly appreciated. That doesn't mean being inhuman though; vet techs learn how to express their own grief to comfort their clients.

To deal with the emotional burden, they:

  • take some time off after a procedure, sometimes the whole day if needed.
  • share their feelings with fellow staff.
  • obtain grief counseling.
  • remind themselves of the importance of helping others through the event.
  • attend training sessions on coping with euthanizing a pet.

If you're exposed to end-of-life care for pets, and believe you can overcome your initial trepidation, working as a vet tech may be a rewarding field. You can even specialize further by becoming an "euthanasia technician." In this relatively new profession, experts typically work in shelters and research facilities, where all kinds of animals are given the relief from the pain they suffer from every day.

Photo source: Wikimedia Commons

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