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01/05/2004 Archived Entry: "Killing a dog"
I HAVE TO KILL A DOG THIS MORNING. A vet will administer the injection, but the decision will be mine. This is a hard one. The dog -- a foster, not one of my own -- is lying peacefully on a cushion near my bed, looking for all the world perfectly well-behaved and reasonably healthy. The thought that she'll soon bound enthusiastically into my truck on her way to die is almost too much.
The group I work with is no-kill. In the rescue field, that doesn't mean "absolutely never under any circumstances kill." It means never kill a healthy, adoptable animal, simply because there's no permanent home available. It means that if a sick or aged dog comes into our care, we treat it to the best of our ability, rather than writing it off. (And amazingly, many, many adoptors are happy to take in old or chronically ill animals.) But under two circumstances, we do euthanize: when an animal is too sick for us to treat or when one might be dangerous.
This dog doesn't fit neatly into any category. She's old, but hardly on her last legs. She has arthritis, but that's treatable. She has an obnoxious personality, but a few months of behavior-modification work might do wonders. She goes from docile to hostile unpredictably, but hasn't made any serious attempt to injure anybody. When she's content, she's very, very sweet, and when she doesn't get her way, she's horrid.
She's sweet right now and it's easy to forget that less than 12 hours ago, she tried to bite me. (It was a very half-hearted attempt at a bite, I have to say.) And when she's sweet, she has that look of utter trust that only a dog can have.
If we had a ton of money and a dog-behaviorist available, we'd save this one. But we don't. The cold reality: even if someone wanted her (which no one does), she's too risky to adopt out. So hard, so hard ...
This post generated a new discussion thread on The Clairefiles forums, some of it critical of my choice and some viewing animal rescue from a very different perspective. If you're interested, look in.
Posted by Claire @ 09:42 AM CST