Vets have begged owners to stop making a simple mistake with their pets in their precious, last moments.
“The hardest thing to do as a veterinarian is putting a dog or cat down,” Dr Robert Zammit, a vet at the Vineyard Veterinary Hospital in Sydney’s north west, told Yahoo7.
“They trust you, they look in your eyes while you hold their leg and you put the needle in and you draw back.
“They trust you while you’re actually taking their life, it’s really hard.
“It’s the hardest thing you’ve got to do as a vet and it takes a bit of us out.”
Vets say it is a mistake not to be there with your pet when they are put to sleep.
US-based Twitter user Jessi Dietrich recently sparked debate online with an emotional post.
“The animal’s last moments are usually them frantically looking around for their owners & that broke me,” she said.
Dr Zammit says that this searching behaviour is due to a heartbreaking mistake. Pets may desperately look for their owners, if they are not tranquilised before being put down.
“Once they’re tranquilised, they’re not going to be looking around, they’re not so worried about the owner leaving,” he said.
Sedating pets before euthanasia is essential to ensuring a peaceful end of life, says Dr Zammit. He said that it is “common sense” to tranquilise pets before ending their life, so that they can drift towards sleep first.
Dr Zammit says that most owners want to be with their pets in their final moments.
“Everyone deals with grief of losing their dog in their own way,” he said.
“I find the majority want to be with their pet [during the euthanasia procedure].
“Some of them say, I really don’t want to be here, but I’m not going to leave him. This is when he needs me now.”
However, Dr Zammit says that owners should at least stay as their pets are tranquilised prior to being put down.
“I don’t force people to stay there, I don’t put pressure on them to stay there,” he said.
“If they find that they just can’t be there, they can’t do it, I understand that, because it’s distressing to them.
“All I ask them to do is to sit quietly with the cat or the dog, we give them a tranquiliser, just an injection, like a vaccination in the muscle, let that work and then the people can leave.
Veterinarians suffer heartbreak and stress, as a side effect of performing pet euthanasia.
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“My profession, unfortunately, has a very high rate of suicide, and a big part of it is the pressure we feel,” Dr Zammit said.
“Who gives us the right to put dogs down?”
“You can tell me it’s stopping the suffering, and it’s so kind and all those things, but it doesn’t make it easy for us as vets.”