Performing euthanasia is the most stressful aspect of being an animal shelter employee. I witnessed a couple of work burnouts as a result of euthanizing animals that I had become fond of. The problem is greatest for smaller operations.
When I started out in this profession, I handled every aspect of an animal’s cycle through my shelter:
- I was the Animal Control Officer, responsible for responding to complaints and impounding animals in the field.
- I was the Animal Attendant, responsible for the daily care of the animals.
- I was the Vet Tech, responsible for maintaining the daily health of the animals.
- I was the Shelter Manager, responsible for deciding which animals needed to by euthanized due to shelter overcrowding.
- I was the Euthanasia Tech, responsible for the euthanizing and disposal of the animals.
Although euthanasia, at any level, is stressful, compartmentalizing each aspect can reduce the stress that is experienced by any one individual. The greatest stress reliever is to insure that the euthanasia process is handled well; by competent, caring staff. By relieving stress on the animal, helps relieve stress on those performing the task.
The last moments of an animal’s life should be performed with the greatest compassion.