Home > Animal Hospice > A family’s review: In-home Euthanasia for their Dog

A family’s review: In-home Euthanasia for their Dog

A real review of a euthanasia at home.  The focus is on the experience and interaction with the veterinary clinic and staff.

Legend: (=) neutral experience, (-) negative experience, (+) positive experience

  • (=) Dr. and staff were late to leave hospital.  Could have been a positive if communicated.  Since the family was treasuring every second, they started to worry when they were not there or communicating there adjusted arrival – this intereupted their time with the dog.  The  family appreciated the extra time.
  • (=) The Dr got lost on the way.  Again,  no problem as the family appreciated extra time.  Directions were clarified when they called for them.  The lack of communication and the blaming for the directions on the phone were the only reason this was not seen as a blessing.
  • (-) Overall, the family made comments after the fact to other areas and past experiences with the clinic.  The team not communicating regularly enough regarding status, leaving family on pins and needles anticipating their arrival.  As a result the family questioned past experiences with the clinic and their future use of the clinic.
  • (-) The Dr and staff member pulled up in a mercedes sedan – no possibility of transporting the 80# dog back to the clinic for the requested private cremation, no communication or arrangements made with the family for them to handle dead body transportation.
  • (-) On their eventual arrival, the Dr got out of the car loudly complaining about how whoever gave the directions was wrong and telling us what they should have been.  This was communicated to a liasion that met the team at the driveway and after subdueing them, led them to the family expresssing their desire to be calm and quiet and peaceful around the dog.
  • (-) On the short walk to the family and dog, the Dr again complained to 2 others regarding the directions, again loudly as nearing the dying dog and his grieving family.
  • (-) When the Dr and staff member joined the dog and family they proceeded with small chat and self focused conversation, disrupting the tone and dishonoring the moment the family had carefully created for themselves.
  • (=) The Dr explained the process of the euthanasia and approximately what to expect.  Explanation was sufficient at best.  Having had a better explanation previously from a third party they did not feel unaware.
  • (-) During the short process, the staff member had to go back to the car for additional supplies.  The family considered something might be going wrong or unexpected in the process, raising concern for the comfort of the dog.
  • (-) The Dr and staff member left.  They left before discussing or helping with the logistics of moving the dog from the yard where he was euthanized to a vehicle for transportation for cremation as arranged with the clinic.
  • (-) The Dr left before verifying their clinic would be open after hours for cremation drop off.  The family had to make an additional call to the clinic in this raw moment to make sure they could take the dog after being left with him.  Since the clinic did not answer the first call, they called another clinic to see if they would be open and available to help with their dog.  This disrupted the beauty and peace of the moment after the euthanasia.
  • (-) When arriving at the clinic with thee dog, no one was ready or available to help. The family had called in advance and were expected.  The car had to moved 3 times to accomodate the clinics request for getting the dog inside and the family members had to  carry his limp body.
  • (-) The assistant asked the family member if they could put the dog in a garbage bag before removing from the car.  This process surprised the family member and while he acted strong said “sure,”  it was clear he would rather not have known this logistical piece.
  • (-)When confirming we’d like a paw print, the staff member sounded surprised.  The receptionist had confirmed that paw prints were standard when making the initial inquiry for the euthanasia house call and cremation arrangements.  The family member almost took back the request to be accomodating, but couldn’t part with the memorial.

Overall score: 2 neutral,  12 negative and 0 positive

Have you had an experience that should have or could have been almost a nice way to say goodbye that was tainted?  Share in the comments your story – how can we improve the experience?

  1. Jan
    July 15, 2012 at 4:32 pm

    This just makes me so sad. Could you have someone paste this on the wall at this vet’s office? I’m sure you don’t want to read the words going through my mind right now. The next time I’m at my vet, I’m going to take this in for them to read. Thank you.

  2. July 15, 2012 at 9:05 pm

    That is disgraceful, Robyn! I hope you never use them again. We carefully “vet” the vets we recommend for home euthanasia to be sure they are kind, compassionate and (what seems so lacking here) respectful.

    As I always say, there is simply no room for mediocrity in end of life care – if you are doing this work, you sure as heck better be patient and family-focused and be or at least strive to be) outstanding at what you do (as I know YOU are!).

    Hope to see you at the Symposium later this week!

    – Heather Merrill, C.T.
    Certified in Thanatology
    Founder and Director
    New England Pet Hospice, Inc.

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