Wednesday, August 22, 2012


What has two thumbs and is a giant sucker? This girl!

I got my first surrendered dog last week.

Two weeks ago, I had a very sweet and cute 5 year old Great Dane mix who presented on emergency with hemorrhagic diarrhea and a really out of control (but likely totally treatable) skin condition that was cosmetically appalling (and very itchy). And her owner had no money to spend on diagnostics or treatment, so I made the best plan I could with her financial limitations and gave her a very good prognosis with the normal plan and a decent prognosis with the bare bones plan. I think it was 100% worth trying to treat her at home for a few days and see how she did; she was still eating and alert and I really think she may have done wonderfully and had another 5 years ahead of her. But her owner wanted to euthanize her. I tried to talk her out of it, and she played the trump card of, "If there's a chance this could be something that could infect my toddler, I can't take the risk of taking her home". And although that was pretty unlikely, since she wouldn't let me do ANY diagnostics, I couldn't PROVE that it wasn't. She also had lost an alarming amount of weight in the past 6 months without any dietary changes, which raised my suspicion of neoplasia, so after a lot of discussion with her and my concern that it was potentially unethical (and possibly legally indefensible) to send her home after the owner voiced concern about infecting her son with something (it could have been Salmonella, or Giardia, or some other zoonosis), with enormous reservations I agreed to euthanize her. I got the impression that the owner was not that emotionally invested in her and was ready to be done, and I was worried about her quality of life with the owner even if she recovered from the GI problem, especially given the (very preventable) skin issue that the owner had allowed to get ferociously out of control. She clearly was not a well-cared for dog.

But I do not feel good about the decision. I'm not sure what else I could have done; I couldn't force her to take the dog home. I felt that with the hemorrhagic diarrhea and the skin problems (and the sheer size of the dog) that it would be difficult to find an adopter quickly even if I could convince the owner to surrender her. I couldn't possibly take the dog home myself; with my psychotic little Bug I'm unfortunately never going to be able to bring another dog into the house. I couldn't afford to board the dog at work for the weeks to months it might take me to find a foster home or adopter. And the weight loss did worry me that something very serious might be going on.

Even with those considerations, though, I think about that dog at least a dozen times a day and feel terrible for euthanizing her. I feel like it was a convenience euthanasia, that the owner seized the opportunity when the diarrhea began to use that as an excuse to get rid of a dog she no longer wanted. And I feel terrible about that.

Anyway, it's done, and I can't undo it. So last Friday, I had another dog come in. This one is a tiny, cute little 7 year old chihuahua mix (who is very sweet and calm and not chihuahua-like at all) and had been in a fight with a stray dog. She had some lacerations that needed exploration and repair, and the owner declined the estimate and asked to euthanize. So I said hell no, I'm not euthanizing this dog (to myself, not the owner), and came back with a minimal plan (the lacerations really looked like they would need drains and surgical debridement and suturing, and the minimal plan was clip and clean, antibiotics, rabies booster, bandage, carprofen, hope for the best) and she refused THAT. She really wanted to euthanize. We discussed it for a long time and I couldn't persuade her, even when I pointed out that we could at least give her a CHANCE and see what happened, and she could always euthanize in a few days if the dog wasn't getting better, whereas if I euthanize her I can't take that back. From my perspective, there was no downside to trying conservative treatment before deciding to euthanize. But she wouldn't do it. So I made the euthanasia estimate as expensive as I possibly could (it ended up being more than the conservative treatment plan) and then offered her the alternative of surrenduring the dog to me, in which case the medical bills would become my responsibility and she wouldn't have to pay a dime. She jumped on the offer, and I now have a chihuahua!

Some of the staff were laughing at me a little, saying I'm a sucker. Which is totally true. Part of me suspects the owner played me. But she really would have euthanized this dog, and I was absolutely not going to do that again, not after the Great Dane two weeks ago. So, I may be a sucker, but at least I'm a sucker who can face myself in the mirror. :)

And my sister has a couple of friends who are interested in meeting the dog. And a cute, sweet, healthy little 12 pound dog is not that hard to find a home for. So all in all, whether I got played or not, I am extremely happy about this decision. :)


Old MD Girl said...

You're too funny.

Miss Boo is the reason we are a one dog household, as much as I would love to have another one. Ah terriers. Fortunately, she is completely great with the furless offspring. So we can go ahead and give her as many of THOSE kind of siblings as we want as far as she's concerned. Haha.

The Snowboarding (and Crossfitting) Veterinarian said...

Aw, I'm sorry about the Dane. I would have done the same thing under the circumstances, though.

andrea said...

YAY for you!! thanks for having a big heart :)