I cannot even begin to count the number of times people have told me they decided not to be a vet because they couldn’t stand to put animals down. As someone who is graduating in a week and a half, I can guarantee that that is definitely one of the worst parts of the job. There isn’t a veterinarian out there who wants to put an animal to sleep. However, there is one thing that makes that experience worse in many cases, and that is when the owner doesn’t want to stay. As a vet, I promise to do everything I can to make a pet’s euthanasia as peaceful as I possibly can. I promise to sedate the animal beforehand, I promise to insert the needle into the vein as carefully as possible to administer the solution, I promise to do everything I can to make it peaceful.
The one thing that makes that situation harder for me emotionally is when that pet is staring at me nervously while a tech restrains it. That animal doesn’t know me, doesn’t know my tech, and is typically scared, and I don’t want their life to end like that. So if I can make one plea to an owner, it is to please stay. I know it is a heartbreaking experience. I know you may cry, shake, or even sob loudly. But here’s a secret. I would too, and I have before. I know it can feel awkward to be so emotional in front of strangers, but we have seen it before, and we would much rather you be there to hold your pet and then sob and cry as they pass than have your pet wondering where you are while leaving this world. We will give you all the tissues you need, we will help you quietly exit the hospital out a side door so you don’t have to walk through the lobby, and we will even hold you as you cry. So please, please stay.