CHAPTER 10: EUTHANASIA

General  

 

  • Each individual animal must be treated with respect. 

  • Any euthanasia method used must result in rapid loss of consciousness followed by cardiac and respiratory arrest and loss of brain function and should occur without pain with minimal distress, anxiety, or apprehension. 

  • Euthanasia method must be reliable, irreversible, and compatible with the species, age, and health status of the animal. 

  • The identity of each animal to be euthanized must be determined with certainty beforehand. 

  • When pharmaceutical methods are used, an assessment must be made of each animal’s size, weight, and temperament so the appropriate drug dose, needle, syringe, and restraint method can be used. 

  • Safety of the personnel and the emotional impact of euthanasia must be considered. Whenever possible, euthanasia must be performed by a veterinarian. 

  • If euthanasia by firearms must be done, it must be done humanely, in accordance with the guidelines outlined by the CVMA in the “Guidelines for euthanasia of domestic animals by firearms.” 

 

UNACCEPTABLE 

 

  • Agents and/or methods unacceptable to the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia. 

 

Euthanasia Technique 

 

  • Chemical agents and/or methods (including physical) deemed acceptable by the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia must be used and are carried out by trained and competent personnel or a veterinarian. 

  • To avoid causing any undue stress and anxiety, the least amount of physical restraint necessary to perform the procedures safely must be used; consider sedation whenever possible. 

  • Death must be verified by multiple methods by trained caregivers before disposing of any animal’s body; the body disposal must be done in a manner that adheres to biosafety protocols and prevents scavenging, especially when chemical agents are used.  

  • Because lack of a palpable pulse does not confirm that the heart has stopped, cardiac standstill must be confirmed with a stethoscope or visual verification, or a secondary method of euthanasia is used. 

 

UNACCEPTABLE

 

  • Intra-cardiac injections unless it has been verified that the animal is unconscious, comatose, or anesthetized (i.e., lack of deep pain/toe withdrawal reflex). Agents that induce convulsions, paralysis, or respiratory arrest prior to loss of consciousness 

 

Environment and Equipment 

 

  • The environment must be quiet and away from the main pattern of foot traffic to minimize distractions and interruptions.

  • Personnel, public, and nearby animal safety must be considered.

  • Animals should not be permitted to observe or hear euthanasia of another animal, nor permitted to view the bodies of dead animals. 

 

Record-Keeping and Controlled Substances 

 

  • A record log must be kept documenting each animal’s identification.    

  • Federal, provincial, and local regulations must be followed for securing controlled drugs and keeping drug records.

 

Caregiver Training 

 

  • Proper and ongoing training must be provided to all caregivers participating in euthanasia. 

  • Euthanasia training in specific techniques must include the ability to access alternative injection sites, handle various species, assess behaviour and temperament for proper animal handling, and verify death by multiple methods.

  • Physical methods of euthanasia (e.g., gunshot, captive bolt) must only be performed by highly skilled personnel. 

  • The euthanasia technician and the assisting caregivers must be proficient in animal handling and restraint.  

Disposal of Remains

  • Local or provincial laws may determine requirements for acceptable disposition of the remains of deceased animals. 

    • Talk with a veterinarian or local animal shelters to discuss options for cremation. 

    • If laws permit, a deceased dog may be buried away from water sources, deep enough and with appropriate soil cover to minimize risk of remains being scavenged and the environment contaminated. 

    • If animal remains cannot be properly disposed of immediately, an appropriate storage facility such as a secured freezer onsite can prevent carcass spoilage and scavenging.
       

Resources 

 

A Code of Practice for Canadian Kennel Operations

https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/documents/Code-of-Practice-for-Canadian-Kennel-Operations

 

American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia, 2020.

avma.org/resources.pdf

 

Longair J. (Al) Guidelines for euthanasia of domestic animals by firearms. Canadian Veterinary Journal 1991;32:724-726.

ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1481111/pdf/canvetj00073-0022.pdf


Fakkema D. Euthanasia by Injection Training Guide, Engleweood, CO: American Humane Association, 2009.
Rhodes R. Euthanasia Training Manual. Washington, DC. Humane Society Press, 2002.


Smith-Blackmore M. Euthanasia. In Miller L., Zawistowski S (eds). Shelter Medicine for Veterinarians and Staff. Second edition, Ames, IA: Wiley-Blackwell, 2013.
 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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