Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Accidental dog euthanasia, Illegal euthanasia at animal service, should humans be concerned?

Alex Schadenberg
Executive Director - Euthanasia Prevention Coalition

Everyday I receive euthansia news updates from a google alert. Usually there are stories about euthanasia of animals as part of the alert. Most of the animal euthanasia stories concern a change of rules for euthanasia or an announcement that an animal shelter is lessening or eliminating euthanasia.

Recently there have been several interesting stories about animal euthanasia that made me think. Could this also happen to humans?

The first story concerns a dog that was accidentally euthanized after staff at the Contra Costa Animal Services failed to follow protocols.

According to the article in the East Bay Times Barbie was accidentally euthanized based on a communication error. Animal Services Director Beth Ward stated:
...her agency had agreed to perform surgery on Barbie before transferring her. When a staff member went looking for Barbie to prep for surgery, it was discovered that the dog had been put down. 
Barbie was getting picked up to get a biopsy done on a mammary gland mass, when it was discovered she was mistakenly euthanized, said Melissa Farley Law, the dog adoption coordinator at Petaluma Pet Pals, which had found a foster family to care for Barbie. 
She still wants to know whether staff who made the mistakes are being held accountable.
Pietro D'Amico
In April 2013, Pietro D'Amico died at a Swiss assisted suicide clinic, after receiving a wrong diagnosis. An article published in Switzerland's english news service, The Local, stated:
... his family's lawyer Michele Roccisano told Italian newspaper Corriere della Sera. 
An autopsy carried out by the University of Basel’s Institute of Forensic Medicine found that D’Amico was not suffering from a life-threatening illness at the time of his death. 
Roccisano has called on the Italian and Swiss authorities to examine D’Amico’s medical records to determine what went wrong.
Did the D'Amico family ever find out what went wrong?

The next article concerned the resignation of the Louisville Metro Animal Services Director, Jessica Montgomery, who had illegally euthanized a dog. According to the Insider Louisville news Montgomery was not certified to do euthanasia.

A study published published in the NEJM in March 2015 on the experience with euthanasia in the Flanders region of Belgium indicates that approximately 1000 Belgian deaths were hastened without explicit request in 2013. A similar study that was published in the CMAJ in May 2010 found a nearly identical percentage of Belgian deaths that were hastened without explicit request in 2007.

The final article concerned grieving that many people experience after the euthanasia death of a pet. According to the Long Beach Post:
The loss of a pet is sometimes not appreciated by those who have had no similar experiences or can’t relate to a pet as a loved one. When a loss happens, there are steps to deal with the pain. The first thing to realize is that your feelings of grief and sadness are real.
Tom Mortier's depressed mother died by euthanasia in April 2012. Mortier was completely shocked and traumatized by her euthanasia death.

Society has long understood that there are abuses of euthanasia related to animals. Should humans not also be concerned?


Ak Rhodes said...

Fenigsen (1989) in The Hastings Centre Journal reports that at least one person was euthanized by mistake in Holland around the time his article was published. So mistakes about humans have happened.

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