Would you be willing to overrule your spouse? (Animal euthanasia, poss. vet. TMI)

We’ve had a streak of cases this week where the animal is clearly, even to one of the owners, suffering, and the spouse flatly refuses to put the animal down. Some of these cases are horrifying, really; we had one couple sit there and watch their dog shit and vomit blood for hours, groaning in pain despite being on high doses of narcotics, too weak to even roll up on his chest without assistance, and despite the fact there was nothing more for us to do, the husband still refused to put the poor guy to sleep. (He wanted to take the dog home to die, which the wife begged us to talk him out of.) Hell, he refused to even sign a DNR form, so when the dog arrested after almost 16 hours of pure hell, we had to code him. One of the techs who was there at the time said when they intubated him, blood shot out of the tube and halfway across the ICU. The wife could have signed the euthanasia form, or the DNR form, as she was present and is also considered the legal owner, but she chose not to.

Last night, we had a case where the wife was insistent on taking the dog home to die (she had a packed cell volume of 9%, which means she had essentially no capacity to carry oxygen to her tissues and was going to suffocate if they didn’t euthanize or transfuse.) She wasn’t going to euthanize the poor dog, no way, no how, not a snowball’s chance in hell. The husband was at first willing to go along with that, even after he asked me if the dog was going to suffocate and I said yes, the air would come in and out her lungs just fine, but she wouldn’t be getting any oxygen because the stuff that absorbs and carries the oxygen to the tissues just wasn’t there any longer. Then, when we presented him with the AMA form, he finally asked, “Well if she’s suffocating now, and she’s going to continue to suffocate, why are we doing this?” He signed the euthanasia form, and let his wife decide what kind of aftercare she wanted.

So I wonder, would most people be willing to overrule their spouses in such a matter? Would it matter if it were “their” pet? Would it make any difference if you felt you could no longer afford to continue treatment, as opposed to just thinking it was time to give up?

Personally, I like to think that all major decisions would be made jointly, and that we’re both able to be objective enough about the medical realities of the situation that we’d agree on whether or not to euthanize. If we didn’t, though, and one of our pets was suffering, I’d sign that authorization in a heartbeat no matter what he said. Even on Maggie, who was always his cat, both in terms of legal ownership and emotional attachment. He’s not putting any of them through that, not while there is breath in my body, no matter how painful it is for him to let go. I honestly believe that he’d do the same if I were the one refusing to euthanize.

Suffering animal? I’d do the right thing, and fix things up with my relationship later. I wouldn’t be in a relationship with someone so selfish that such a thing would never be gotten over.

I guess this isn’t really helpful, but I can’t imagine either of us refusing to put a suffering pet down. It just wouldn’t happen like that.

I grew up with tons of critters, some food, some not. No matter the destiny of the critter in question I always developed a fondness for all of them (except the doe rabbit that tried to eat my finger–I enjoyed smacking the back of her head with the 2x4 and prepping her for the stew). I think because I had to get used to the idea of eating certain pets eventually I am better able to “do the right thing” with regard to unrepairable or just plain chronically ill (like our kitty who had a problem with urine crystals and accompanying complications at least 4 times a year) pets.

My wife knows when euthanasia is warranted, but she can not make the emotional break. So when the pets are sick I go to the vet alone with unspoken authority to authorize their controlled departure. It’s this way because we both know we’d get caught up in the situations you describe.

I would hate to overrule my husband, but I would.

And he would thank me later. And I hope he’d overrule me.

But we’ve been in that position and we’ve chosen euthanasia and we’ve been destroyed by it even when it was obviously the right choice.

Our most beloved cat, Tuffy, had diabetes for a couple of years. Near the end, it was getting even harder to regulate his blood sugar and his kidneys started failing. He wasn’t in pain and he still snuggled, so we kept him going and going and going. And his death was a terrible blow.

I think, in retrospect, that we didn’t do the best thing for Tuffy. He loved us. I know some people don’t believe cats can love, but I disagree. He loved us and trusted us and we kept him going even when he was exhausted and ready to die. Best intentions, but still.

I can’t bear the thought of letting another of my cats get to that state.

I can’t imagine anyone I love being so bullheaded in such a clearcut situation as that, so it’s very hard to say. Shall we assume they cling to the hope of recovery, but I feel that’s so impossible it’s better to end the suffering? Ouch, AWFUL choice - I know I should do what’s right, but they’d be justified in hating me for deciding on death for their pet, if they still hoped it’d recover…

Hijack: is there no way to knock it out and spare it the pain until they agree or it dies naturally?

Was the guy in denial, or was he sadistic? I know when we had to put our German Shepherd down, I was too emotional to even nod my head to agree to the procedure. Sort of “This second he’s alive, but the instant I move my head in assent I’ve killed him.” Ivylad had to consent.

Doesn’t the vet take the family aside and speak to them? I cannot imagine putting a poor animal through such pain. I know the vet and the folk at the clinic were very kind when Duke was euthanized. We even got a condolence card.

Just wondering…are there any legal complications if the vet staff decided to take matters in their own hands? If a family member is too stubborn or too hysterical to consent, and the vet knows there’s no hope, could they “hasten the end?”

If my wife were acting irrationally then yes, I would consider overruling her.

The trick is figuring out when she’s the irrational one, not me.

We have a sick kitty ourselves right now. Matter of fact, I have to pick her up at the vet’s in about two hours. She’s likely to be ok for now, but we just found out this morning she may not be in the near future (early stage kidney failure…going to try some things and see how it goes).

BF and I discussed what we would do when the time comes (been my cat for over ten years now…BF has been around 6 yrs. But she’s his little princess!). We agreed that as long as she is not in pain, is happy, and has quality of life we will do whatever we have to do to keep it that way (cost be damned…that’s a family member! Even though we are having a particularly rough time financially right now). When the day comes that she is suffering and her quality of life declines then we will do what we have to.

This cat is one of the most loving creatures I have ever seen. She has been an amazing companion to me, and has been one of my best friends through some very hard times. It would devastate me to put her down. But I would rather do that than let her suffer.

[SIZE=3]*shit…made myself cry now…[/*SIZE]

I would tend to be for euthnising a suffering pet of my own. If I had a s.o. who dissagreed, I would make sertain that nothing could possibly be done for the animal. If nothing could be done, I’d tell my S.O. that if I am ever suffering like that and she has the choice of whether a die quickly or slowly, I would want her to let me die with the least suffering.
Is it possible to have the euthanasia happen at your own home? Can a vet come and give the injection to your pet in its home? That might be part of the wanting to take your pet home reasoning that leads some to choose cruelty over euthanasia.

I’m ALWAYS the “bad guy” when it comes to putting one of our pets down. And I’ve waited longer than I should to spare my husband’s feelings. I’ve been called “heartless” and “cruel”, because I’ve wanted to end the suffering of my babies. :frowning:

I’d overrule him. I come from the same background Inigo describes, and I came to terms a long, long time ago with dying pets. I always mourned them, but I always understood that it had to be done. I know how to let go. I don’t think my husband would though, especially with the cats we have now. He’s very attached to the Tarabeast, and I don’t know if he’d be able to give consent to putting her down.

There are most definitely legal complications to a vet. or vet. staff member euthanizing an animal when the owner has refused to euthanize. No one is going to risk getting sued. However, there are exceptions and other options - see below.

Bippy> Yes, there are some vets with mobile clinics who will go to people’s homes and euthanize their pet is they request it, however most of them only operate during regular daytime business hours and often these decisions end up having to be made as after hours emergencies.
Cat Lady>
We’ve had plenty of cases where the spouses were divided on what to do, but it seems like most of the time one is able to talk the other into doing the right thing.

We hate it when people want to take their pet home to die, so we usually let them know graphically what their pet’s last moments of like will be like, how much they’ll be suffering and give the old “quality of life” lecture. A lot of people seem to think that the animals will just quietly slip into a peaceful coma and then drift off to pet heaven. Once we explain what it’s like to die of whatever condition their pet has, most of the time they realize that it is kinder to humanely euthanize them. Sometimes they do take them home anyway, but return later and put them down.

We had a case of a blocked cat that was in really bad shape, it was lateral, hypothermic, crying constantly and it’s bladder was as big as it could be and hard as a rock. They refused all estimates for treatment, they refused euthanasia and they refused to surrender it to the SPCA for humane euthanasia. They wanted to take him home and let him die. The vet explained how painful it would be for the cat to die this way and that it would likely take a while with the cat suffering the entire time. They still refused euthanasia or surrender. So, as a last resort, we told them that if they take the cat home to die we would report them to the SPCA for animal neglect and cruelty.

This cat was already suffering tremendously and was looking at at least several more hours of that if they took him home. At that point we no longer cared if we pissed off the client, it was just not right to let the cat die like that. Granted this was a risky move, however since their intent was for the animal to die we had every right to refuse to let the animal die inhumanely and I am sure the SPCA would have backed us up. Fortunately, this situation doesn’t happen often, nor would we want to resort to a threat in most cases unless we knew the animal would be suffering greatly. This wasn’t really a situation of an owner not being able to let go, they were just being jerks. The cat had already been suffering for a couple days to get to that point. They didn’t want to spend anything and they figured if that cat was going to die, why not let it die on it’s own.

Same here. Before we lived together, he had to decide on two separate occasions to put a dog down.* Both times, he went ahead, but could not bring himself to tell me for a while, until he could come to terms with it himself.

Other times the decision has been made for us. I personally have never made the call, so I can’t say how it feels, but having a beloved critter die in your arms is no picnic either.

But I think we both agree that in cases like in the OP, it’s time to say goodbye and remember the good times rather than prolong Fluffy’s suffering. (Would that we had the same option for humans.) I’m even guessing that he would more likely be the one to make the final call. But we would be in agreement, if reluctant.

*That was back when he still felt comfortable doing it himself, er, in the woods. After the last one, though, he decided that he would never do it again. Too hard on him, even though he knew the old fella didn’t suffer. From now on, the vet does it.

I had to have my cat put down in February, and my beloved dog several years before that. I love my animals beyond measure, and because of that I do the right thing for them when it’s time for them to go. I cannot imagine how anyone could be so selfish as to allow, or worse yet, insist on the situations you described. I will not let my animals die in fear and pain. Part of the contract between us is that I will make the appropriate decisions for them when they no longer have the capacity to enjoy life. I took them to the vet myself and I stayed with them while the vet euthanised them. I was not about to let them die with strangers, but the dying at home gig just does not work.

I cried like a baby both times and I miss them every day. It was still the right thing to do.

I don’t think I’d overrule him, but I’d be doing my damnedest to talk him around, and fast. I would be concerned that he would resent me if I took over and had the pet euthanised against his will, so I would do everything I possibly could to get him to consent.

I hope that both of us would be in full agreement to do the best thing by our babies should it come down to it. I can’t even begin to imagine how painful it will be for us to lose them, and I hope that day is a long way in the distant future.

runs off to cuddle kitties

The vet had already told them that the dog was dying and there was nothing more anyone could do for him. I told him myself that the options at this point were for him to die fast or to die slow and painful, and that if he were my dog he’d die fast. The owner wanted to be with the dog when he died, but he didn’t want to euthanize him. He also kept talking about how much better the dog looked when they were with him (because the dog was trying to lift his head), so I don’t know if he was in denial, or just a jackass.

No, we cannot take matters into our own hands. To do so would be a violation of the trust our clients put in us, and a breach of our professional ethics. Besides, such things are very much illegal.

Shade, there’s no way to knock the dog out without killing it. Animals in that kind of shape aren’t stable enough to withstand anesthesia, and trying to eliminate the pain of the natural death would cause unnatural death, which the owner doesn’t want. The owner of the second dog was insistent that we give her a sedative before they left, which we flatly refused to do. Sedation would have depressed her respiratory drive and made her even more hypoxic. It wouldn’t have killed her any faster, but it would have killed her a lot harder.

This seems to me to be the best response to people like this. I am not an animal person ( I ‘attach’ very easily, and have avoided pets because of it…i have enough work with my human relationships), but I find myself just furious at the bullheaded selfishness of the owners in the OP.

I’d probably done something violent to them, which I understand is the wrong reaction. I’m not one who will ever look on an animal as ‘part of the family’ but I can’t imagine letting any living thing suffer needlessly like that.

Cardsfan and I have recently had to put two of our beloved pets down. We both value the pet’s “qualilty” of life more than our own personal feelings.

If one of our pets were suffering and he could not bring himself to signing the paperwork, by all means I would to end the pet’s suffering and we could talk when I got home.

This type of scenerio would not be a problem for us because way before our pets get sick or old, we discuss euthanasia and at what point we’d do it. I think most pet owners don’t even start to think about this until the day comes and the pet industry (I’m not talking about vets and clinics here, I’m speaking of pet shops etc) isn’t very helpful at all on this topic. Go to your Petsmart or Petco and try and find one book on old pets and the death of a pet. I could find nothing, but I could find hundreds of books on puppies/kittens. Amazon and the likes were the only places I could find books on pet death. Chances are if you have a pet, you are going to out live it and will probably have to have make a decision about its health at some point. Puppies and kittens should come with this warning when you get them.

We had to put to sleep our beloved 15 year old Buster the first of this month. We knew after he started having cluster seizures that his quality of life was gone and that we had to help him out by putting him to sleep. Coming to that decision for us, was way harder than the actual process, but coming to that decision was made easier for both of us, because we had discussed it in the past. We also used the internet to look up “when to euthanize” since it’s such a subjective questions. We went to many cites where they had a series of questions about the quality of life of your pet and his health. On all of the questions we could answer “YES” to them and this made our decision a little less regretable. It was still a horrible decision to come to, even though it was the right one.

So my advice is to discuss euthanasia before that awful day comes and then hopefully you and your s/o will be on the same page as far as the decision goes, even though it is one of the toughest decisions you’ll ever make.