Saturday, January 03, 2009
The decision to euthanizeThe most difficult part of my job, as part of the management team, is the decision to euthanize one of the animals in our care. The East Bay SPCA is not a "no kill" shelter. However, unlike city or county shelters, we only euthanize for health or behavior reasons. We will keep an animal up for adoption as long as it takes to find them a home, granted they pass our health and behavior criteria. That is where it gets tricky. What is that criteria and how do we decide was "passes" and what doesn't?
The case I want to talk about is a cat named Canella. Canella came to us from another local shelter. We did an initial assessment: cat is friendly, enjoys human interaction, seems healthy, etc. It was noted that she doesn’t like other cats. That’s ok; we’ll take her into our program and let the potential adopter know. She’s a Lynx Point Siamese mix, she will get adopted quickly!
Canella showed signs of stress after arriving at our shelter, as cats often do, by not eating a lot and acting a little quiet. She’d come over for pets and affection, but something seemed off. We had the vet take a look. She decided to run a blood panel as it appeared Canella was probably a little older than shelter staff had originally thought. (That is not uncommon. It is very difficult to tell a cat’s age when given no history by previous owners.) The blood panel came back and the news wasn’t good. Canella had kidney disease.
In the past, an animal with kidney disease was not put up for adoption. They were euthanized. This was not good news for Canella – a sweet, affectionate, beautiful, petite kitty. After discussing the case, we decided since Canella appeared stable – her eating had become regular, she seemed happy, etc. – we decided to put her up for adoption with a medical waiver. A medical waiver states that the adopter is made aware of the health condition and agrees to take on responsibility for the animal post adoption. We knew we would really have to tug at some heart strings to find her a home, but we wanted to give her a chance. With our new program in place, Club Second Chance, we felt it was the right thing to do.
Unfortunately, Canella has been waiting for a home since September. It was recommended that we perform a blood panel every couple months and weigh her regularly to monitor the progression of the disease. She is also to be fed prescription food, called K/D, which is a specially formulated diet for animals with kidney disease. After running the latest blood panel, her disease does seem to be progressing, but she is still in a stable state. It is uncertain how long she has, but it is certain that we would love to find her a home to live out her final days, whether that ends up being weeks, months or even years.
The time will come when we or her adopter will have to make that most difficult decision to put her to sleep, but not yet.
If you would like to meet Canella, she is available for adoption at our Oakland facility, located at 8323 Baldwin Street. As part of our Club Second Chance program, she will receive a discount for services at our Veterinary Clinic as well as discounts at participating businesses.