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I euthanized my first animal...

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I euthanized my first animal...

Postby Ash » Fri Jan 09, 2015 1:31 am

*WARNING: GRAPHIC DESCRIPTIONS*

So, I'm not sure how I feel about my reaction to euthanizing my first animal... And I kind of want to explain it, mainly to get it out... And then hear what other people have to say, or your thoughts on it...

What happened is I was at work, and apparently there was a live mouse stuck in a mouse trap. Nobody was willing to throw it in the dumpster since they were freaked out by it (even the guys). Upon hearing this, I frantically asked "where is it? where is it?" thinking it must be put out of its misery (already had euthanization on my mind because I assumed it was a standard mouse trap that was supposed to snap its neck).

They took me to it, and it was actually on the "sticky" traps (which I hate). It was still alive, but completely stuck to the trap and nearly immobile. I told them I would deal with it, so I went outside back to the dumpster.

Apparently standard protocol is just to throw the mouse (living or dead) and the sticky trap just into the dumpster.... That did not feel right to me. NO WAY was I just going to toss it ALIVE in the dumpster to starve to death over the next day or two with it being stuck to that trap....

I tried at first to get it off the trap so I could set it free, but there was no feasible way I could do that without dismembering it... I knew if I pulled too hard I would break off its feet and tail. So I knew I needed to euthanize it.

So at first I tried to pry its neck up some so I could wring it, but I couldn't pull the mouse's head up far enough from the sticky stuff without hurting it since it was SO stuck.

So I decided to kill it with blunt force trauma. I whispered "I'm sorry," to it, and then hit it as hard as I could against the dumpster. I looked at the results, and it was definitely dead--unmoving, blood, etc. Then I threw it in the dumpster and went back inside.

When I told my coworkers I had killed it, they were just shocked, like I had done something barbaric. My manager was like, "You need professional help!" I explained that allowing it to suffer for the next day or so and starve to death was inhumane, and euthanizing it was the most humane thing to do since I couldn't free it from the trap. But then everybody just got grossed out at the thought of me touching the mouse, and picturing it, and just told me to stop saying that because it was "too gross." It kind of made me mad that they reacted that way. I washed and disinfected my hands four times, and they also made me wear gloves for the remainder of my shift.

What's weird though, is after I killed the mouse, I felt no sorrow or gut-wrenching feelings. I just felt... proud, like I had helped it. I carried no remorse whatsoever, and it made me realize that I could definitely keep, breed, and kill feeders whenever necessary. I did not "delight" over the mouse's death, but I did what was best for it. I was even prepared to kill it with my bare hands if it meant putting it out of its suffering--that was what I tried to do first.

So when I walked back inside, feeling like I had done a great thing, it was kind of a shock that everyone was so appalled by my actions. And didn't care that it was the more humane thing to do.

So, I'm not really sure where I'm going with this... But it just really caused me to reflect. It bothered me a bit that I did it without any remorse whatsoever (mostly because of my manager's and coworker's reactions), but at the same time it made me proud because I could do what was needed in the situation.

Thoughts? Like I said, I'm not sure where I'm going with this, but it's obviously been on my mind a LOT today. No remorse or guilt, just mostly confusion. Does it make me... cold-hearted to have euthanized it so easily and with NO remorse? I know I did the right thing, regardless.

Would appreciate any advice or thoughts.
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Re: I euthanized my first animal...

Postby Ana » Fri Jan 09, 2015 4:38 am

I've been in that situation so many times, with many different species. It's never something that you get to contemplate
properly in the moment. In the moment, you are acting as quickly as possible to end the pain, to stop the suffering. It sounds
like that's what you did. I'm not sure how that would relate to a realization that you could be a party to feeding live prey, or
anything like that, because it's such a different scenario. You don't have that mental buffer of "Holy **it, hurry, hurry, I need
to hurry", nor do you have a pressing necessity to bring about the death - I think those factors "allow" a compassionate person
to kill without the burden of remorse.

The idea that anyone would be appalled is peculiar to me - what humane alternative did you have? I find it far more appalling that
people would allow the mouse to languish in what could very well be agony and terror. I think we must err on the side of compassion
at every opportunity, and that's exactly what you did. You should be proud. You were brave, and plunged in to do the right thing,
despite not knowing how you'd handle it afterwards.

Remorse could come from regret, but why would you have any regrets over bringing mercy to a terrible situation? Would you squeeze
a healthy animal to death, as they struggled? Watch the light go out of his/her eyes, with detachment or delight? Of course not. That
would be a profoundly different thing. *hugs* I'm sorry you had to experience that, but I'm glad someone was there to save him/her.
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Re: I euthanized my first animal...

Postby Ash » Fri Jan 09, 2015 5:00 pm

Thank-you, Ana. Those were the same thoughts I was having, but I just became unsure of myself when all my coworkers reacted the way they did. I obviously didn't want to kill it, but there was nothing else that could be done.

That being said, I don't feed my animals live food. I feed them pre-killed because it's more humane to the feeder and safer to the snake (except if I have a picky snake that absolutely refuses to eat f/t--then it's a decision whether to let the snake starve, or the rodent panicking, and since the snake is the pet, snake wins in that scenario).

Maybe I overreacted to what my coworkers said. But it just bothered me to think of how many other mice they must have just "throw out" like that, and them thinking I was brutal since I killed it.

I know it probably doesn't sound like a big deal, but since it was the first animal I actually euthanized with my hands (well, when I was going to wring it, and I guess blunt-force trauma isn't with your hands persay, but you get the idea). So it kind of made an impact on me.

Thanks for the encouragement and thoughts. Like I said, I don't feel any regret or remorse or gut-wrenching feelings, because it was truly in the best interest of the animal. I am very proud that I was able to do what needed to be done in that animal's time of need. I spoke to my sister about it, and she said she could not have brought herself to do it, even if she knew it was for the best.
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Re: I euthanized my first animal...

Postby Ana » Fri Jan 09, 2015 9:03 pm

It's totally understandable. I remember my brother racing home in tears with a young rabbit he had seen hit by a car. The
animal had sustained massive physical damage and was in shock. Afraid he would regain his senses, I was forced to kill him
in a very violent manner, to ensure it was quick. It's a terrible image that comes back to me from time to time. There's no
remorse, just the horror of the situation, the sights and sounds and smells. After that, I went to the internet and researched
the options available, so I'd never be in that situation again.

If you routinely find yourself in situations with mortally wounded small animals, a euthanasia tank can be built cheaply and
simply, providing a quick, painless death for small animals. You can keep the tank in your garage, or a high shelf in a closet,
where you can access it quickly should the need arise. Setup and administration only takes minutes.

I've never used this method for anything larger than a rat, nor would I recommend it, but instructions for the tank can be
found here - http://www.alysion.org/euthanasia/index.php - I've used this specific method on a dozen occasions, and have
never witnessed anything that has made me uneasy or uncomfortable. The animal gently falls asleep, and dies several minutes
later. There's no gasping, struggling, or any outward display of discomfort.

You did the right thing, at the risk of traumatizing yourself. Reasonable, ethical people will appreciate that. :)
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Re: I euthanized my first animal...

Postby pat » Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:27 am

Ash,

I guarantee you did the right thing by killing that mouse. I would rather see an animal killed than suffer.

if your coworkers feel you shouldn't have killed it, maybe catch as many mice you can in a have-a-heart trap,
then give them all to them and tell them to release them in their house, maybe they will change their tune.

right now, I am having a rat and mice problem. I am trying to figure out ways to kill them.
they are so damn bold, they hang out in the fox room eating their food. :roll:

the theory of deterring rats and mice using fox urine is definitely not true :lol:

my raccoons won't kill them. last night two of my foxes spent the night in their room.
I watched on the camera and seen a couple rats really close to them and the stupid foxes slept thru it all :roll:

I have too many rats and mice in the house to not kill them. I am not infested with them, but, could be if I don't control them.

again, you did the right thing. I personally couldn't do it, but, everyone is different.
I would have had hubby kill it if in that situation.
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Re: I euthanized my first animal...

Postby Ash » Sat Jan 10, 2015 5:58 pm

Thanks again, Ana, and Pat. I think the problem is so many people just are so detached from reality--they think chicken comes from plastic bags in the grocery store. And they eat it, but don't even think about where it's coming from. And then the thought of someone who actually euthanizes them weirds them out even more.

I think people have become so far removed from the realities of life like that. So me killing the mouse was most likely a big shock to them, and maybe they never pegged me for "that kind of person." Though they knew I had snakes and foxes.

I'm fine now about it though. It was mostly the first day that their reactions were really bugging me. They went on about how I was "man enough to do it," and I just thought, "No, I'm merciful enough to do it."
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Re: I euthanized my first animal...

Postby BlueBaby1023 » Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:13 pm

Ash, I'm glad you did the right thing. I had a similar situation at work a few months ago, but it was in regards to a frog not a mouse. At the kennel I worked for, the dogs would sometimes catch frogs and rip legs off but it would not always kill them. :roll:

One day, I was out doing the last scoop of the day, after 100 degree weather and 70-80% humidity (the heat index was 119). After we scoop the yards, we have a small metal can sitting in the sun on the far side of the property that's emptied every day or every other day. I was previously told that any dead frogs we found could go in the can, it was just getting dumped after all. And when I opened the lid, I noticed a leg sticking out. I didn't think much of it until I dumped my load of scooped poop and it moved. I tried to uncover it to see if it was still alive, which it was just barely, but there was too much in the can to fully clean it off. :cry:

I went back inside, because I had no tools to get it out of the can without getting covered in dog poop, and nothing to smash it's head with. I told Ashley, my supervisor about it, and she said "oh, yea, I did that at noon today." When I asked her why she didn't just smash it, she said she was too disgusted with it because she hates frogs and toads. I balked, and said "So you left it to slowly die in a can full of dog sh-t in over 100 degree heat?" She shrugged and said that it was just a frog. I told her to just let me know next time before she puts it in the can, because I'd rather smash it's skull than leave it to rot alive... :cry:

I only wish more people saw these creatures as capable of feeling pain and deserving of a swift death, if they must die. Unfortunately, there wasn't much I could do about the frog, and it was to the point of seizing and dying by the time I found it buried in the can. People are cruel. icon-sad
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Re: I euthanized my first animal...

Postby pat » Sat Jan 10, 2015 8:58 pm

I agree with you BlueBaby1023. animals can feel pain and distress. if any animal is in bad distress, the most humane thing to do is kill it.

lately, I have heard a couple time of dogs found in a dumpster that were still alive :twisted:
just recently, there was a female dog and it' pups found in a dumpster. the female and a couple pups
died. a few pups was able to be saved... how can people do this to an animal is beyond me.
they are just plain heartless.
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Re: I euthanized my first animal...

Postby Ash » Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:47 pm

Meaghan, that is such a sad story. I have a VERY hard time at the thought of euthanizing reptiles... Not sure why, I just know that their oxygen intake is different and so beheading them doesn't work. But smashing their heads works--instant kill. At least, that's how it is with snakes. Not sure about frogs, or lizards, I guess. But snakes can't be beheaded and killed.

That part seems so brutal to me--just to smash something--even though it's the best thing to do in that situation. Before I start breeding snakes, I want to look up different methods of approved euthanasia in case I have a bad clutch or something that needs to be euthanized. Most people just throw snakes in the freezer for euthanization, but that's just a horrible, slow death. Back in the day people thought it was okay and humane, but now that research has been done, we know that it is very bad for them to die that way.

One of the hard things I see in the ball python breeding community is all the "bad clutches," the ones that go wrong. Yes, there are hundreds that go right, but then there are some where they just don't do well at all--like they come out all connected to other parts of their body, or its heart is on the outside of its body, or a baby just doesn't develop correctly, or they are kinked (crooked spine associated with some morphs). The animals are still alive, but they just CAN'T live. So how do they kill them humanely? I really wish I knew. Since my vet has a lot of reptile experience, I will ask her about it and also buy this really good book that reviews reptile problems and diseases (it's a medical book). And maybe if I ever have a bad clutch like that, I can talk with her and figure out what to do.

I saved a garter snake once that looked like it had been through a lawn mower or something. It was recovering well, but then I found it drowning in its water bowl. I had never cried so much. I wish I had the stomach to kill it right then and there. Anyway, I really don't want to talk about that particular experience, but just want to reiterate it's definitely necessary to kill an animal that is suffering like that... I wish I had the courage in that case especially.

For some reason I'm not as... "emotionally-attached" to mammals or birds. Reptiles, for some reason, really have my sympathies.
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Re: I euthanized my first animal...

Postby Juska » Sat Jan 10, 2015 9:53 pm

You did the right thing.

Obviously, your coworkers' attitude towards removing pests is to capture it by any means, and then throw it away and pretend it wouldn't die exactly as you described - starving to death, stuck to a trap, being exposed to the elements...not to mention on top of that, slowly dying in a dumpster. Which I'm sure the mouse doesn't care about, but that's just me. No living creature should be thrown in a dumpster to die.

Their shocked reaction probably comes from that "out of sight, out of mind" state they put themselves in; when they are made to think about it, they get upset and angry. And they mostly likely reacted that way in a subconscious manner as well, because they weren't "brave" enough to just kill the mouse and have the incident done and over with, instead of tossing it in the trash like an inanimate object to slowly suffer.

The first thought that jumped into my head for your scenario was to go back inside and find a sharp knife to decapitate it with, since there was no way of un-sticking it to break the neck or otherwise painlessly euthanize it. But I'm sure they probably would have looked at you with more disdain at that act, lol.

When I worked at PetSmart I fed the snakes once in a while (if I was on duty the day they were to be fed on the schedule). The little corn snakes had to be fed pieces of pinkies, really little ones, and I had to cut them up with a knife. So inadvertently I've learned how to quickly cut up a mouse (frozen and thawed, obviously).

I don't think you're wrong for not feeling sorry that you did it, or horrified, or anything like that. You did what was right, and that shouldn't make you feel bad. They're the ones who overreacted.
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Re: I euthanized my first animal...

Postby Ash » Sat Jan 10, 2015 10:10 pm

Juska wrote:You did the right thing.

Obviously, your coworkers' attitude towards removing pests is to capture it by any means, and then throw it away and pretend it wouldn't die exactly as you described - starving to death, stuck to a trap, being exposed to the elements...not to mention on top of that, slowly dying in a dumpster. Which I'm sure the mouse doesn't care about, but that's just me. No living creature should be thrown in a dumpster to die.

Their shocked reaction probably comes from that "out of sight, out of mind" state they put themselves in; when they are made to think about it, they get upset and angry. And they mostly likely reacted that way in a subconscious manner as well, because they weren't "brave" enough to just kill the mouse and have the incident done and over with, instead of tossing it in the trash like an inanimate object to slowly suffer.

The first thought that jumped into my head for your scenario was to go back inside and find a sharp knife to decapitate it with, since there was no way of un-sticking it to break the neck or otherwise painlessly euthanize it. But I'm sure they probably would have looked at you with more disdain at that act, lol.

When I worked at PetSmart I fed the snakes once in a while (if I was on duty the day they were to be fed on the schedule). The little corn snakes had to be fed pieces of pinkies, really little ones, and I had to cut them up with a knife. So inadvertently I've learned how to quickly cut up a mouse (frozen and thawed, obviously).

I don't think you're wrong for not feeling sorry that you did it, or horrified, or anything like that. You did what was right, and that shouldn't make you feel bad. They're the ones who overreacted.


Thanks, Juska. Your response is really good advice, and it actually makes me feel better about my coworkers too--I was just so angry at them for a while (of course, I can keep a poker face in any situation, so they didn't know that I was angry at all). But people who are accustomed to city life just start imagining the world differently--like killing animals doesn't happen. Your chicken just arrives in a bag at Walmart--that's where it came from. I wish more people had the chance to be around farms, or hunted, and understood more about the "natural order" of things, which would then not phase them as much if I killed the mouse. It would have been more understandable to them.

I was never around farms much as a child, but after having joined the exotic animal community, it really opened my eyes to the realities of animal life. What's humane, what isn't, etc. Of course, some will always disagree with what you consider humane or inhumane, but most people don't get the opportunity to actually talk about these types of things. So the moment they hear that you killed a mouse, it comes as a shock to them, and when I try to explain why, their natural impulse is just to say "eeeww, gross, stop talking! You need professional help!"

All my coworkers are really good people. I don't like to talk down about them at all, but it was pretty surprising how they reacted. Though the general manager still thinks my foxes are gonna turn on me someday. :roll:
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Re: I euthanized my first animal...

Postby Juska » Sat Jan 10, 2015 11:52 pm

On a similar topic, I remember someone saying something in a tanning/leather crafting group on Facebook that I am a part of, along the lines of "I'm about go to deer hunting, does anyone know some words or a prayer that I could say to thank the deer for their sacrifice?"

I basically said "If the deer had any say in the matter, they'd probably ask you not to kill them in the first place. Saying "thanks for the meat" or anything similar is just something to make you feel better about the event. That's it. People romanticize things way too much.

I also said, "The wolf doesn't say a prayer before hunting down and killing his prey." He's hungry, and he must eat, or he will die and his pack will die. That's the way the world is. So don't feel bad about what you're doing if you're going to do it. If you have second thoughts about hunting, you might want to reconsider the idea. The poster did acknowledge the idea that saying something wasn't really going to do anything.

In your case, apologizing was acceptable as you had no time or resources to make the mouse's death even less painless or prevent the situation in the first place. You did what needed to be done, the only thing that could be done, in the most humane manner possible at the time. Much less so than starving or freezing to death in a dumpster. It has been literally deathly cold out the past few days where I live. I pity any living thing that has to make due with the weather outside right now.
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Re: I euthanized my first animal...

Postby minervasden » Sun Jan 11, 2015 1:46 am

Ash wrote:
One of the hard things I see in the ball python breeding community is all the "bad clutches," the ones that go wrong. Yes, there are hundreds that go right, but then there are some where they just don't do well at all--like they come out all connected to other parts of their body, or its heart is on the outside of its body, or a baby just doesn't develop correctly, or they are kinked (crooked spine associated with some morphs). The animals are still alive, but they just CAN'T live. So how do they kill them humanely? I really wish I knew. Since my vet has a lot of reptile experience, I will ask her about it and also buy this really good book that reviews reptile problems and diseases (it's a medical book). And maybe if I ever have a bad clutch like that, I can talk with her and figure out what to do.


Many herp breeders use 'bad clutches' to feed other critters. I know and know of alot that do but I'm not sure how open the herp community is about this practice.

If you've not read the AVMA Euthanasia Guidelines, here is a link to the 2013 edition. https://www.avma.org/kb/policies/docume ... anasia.pdf
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Re: I euthanized my first animal...

Postby TamanduaGirl » Sun Jan 11, 2015 2:56 pm

Most native cultures have some form of thanks for the prey animals they use. No it changes nothing for the dead animal but it does for you. It's a reminder to you that you are taking a life to feed yourself and to be respectful of that and not pillage and be trophy hunting or upsetting the balance of things.
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Re: I euthanized my first animal...

Postby Ash » Sun Jan 11, 2015 7:51 pm

I personally believe that this is a good thing to pray/thank. It is you as a human being thanking the animal that you are about to take. It doesn't make killing as cold, because it makes you more pensive about what you're actually doing. I personally really appreciate it when I've seen some people on youtube/facebook offer a prayer of thanks for the animal prior to euthanizing it. To me, it shows the respect they have for life.

I understand if praying isn't really your thing, but it is a part of my religion, and I know that God has placed animals on this earth for us to use. Prior to euthanizing anything for food or feeders, I personally DO plan on saying a word of prayer, thanking God for allowing me to use the animal--his creation--for my own needs.

For me, it would make it so I would never "lose sight" of what I was doing, if that makes sense, and not take killing for granted. I know that's probably more philosophical than you probably wanted to hear, but that's my take on it at least.

I did say sorry to the mouse because I genuinely felt bad for it. I know it can't understand me, so I suppose I was more just saying the words aloud for myself so I wouldn't view the killing as a cruel thing.
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