Euthanasia Information and Advice? - Page 2 - The Horse Forum
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post #11 of 16 Old 03-12-2011, 12:28 AM
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Of course. We're here for you .

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post #12 of 16 Old 03-12-2011, 12:34 AM
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Location: Southeastern PA
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Originally Posted by smrobs View Post
Of course. We're here for you .
Exactly. Every one of us is feeling your pain, and I think you are very smart for asking these questions to prepare yourself.

I have never been there when a horse has been PTS so I am grateful for you for asking this as I (and others) can learn what to expect from it.
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post #13 of 16 Old 03-12-2011, 10:18 AM
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Location: secret mountain valley
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You have gotten some great advice so far, and like the others I feel your pain and can definitely relate to what you are going through. Some of what I have to say may seem cold or callous but I have put down several horses (I am about a year away from finishing vet school) and these are the things that clients always forget to ask about when they are so upset and they are the things that really need to be discussed BEFORE you get to the highly charged day.

Some of this WYG hit on. It is going to be, more likely than not, a very traumatic experience for you. Horses do not handle euthanasia as well as some of our small companion animals do. If they are very old or very ill, it can take a long long time for the drug to circulate and cause death. Some of them panic when they get the sensation of the drugs going. Some of them flail and some just go down peacefully.

Depending on your options on what to do with the body, chemical euthanasia may not be your best bet. I mention this because where I live, if you cannot have a backhoe come in and dig out a spot for the horse, we have to take them to the dump. Horses euthanized with chemicals must be buried very deeply so that wildlife cannot get into the chemical filled body. They cannot be rendered because of all the chemicals. I mention these things because, IMO I think that a bullet is the fastest and most humane way to put a horse down. It also helps a lot with the problem of disposal afterward. It sounds brutal and horrid, but if you have ever seen it, it is immediate and complete. If you blink when the gun goes off, the horse will be gone before you open your eyes. All it takes is seeing one or two euthanasias where the chemicals simply cannot penetrate all the tissues and you will never opt for this method again.

Good luck with your decision. I think it is a good thing that you are starting the dialogue with your vet now. Make sure to ask the emotional questions too like "what will it look like, how might he react" because it is important that you prepare yourself in case anything goes awry.
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post #14 of 16 Old 03-13-2011, 12:03 AM
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: North Texas
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The worst part is the falling down and then the last breath they take. Their eyes will usually stay open and the mouth is usually open. Another thing I wasn't quite pre-pared for was the loading process. They wrapped chains around the legs and wenched the horse into the trailer. That particular day there were 4 or 5 other dead horses already on this trailer which wasn't fun to see.

If I have to put one of my own horses down, I'll probably choose the bullet and let my husband do it so that I can safely bury them on my own property. To me the thought of them hauling my horse to the dump like a piece of trash is worse.

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post #15 of 16 Old 03-13-2011, 12:30 AM Thread Starter
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Location: California
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I was reading up on the idea of shooting, but I just don't think we could do that. Ultimately it would be my mom's call anyway, and I know she wouldn't be okay with that, even if it is smoother. It's just the whole idea of being uncomfortable in general with the concept of getting shot, you know?

I'm trying not to think about the dump part, honestly, because we aren't legally allowed to bury horses here and I don't have my own property on which to do it anyway...there's really no way. I also only have so much say in what happens anyway, again, because it really is my mom's call. All I can really do is mentally prepare myself, I just need to kind of gain information more than anything.
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post #16 of 16 Old 03-13-2011, 12:52 AM
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I also, have had several horses put down here over the years. The first was my own little WB mare. She was the first horse I had bought with my own money when I was a kid, loved her to bits. I got home from school one day and usually she would come galloping up to the gate the greet me, this time she neighed in a very high pitched panicked tone.
Turns out she had broken her front leg all the way through the cannon bone, to the point where the leg was dangling by a bit of skin. No one else was home, so I had to leave her to call the vet, and then stand with her for almost an hour until they could get there.
She was so stressed that the vet could not get near her to inject her, so shooting was the only option. She was gone in an instant.
We were able to get a backhoe in and bury her on the property the next day.

Another horse, was my coaches 30 year old gelding. He was going downhill fast, full of cancer and arthritis so the decision was made to put him down. He was weak and sore, so ready to go. He was given an injection... it was one of the most traumatic things I've witnessed. He fought the drug till the end. Even when he couldn't stand anymore, he was on the ground just about doing cartwheels. He was thrashing so violently that the vet couldn't get near him to give him a second dose and so he died slowly and violently.

The others again were retired horses put on my property by their owners. All of them were shot. I could not cope with seeing another chemical euthanisia. I know they're not all like that, in fact what I saw would have been quite rare, for a horse to fight to that extent, but it is really traumatised me and now it is shoot or nothing. Shooting is immediate, the horse has absolutely no idea of whats coming, no pain, no anything. One second it's happily there munching on some hay, and the next, lights are out. I know shooting sounds awful, and in this day and age we're brought up to think that shooting is terribly inhumane, but actually, it is kinder than chemical. There is absolutely no chance of the horse fighting it.

As for getting the body removed. Don't be present. As someone above said, it's not a nice process. One of the retirees was put down on my driveway for ease of access of the truck. There was a blood stain for weeks from him being dragged up the drive by chains into the back of the truck.

I'm really sorry, this is probably making you feel awful!! I don't mean it to, once a horse is gone, it's gone and can't feel a thing. I think we as humans get so upset about these things not so much because we're worried about the horse, but because we've been left behind and have that feeling of guilt that we justified taking a life.
Remember that its' the right thing to do for the horse, if he's sore and losing weight, it's far kinder to put him to sleep than let him go on for years. The unfortunate thing about horses, is that they don't tend to 'just die one day' and rather, just slowly degrade until they're skin and bones and end up colicking :(

You have made the right decision, stay strong and big hugs to your mum.
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