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  • Writer's picturejulieannsteffen


Euthanasia literally means easy death.

Euthanasia is the painless peaceful ending of life.

It is the absolute worst part of rescue. It is a mind boggling responsibility and never taken lightly. It's uncomfortable to talk about - but we have to talk about it. We want it laid out, openly, clearly, transparently and specifically so our fosters know our procedures and our donors believe in our decision process.

Mosh Pit Rescue is "no kill" in that we don't put animals down for time or space. We euthanize for one of 3 reasons: age if an animal is suffering and no longer able to be given quality of life, major untreatable medical such as a cat hit by a car with no reasonable strategy to save it, or behavior.

We work as a team with our vet partners and our training partners to make these decisions. If a vet tells us, this animal is suffering, there is no real medical way to make him/her comfortable or give her a happy future, we trust in our vets. If a behaviorist tells us a dog has behavior issues that cannot be trained safely, we trust our trainers.

We work as a team internally - a foster is never left alone in the decision making process. Our founder, our foster coordinators, our vet techs, and our entire adopter community stands behind our foster struggling through a worst case scenario situation.

Some considerations we discuss include:

*Would we be comfortable if a dog moved into the house next to our parent's house?

*Would we be comfortable adopting out a dog to a home next to a school?

*Would we be comfortable fully, honestly and in detail disclosing any bite history with a potential adopter - including showing them medical records and photos of bite wounds if applicable?

*Is the dog able to be happy and healthy mentally in addition to physically? *Are there additional medical options we can pursue?

*Are there behavior drugs that would ease issues?

*Would additional exercise or mental stimulation help?

*What if a dog broke off leash on a walk?

*Would we be comfortable taking responsibility personally for medical bills if a dog were to bite - could it have been reasonably forseen to the point we would consider ourselves responsible?

There is a difference between a loved, owned dog and an adoptable dog. If a dog has an owner willing to put tons of training in and willing to try different drugs/etc that's VERY DIFFERENT than a foster dog where we would be looking for a forever home. In rescue as a foster you have the following options: Keep it, transfer it elsewhere, adopt it out, or euthanize it. There is no fifth option. If keeping it isn't a humane reasonable option, transferring it to someone else isn't a humane reasonable option, adopting it out isn't a responsible option, what's left?

We will never put a MPR animal down without being there personally. Supporting our fosters in this way is EXTREMELY important to us. Fosters emotions have to be respected if worst case scenario happens. We respect that in full. A foster would never be expected to put an animal down alone unless that's what they wanted to do. We loved them, we love them, and we will be there both for the dog and out of respect for our fosters.

Dogs are never put down with out consulting professionals at A Dog's Life GR and without their support and recommendations. If Kristie Swan at A Dog's Life GR says euth, we euth. If she believes we can work with a dog, we work with the dog. #inkristiewetrust. Same with Jenn Gavin at A Pleasant Dog - if Jenn says to euth we euth. If Jenn believes we can work with a dog, we work with the dog. We trust the trained professionals both in vetting and training.

By having a "euthanasia committee" including vets, trainers, and MPR fosters/founders we layer in accountability and we also help ease the strain on our organization. Nobody wants to be the dictator demanding that a life is ended - what a horrible position to be in. We value the mental health of our team and it helps us as we fight for the dogs in our care.

If you are even in a position where you don't know where to turn with a behavior dog, reach out to A Pleasant Dog or A Dog's Life GR. Have a professional help you figure out the humane kind thing to do. You are your dog's only advocate and it can be terrifying, emotional, and confusing. If a vet is saying there is nothing else medically to do, and a trainer is saying it's not reasonable that this dog will have quality of life safely we don't have words to make it easier for anyone involved. We cry - we mourn.

Euthanasia can be a gift - with dogs being recklessly bred, sold and abused - and sometimes just genetically mentally ill - there are times it can be a gift to let a soul find peace in that way. It also leaves humans behind who even if they know 100 percent the decision is moral and unavoidable, struggle with the loss. Part of what makes it so hard, is we didn't breed them - we didn't abuse them - we didn't sell them - we didn't fail to socialize them - yet we are the ones dealing with someone else's decisions. The dogs we have behavior euthanized - the people who bred them don't even know the tears we cry because of their decisions.

We cry the tears other people should be crying. We do that because we love dogs. We advocate for dogs. We do the right thing even when the right thing is impossibly hard.

Our first behavior euth was a dog named Skye. Our founder sobbed for hours afterwards trying to process what had happened until out of nowhere hundreds of birds landed in her back yard and took off together. It was absolutely beautiful. Rationally, we know that was probably just a coincidence. None the less, it helped and felt like a sign from Skye that everything was OK. Our founder sees Skye in sunsets sometimes - she remembers her life.

If you have ever had to behavior euth a dog, please know you are not alone. If you need to talk to someone who understands because she's been there - please reach out to MPR - our founder and fosters would be happy to talk to you, cry with you, listen to you.

MPR animals are cremated semi private at Sleepy Hollow and remains would first be allowed to be kept by the foster. If the foster does not want the remains they would go to us here at MPR HQ where they will be released at the Jack Little Dude Peanut Cookie Steffen Memorial Creek or Kirk Park (where our founder spent the best day with her soul dog Jack in 2016). Both are beautiful places where we hope our animals are able to forever rest.

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