In spring, Jastarnia divided into two camps. Half of the city was for the Bielawskis, the other half was against them. It was a sunny Saturday afternoon when Iwona Bielawska went for a walk with her Dobermann. Kaja had a serious accident a year earlier, resulting in a broken back and paresis of the hind legs. Despite many operations, efficiency has not returned. The owners began to think about putting Kai to sleep, but she seemed to sense it – suddenly she began to play and enjoy life.
Kaja got a pram, but she couldn’t get used to it. She preferred to drag her limp legs with her effort. In this way she moved when an employee of the District Prosecutor’s Office in Puck met her on a walk. After a few days, the mayor of Jastarnia received a letter suggesting that he should take action to put the dog to sleep. „Gazeta Wyborcza” quoted:
I see that the inhabitants of Jastarnia are not sensitive to animal harm. (…) And what are the city’s authorities saying, are you able to do something about the above matter? Maybe this dog should be put to sleep if he would continue to suffer like that.
Do everything you can
Sleeping a friend is a personal tragedy. According to psychologist Piotr Mosak from the Counseling and Therapy Center, the emotions associated with the death of an animal are sometimes as strong as when a family member dies. We asked veterinarians, psychologists and specialists in animal psychology how to choose the right time to put the sick dog to sleep so as not to prolong his suffering, but also not to take his chance of recovery prematurely. And what to do to make this decision as painless as possible for us.
The conditions for euthanasia are specified in the Animal Protection Act – emphasizes Mateusz Janda, president of the Warsaw district of the Society for the Care of Animals.
In contrast, Piotr Mosak believes that:
The veterinarian must decide if the dog is suffering and terminally ill. The owner of a sick animal should be sure of the vet’s diagnosis. And it’s not just about avoiding a medical mistake, but also about calming yourself down. – You have to be able to say „I did everything possible”.
Irena Jarosz, who runs the asylum for animals in Konstancin, says:
When I put a cat to sleep, I always do extra research. Sometimes I take the results to another vet. I never make quick decisions. One night a cat was brought to us after a car accident. The doctor suggested immediate sleep. I said I’d wait until morning. We applied painkillers, and the next day it turned out that it is better, and the cat is alive today.
Veterinarian Artur Dobrzyński emphasizes that:
There are no certainty in biology. One can never say with certainty that the dog is terminally ill. That is why trust in the person who treats our animal is so important. Sometimes I consult with other doctors. This helps not only me, but also the owner, who can then be more certain of the right decision.
Percentage of pleasure
„My 10-year-old dachshund underwent a failed operation a year ago. His problems got even worse (…). I have been going to the vet every few days for twelve months (…). The dog will not get better anymore. Should I put him to sleep? I am heartbroken and desperate. The doctor says that this decision is coming, but I can not make it „- writes a participant of one of the online forums.
Some dog psychologists say that a crippled dog can have an identity disorder, says Piotr Mosak.
– Let’s think, does life still please him?
According to Joanna Iracka, a specialist in animal behavior, it is not easy to assess.
You have to look if something else pleases the dog – a walk, treats. Estimate if it is 5 minutes of joy a day or more.
Rudy – a dog of the Jobczyk family from Łódź, running the „SOS Committee – Help for Animals” foundation – is to be put to sleep. He doesn’t have one paw, but it is not the disability that is the reason for euthanasia, but the cancer.
Dogs are so wonderfully able to adapt to their disabilities. Our other dog without a paw even learned to jump over the fence … His disability does not bother him. Rudy didn’t bother – says Anna Jobczyk.
But now, as soon as painkillers stop working, Rudy suffers. Most of the time, he sits down, head down.
We save every dog to the end and argue for any additional examination, but in this case nothing can be done – says sadly Anna.
Before the last surgery, the Jobczyk family pay a lot of attention to the dog.
We do with him what he likes the most. We go for long walks. We buy squeaky toys that he loves to fetch. We give favorite delicacies. We have received so much warmth from him that we want to make his last days more pleasant. We’ll probably call a doctor home to save the dog from stress. If this is not possible, then we will choose a moment at the veterinary clinic so that Rudy does not have to wait for the last injection in a waiting room full of other animals.
Does the dog sense this?
My bitch knew that I put her to sleep. She knew, tried to get up, protested. And she had cancer … – believes Marta from Warsaw.
Joanna Iracka protests:
She didn’t know she would be put to sleep. Dogs are not aware of life and therefore are not aware of death. But they respond to our condition. They sense that something is wrong and is beginning to be afraid. In this case, it would be best to restrain your emotions.
Only if we can do it in such a situation? You can try. Veterinarian Zbigniew Mozga admits that euthanasia is also difficult for the doctor:
There are special courses that teach veterinarians how to behave towards animal owners and how to deal with sleeping. But in Poland they are just beginning to be introduced.
Till the end together
„I had to put the dog to sleep” – someone wrote on the forum www.psy.pl. – „He has been with me for 14 years. I can not deal with it. Nobody tells you how difficult it is. I still wonder if I did the right thing to put Alfik to sleep. I miss him. It hurts so much that I had to make the decision to sleep. Help!”
Sleeping your own dog hurts and you have to come to terms with it. It is important to realize that our friend would leave us anyway, and our decision was only about choosing the moment. We did it so that he would not suffer. Talk to your loved ones about it. However, it is better not to participate in the procedure. Let’s remember the best moments together – explains Piotr Mosak.
Anna Jobczyk has a different opinion:
This dog has served us for so many years. He gave us joy and that’s why we owe him our presence to the end. Rudy will definitely feel that we are with him. I would never leave him alone at such a moment.
When to sleep The owner knows better
After receiving a letter from the prosecutor’s office in the municipal office in Jastarnia, it boiled. The mayor himself went with the city guard to the Bielawski family. Fortunately, the veterinarian appointed to assess the dog’s condition found that Kaja was suffering and the case was closed.
Fafik, a mongrel from Warsaw, is in a similar situation as Kaja.
Fafik was my friend’s dog. One day he died, we found him paralyzed in an operating theater in a shelter, with a broken spine and paresis of hind legs. A friend told him to put him down so that he would not suffer, but Mrs. Anna rebelled and took him. I don’t remember how many times I had to defend myself because on the street I was threatened by the police or the Society for the Protection of Animals – he says. – And I certainly will not put him to sleep – says Anna Karosińska.
The Jobczyk family were also worried.
We were complained to the veterinary inspectorate that we neglect dogs and mistreat them because they are wheelchairs. Sleep suggested.
However, in Poland it is difficult to take an animal from someone and put it to sleep, even for humanitarian reasons. TOZ or another organization must submit a petition to the court for deprivation of care for an animal, and only after a court order can the dog be picked up.
I can’t imagine that anyone could make such a decision for us, because only the owner can assess whether the dog is suffering or not – Joanna Iracka comments on this situation.
Doctor Ewa Pacanowska from the Sfora clinic in Łódź agrees with her:
I explain to dog owners who are asking about the right moment of euthanasia that they will make the best decision. They will certainly recognize by the dog they have been with for 14 years that he is suffering and does not want to live anymore. And they can have a calm conscience.
Before the injection with the appropriate tranquilizer, the dog gets another injection – the so-called stupid joke. He is to stun him (the same is given before surgery and anesthesia). The hypnotic starts to work within a few minutes. The dog should be on an empty stomach.