Time to Say Goodbye

The whole painful process–deciding when the time has arrived, disposing of remains, dealing with grief–can be made less stressful when everything involved with the euthanasia process is understood and decisions are planned ahead of time.
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Time to Say Goodbye
Considering end-of-life decisions for your horse ahead of time will help minimize the unpleasantness inherent in these events and serve to provide optimal care for your horse. | Photo: Photos.com
There comes a time in nearly all horse owners’ lives when the last, best thing they can do for their horses is to release them from the agony of an untreatable condition or terminal illness via euthanasia. In some situations, the decision to euthanize is clear–a painful, devastating accident from which there is no recovery; an acute, fatal disease from which the horse is constantly suffering; or age taking away the horse’s ability to move about and live comfortably. But often, the horse’s injury or terminal illness is one where it might be difficult for the owner to determine if there is enough quality of life to offset a horse’s discomfort or diminished lifestyle, or whether the horse has spiraled downward to the point where there is nothing much left in life for the horse to enjoy.

The whole painful process–deciding when the time has arrived, disposing of remains, dealing with grief–can be made less stressful when everything involved with the euthanasia process is understood and decisions are planned ahead of time.

Planning the Unpleasant

“We live in a society that feels that planning ahead about death is morbid,” says Carolyn Butler, the former director of the Argus Institute Support Services at Colorado State University (CSU) Veterinary Teaching Hospital; Gail Bishop is the Argus Institute’s current director. “We know from research that if people spend a bit of time thinking about what would be appropriate, then when the event occurs, particularly if it’s an emergency, better decisions can be made,” she continues. “Often, when people get to a crisis point, they’re less likely to make good decisions.”

Greg Couger, M. Ed. (Master of Education), a former grief counselor and educator at CSU, agrees. He adds, “Planning ahead gives the horse owner time to focus more on the emotions associated during the euthanasia process and more quality time to spend with the animal, as opposed to dealing with more of the business aspect of handling remains, and so on

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Written by:

Marcia King is an award-winning freelance writer based in Ohio who specializes in equine, canine, and feline veterinary topics. She’s schooled in hunt seat, dressage, and Western pleasure.

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