Euthanasia Alert

Diane Newburg
From the July/August 1998 Rat & Mouse Gazette

Recently, I had a conversation with a retired veterinarian about how I put my animals to sleep at home. I commented that I could not imagine any circumstance under which I would take my rat to a vet to be put to sleep. Much to my surprise, she completely concurred. To my further surprise, and dismay, she told me, in her many years’ experience, how it “really” is: Your rat is taken away by the vet, but is immediately handed over to the vet tech. This person is even less involved with your rat than your vet. They usually cannot be bothered to use an anesthetic because it is “just a rat”. Most likely, the needle is stuck into the heart while the rat is completely conscious. Often they miss, thus having to do this several times; occasionally, they hit the lungs instead and the rat dies from drowning. I can only begin to imagine the terror and horror involved for a rat you have decided to put to rest and to be at peace. An alternative to this method is the intraperitoneal shot. A vet will tell you that this doesn’t hurt. NOT SO. When giving a shot, we use a 29 gauge (insulin) needle. Vets use a 22 or 25 gauge needle which, in comparison, is huge. It goes into the body cavity where it will likely puncture an organ. Unless the vet is very experienced in giving this type of shot, which is unlikely, there is no way they are going to be able to do it without hurting the animal. I am not saying you should put your rat to sleep at home. I am only saying that you should not ask, you should demand that you be allowed to be with your rat until the very end. In my opinion, if they won’t let you see what they are doing, they are doing something wrong or inhumane.