I learned one of the biggest lessons of my professional career a few months after I finished veterinary school from a case I never saw myself. A client requested euthanasia for a 12-year-old BAR (bright, alert, and responsive) cat from another veterinarian during my evening emergency shift. My colleague attended to the case, which our team was upset about before the history had been taken. The woman said she loved her diabetic cat but could not give him his injections anymore.
My colleague did what most of us would do. She talked to the client at length about the importance of the injections and about rewarding the cat. The client left the practice with her cat in the carrier but returned 5 minutes later, saying he had escaped somehow and she could not find him. However, the parking lot security camera showed that she had let her cat out and driven away.
I realized how badly we had let the woman and her cat down.
Related Article: Handling Convenience Euthanasia
What if the client had told us that her husband had died last week or that she was in an abusive relationship and was concerned about her pet’s safety? Would that have made a difference? Perhaps—but we should not need to know our clients’ personal information to decide whether a euthanasia is for convenience (see Euthanasia Definitions).