In honor of spay day

Today is spay day and in honor of this very important day my friend Rose DeDan wrote a beautiful and very moving article on her blog, Dare to Care, the Life You Save May Be Someone’s Future Pet. If you get the time please take a moment to read it.

Many of you know that I spent my first three years as a veterinarian working at the Seattle Humane Society. While I consider it some of the most rewarding work I have done, I am still haunted by nightmares from the euthanasias I performed. It is never easy to take an animal’s life and although I think my work there saved far more animals then I had to kill it is still difficult for me. Many times I would end up curling up on the floor at home sobbing after having a particularly hard day.

I remember in particular a litter of five beautiful orange tabby kittens who came in with their mother and father, also very striking orange tabbies. The whole family of cats had been surrendered. We always tested every cat who came in for FeLV and the dad of this family came up positive. Because FeLV can be spread through drinking water and this whole family had been together they all had to be euthanized. My staff and I were heartbroken but there wasn’t anything we could do. It would take six months to know for sure if mom and the kittens were infected or not and we did not have the resources to keep them that long.

I swallowed by emotion the best I could and euthanized dad and then took one kitten at a time away from mom and euthanized them. At the end I went back to get mom and couldn’t do it. I looked her in the eyes and realized that I had just killed her whole family and for the first time in my shelter career I just couldn’t. I ran back in tears and quickly explained that I needed to leave for a while, retreating to the bathroom to cry. Someone else took over and I didn’t have to face mom but I will always remember that day.

Please, please spay or neuter your animals. I hope for a day when shelters will no longer have to euthanize animals and those who work there will be able to help without killing.

I have many tales I could tell about the animals on death row who passed through my bathroom as foster cats and went on to live and the two who never left and are still living with me. My very precious Melody and Rudy, both with chronic upper respiratory infections. But today I want to share my sadness in the hope that it helps prevent more unwanted animals from entering this world


One Response to “In honor of spay day”

  1. Rose De Dan Says:

    Oh Lena, I hope that many people get to read this post and are as moved by it as I was. Thank you for sharing. Best wishes, Rose