Almost all small animal vets have been asked to euthanise healthy pets, with half (53%) saying this was not a rare occurence.
Statistics released by the BVA also showed, in most cases, the request was due to the pet’s behaviour – 98% of vets surveyed cited this as the owner’s reason.
Problem behaviours vets see include persistent barking and howling, destructive chewing and inappropriate toileting.
Aggressive behaviour towards people and other pets is also a problem, with the PDSA Animal Wellbeing report revealing a third of owners have been attacked or bitten by a dog.
Burden on vets
Owners often offered a number of reasons when requesting euthanasia for their healthy pet, with surveyed vets saying the most common included:
- poor health of the owner (48%)
- moving to accommodation unsuitable for a pet (39%)
- legal enforcement reasons (32%)
The BVA said the figures, obtained during association’s “Voice of the veterinary profession” survey – which polled more than 700 vets across the UK – showed the importance of adequate socialisation of animals at an early age. They also highlight the burden placed on vets when faced with euthanising healthy animals.
BVA president Sean Wensley said: “This is the sad reality of a failure to socialise animals from the earliest possible age – a specific time in a puppy’s development that has a significant impact on its future temperament and behaviour.
He added: “Vets will do all they can in these situations to avoid euthanasia, including offering evidence-based behavioural advice, referring to accredited pet behaviourists or assisting with rehoming through reputable organisations, but, sometimes, these options are not appropriate – particularly where the behavioural issues make it extremely difficult to rehome.”
- Read the full article in the 19 September edition of Veterinary Times.
- The headline of this online article was amended on 16 September 2016.