So, I thought I would share a story from my days working as a lowly veterinary assistant prior to vet school. I worked for a small clinic for a veterinarian that I had known since I was about 3. He and his family went to church with my family. Before working for him, I thought he was a pretty affable sort of guy. At church, he always seemed gracious and happy. He was well respected amongst my family's friends.
With little trepidation, I went to work for him during the summer after my first year in college. For the most part, I was ignorant of the proper way to do small animal practice, so I didn't realize that rinsing and reusing syringes AND NEEDLES was not only dangerous to the staff (would you feel safe rinsing needles or popping a dulled, overused needle in the skin of some poor animal?) it was clearly not a good idea for sterility. I didn't know that most surgeons change gowns between surgeries.
However, the first time I saw him kick a sedated dog down the hall into the surgery area, I knew there was a serious problem. He started with dragging the dog by the slip lead, in a stranglehold. Then he just kicked it down the hall. It wasn't a little push of the foot to slide it down the hall, it was a kick.
I also saw him backhand a dog that was sedated prior to a euthanasia. Why did he do this? The dog was being euthanized because it was aggressive. Hell, the dog had almost bitten me at a prior exam when I was just talking to the owner and I would have never thought to do that.
At another euthanasia, this very sweet little old lady was having to put her darling long term poodle to sleep. She told me she was looking forward to seeing him when she was dead. Once the deed was done, she turned to this doctor and asked, "Dr. Insensitive, you believe I will see Pookie in heaven, right?"
He actually answered back, "No, the Bible tells us dogs don't have a soul, therefore they cannot go to heaven."
The poor little old lady was devastated. I was horrified.
I learned many things from him. One of the most important things I learned was that just because you were an AAHA hospital and had been named practitioner of the year in your state, it did not mean that you were a good and compassionate doctor. The other thing I learned was that I would honor the emotional needs of clients even if it meant denying my own religious beliefs. As an atheist, I gladly have bowed my heads when an owner wants to say a prayer over their pet. I have assisted in many goodbyes where I told the owner that I believed that Fluffy would be waiting in the afterlife. While I do not believe in convenience euthanasias, I believe very strongly that when someone makes a decision to say goodbye to a pet, whether for financial, medical, or behavioral reasons, I will try to be as respectful and compassionate as possible.