Euthanasia Dilemma At Maryland Animal Shelters

DogFor the Anne Arundel County Animal control facility in Maryland, euthanasia is a part of the normal routine.

For both animals and employees, a sedative called Ketamine makes the horrible job easier because shelter employees said that the animals are completely out and don’t feel pain when they are given Ketamine.

But Ketamine is not just being used on animals but it is also used on the street as a date rape drug. Because of this, the DEA regulates it. Last July, Anne Arundel Animal Control and other shelters across the state were denied access to Ketamine.

They were told that since they don’t have a full time veterinarian, they can no longer buy Ketamine.

Instead the shelter had to switch to a weaker muscle relaxer called Xylazine.

Shelter Commander Lt. James Richey said, “The animal is still aware of its surroundings. It can still hear things, it can react to sounds and there’s the possibility it could snap at the person handling it.”

Also, this change has made the shelter alter their policy of allowing owners to be back with their pet while they are being euthanized. They don’t want the owners to see their pet possibly jerking or moving before they need to administer the euthanasia drug.

The Department of Agriculture and several other agencies are trying to change the policy so shelters can stockpile and use Ketamine, even if a vet is not there.

Source: WUSA9

(Thanks Debbie)

16 Responses to “Euthanasia Dilemma At Maryland Animal Shelters”

  1. Anonymous says:

    These controlled narcotics are being purchased by activists, carried illegally across state lines and administered in the back of a van. These drugs should be administered by a VMD. Animal control facilities in Maryland should be having a vet coming to the shelter and performing euthanasia as well as spay/neuter and other procedures requiring anesthesia. States need to cough up the money for licensed veterinary services and stop relying on volunteers and activists to dispense and administer narcotics. Animal control officers are law enforcement not doctors, and most certainly not GOD.

  2. Linda's Cats says:

    Boulder shelter is open 24/7. They do not keep a vet on hand at all times, they keep techs, who by this law would not have access to ketemine which makes a safe euthanasia.

    it’s naive to think that the only time euthanasia has to be performed is when you can get a vet to your clinic. no clinic maintains vets 24/7. it’s too cost prohibitive. But when a cat comes in after being hit by a car, or a dog comes in after being in a serious dog fight, you want to put it down as soon as possible to stop the suffering. You need to have this drug available to vet techs, and well trained non-vets for emergency use.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Then take them to the 24/7 emergency vet hospital where a diagnosis can be made. This drug is being used primarily for population control not emergencies.

  4. Pam says:

    Well, in my opinion, the owners should certainly be back there and let them see the results of their decision to get rid of a pet. They should know exactly what it entails and what that animal goes through. Then, at the very least, maybe these people would think twice before they get another animal.

  5. mittens says:

    it’s not ‘ just’ a ‘date rape drug’. i’ve only ever seen it used by humans( including myself when i was young) as a party /dancing drug particularly in the gay community. it’s been really hard to get on the street around here for sometime.

    while i do not suggest drug abuse to anyone these things exist for a purpose- to ease pain- like morphine- and denying it to those who genuinely medically need it just because it ‘ might’ end up on the street is morally wrong . when pain can be eased and it’s not there is no excuse. no excuse at all. american doctors can’t even use morphine even though some patients may tolerate it better than a whole raft of other artificial man made drugs. the war on drugs would be better served by not instilling irrational of what drugs do but fearing the actual real problem- the sick gang violence that illegal drugs create and working to ban that. the prohibition and fears that surround drugs only end up glamorizing them and stigmatizing people and creating violent criminal factions to make/ sell them. it does not solve the problems of addiction and abuse.

    further- to make drugs more affordable and allow them to be given when needed- pharmacists( like in europe) and other certified medical professionals need to be able in the first case to prescribe and in the second case administer. doctors have themselves a rather high incidence of drug abuse -why are they, given this fact, deemed to be the only ones who can ‘ control’ them. they only take about 3 hours of pharmacology study to get their degrees. pharmacists know more about drugs then doctors do in reality.

    at my own insistence i was present ( they were in my lap) at the euthanizing of 2 of my cats last year. they were both gravely ill with only 2 options-suffer agonizing deaths unassisted or a gentle death because their time was genuinely through. not all people who have their animals euthanized do it because they are bad pet owners who just need to get rid of a pet- we should be clear. sometimes euthanasia is the only option and to be truly gentle it does require a pre shot of special k or another barbiturate to ensure there is no further suffering. it’s the humane thing to do.

  6. The Lioness says:

    Mittens, you have a very good point. An animal that is suffering deserves a peaceful end to that suffering.

    I will, however, throw in my agreement with the person who stated that a lot of these places are using euth as population control and not to end suffering.

    It irks me to no end that these organizations who are supposed to help animals are so inflexible and will not do more to implement and practice No Kill.

    ~The Lioness

  7. Stefani says:

    OMG, I live in Maryland, what can I do?

    First of all, let me say that I hope experienced, licensed, and trained staff are doing the euthanasias, not unlicensed “staff” who don’t know what they are doing.

    Having said that:

    While on the one hand, we definitely don’t want staff giving sub-effective doses of ketamine so that they can stockpile leftovers and divert the drug, (because then the animals will also suffer by not getting enough of the drug and being more conscious when the deadly shot is administered)

    — on the other hand —

    What makes the DEA think that having a vet present and doing all the euths will prevent that? There are plenty of vets all over the county who divert drugs for personal use. Making a rule that it can only be done by vets or overseen by vets is no guarantee that there will be no drug diversion.

    Once again, they care a lot more about stopping people from using drugs than they do about these poor animals. It is very sad. These animals are being given shots to kill them, and even then, they can’t have the compassion to put their best interests first. The war on drugs has caused many peoples brains to turn to mush, like its the most important thing in the world. Well, it’s not. Compassion is more important than trying to put chewing gum in the drug use dam.

    Finally, I happen to know from participating with a Maryland-based animal advocacy group that the euthanasia rates in Maryland shelters are unnecessarily high. There is poor coordination across shelters. Shelters usually euthanize based on space available at their individual shelter alone — without expending the needed time and effort to coordinate adequately with other shelters and rescues in the state and region to move animals to available space elsewhere, or move animals based on their liklihood of being adopted in a particular community.

    For example: In the suburban areas near Washington DC, small dogs have a great chance at adoption, and there isn’t really enough “small dog inventory” at the shelters. On the other hand, the larger dogs (esp pit mixes, etc) languish and have not a good chance.

    But its the opposite in the more rural areas, where big dogs are more popular. With some regional management, shelter animals could be moved around to available space in communities where they have a better chance.

    Of course, it’s dismal for cats everywhere, I think the cat euth rate here is about 50%, and I am talking HEALTHY animals.

    :(

  8. Vettech says:

    We use Telazol on animals to sedate before we euth them at our animal hospital when they are young and we can’t get a vein easy, or if they are in pain, this knocks them out and sometimes just lets them go if they are ready. We can sometimes use Ace or Valium to take the edge off so they are calmer if the owners want to stay and watch. But yes there are times when there are no vets around, after hours hit by car strays that come in, no chance of saving the kindest thing to do is let them go, if we call the pound it could take them 24 hours to get out to us ( or so they say, the quickest I have seen them is 2 hours) and then they just put to sleep in the truck, they have asked up to euth if its critical and no owner or no help.
    We try and save them if we can even if they are a stray, but sometimes its too much damage that has been done.
    As for Ketamine, in working at several hospitals I have NEVER seen 1 cc go missing, we keep good track, its not in that much of demand, and it can be controlled, its what we use on all of out surgeries, we go through alot of it every day.

  9. purplecircle4pets.com says:

    Living in Canada, I am not sure what the procedure is however I do know that a couple of pet owners have said that one shot was not enough to euthanize their pets. The reason believed is that our pets are much more toxic, and a stronger shot is needed. This is very painful to watch, when one shot is not strong enough to put the pet out of it’s agony. This is parallel to us . Due to the increase of toxins in out enviroment, especially formaldehyde our bodies are also more toxic ,therefore only half of the embalmbing fluid is needed compared to what was used 20 years ago. It’s funny how we respectfully euthanize our pets. but for us we just keep the body going on machines, as it is illegal to be as respectful.
    Cheryl

  10. purplecircle4pets.com says:

    Living in Canada, I am not sure what the procedure is however I do know that a couple of pet owners have said that one shot was not enough to euthanize their pets. The reason believed is that our pets are much more toxic, and a stronger shot is needed. This is very painful to watch, when one shot is not strong enough to put the pet out of it’s agony. This is parallel to us . Due to the increse of toxins in our enviroment, especially formaldehyde our bodies are also more toxic ,therefore only half of the embalmbing fluid is needed compared to what was used 20 years ago. It’s funny how we respectfully euthanize our pets. but for us we just keep the body going on machines, as it is illegal to be as respectful.
    Cheryl

  11. Anonymous says:

    Linda’s Cats says:
    Boulder shelter is open 24/7. They do not keep a vet on hand at all times, they keep techs, who by this law would not have access to ketemine which makes a safe euthanasia.

    By law only a licensed vet can perform euth in CO. and a licensed vet always has access to meds.
    Here’s the regs:
    http://www.avma.org/advocacy/s.....a_laws.pdf

    BTW, Virginia is very lax allowing Peta employees their 97% euth rate under the guise of “humane investigator”.

  12. Me Dog. says:

    I guess I don’t understand why they *need* ketamine or xylazine–both of which, alone, can have a lot of nasty side effects. Most places mix the two for a less reactive drug.

    Sodium Pentobarbital (SPB) is painless. It’s basically an anesthetic that the animal gets an overdose of. It shuts the body down by taking consciousness away first then shutting everything else off after you’re already out so there is no pain or discomfort.

    The only reason we use Legend (or Premix) which is a ketamine/xylazine mix is for fractious animals that cannot safely be given an IP or IV injection of SPB. SPB cannot be given IM or IC. IC is cruel and against the law in CA to perform on a waking animal and the AVMA advocates that it never be done on a waking animal.

    Also, SPB is a class 2 drug, which is regulated the same as barbiturates, (duh it is one) and opioid drugs. However, there are forms of SPB that are not class two and are class three which means that you not need a vet on staff. An RVT can order it. In some states though, an RVT can get a DEA license and still get SPB if he/she is affiliated with an animals shelter.

    Once again, euthanasia does not need to consist of two shots. SPB, the actual lethal drug, is painless and smooth.

  13. MaineMom says:

    Thanks ME Dog. I was wondering how this type pf situation was handeled here in CA.

  14. Don Earl says:

    As close as I can tell, the shelters and areas with high kill rates are those that don’t have a policy that every pet that leaves the shelter be altered.

    Let’s face it, the person with a litter of puppies or kittens to get rid of doesn’t really care if the person they give to is going to give it a forever home. All they care about is that it isn’t their home.

    IMO, there should be a nationwide policy that for a shelter to receive any public funding, they must have a mandatory spay/neuter policy in place. No coupons, no come back in two months - the pet doesn’t leave the building unless it has been fixed.

    The comment about moving shelter inventory to where it is most wanted also makes a lot of sense.

    In the mean time, stockpiling popular street drugs at shelters to make them a target for junkies with guns?!

    Yeah. Right. That’s the ticket.

    I did find it amusing that there are still people who believe there is a “War on Drugs” going on.

    I wonder how many people are aware the evil Taliban had wiped out opium produtions in 2000-2001. In the summer of 2001, the CIA was actively organizing and arming the local opium lords into what eventually came to be known as the Northern Alliance. Under the watchful eye of the coalition of the willing, Afghanistan now accounts for 92% of the world’s heroin supply, with over 1.6 million pounds moving out of the courtry every year.

    Funny things is, the same thing happened in the Golden Triangle 4 decades ago. Are we waging a war on drugs, or simply protecting the crops?

  15. sammie says:

    Maybe they should spend more time finding a safe home for these kids rather than worring about finding Ketamine.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Keep in mind MD has Obama & McCain in mind. D.A es


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