Euthanasia of the Companion Animal: The Impact on Pet Owners, Veterinarians and Society


Edited by William J. Kay, Susan P. Cohen, Carole E. Fundin, et al.

Although euthanasia of animals, especially pets, is a well-established practice in veterinary medicine, it still raises many troubling moral and ethical questions. Indeed, intentional animal death, even if painlessly induced, can have impact, in various and profound ways, all those who are involved in the decision and its implementation. In this unique collection of essays, 37 contributors—including veterinarians, social workers, psychologists and animal owners—discuss the individual and societal response to loss, death, grief, recovery from bereavement and the stress experienced when animals are euthanized.



Part I: The Ethics and Morality of Euthanasia

Common Fate, Difficult Decision: A Comparison of Euthanasia in People and Animals
Euthanasia as an Ethical Dilemma
Medical Research, Euthanasia, and the Animal Welfare Movement
The Use of Animals in Research: Attitude Among Research Workers
Animal Euthanasia and Moral Stress
Euthanasia and the Human/Animal Bond
Symbolic, Historical and Cultural Aspects of Animal Euthanasia

Part II: Euthanasia, Pet Loss and Client Grief
An Epitaph for Merlin
Euthanasia of a Pet: A Personal Experience
Euthanasia of Pets: The Impact on Children
Helping Children and Adolescents Cope with the Euthanasia of a Pet
Goodbye, Kitty
Equine Euthanasia and Client Grief
The Pet with Cancer: Impact on the Family
Pet Loss and Separation: A Multifactorial Problem
Pet Loss: Veterinarians, Clergy and Owners Working Together to Resolve Grief
Part III: Perspectives on the Human/Companion Animal Bond

Grief and Mourning Following Human and Animal Death
Attitudes Toward Animals and their Effect on Veterinary Practice Management
The Meanings of Loss: Human and Pet Death in the Lives of the Elderly
Euthanasia of Pet Animals and the Death of Elderly Owners: Implications for Support of Community-Dwelling Elderly Pet Owners
Euthanasia in Zoos: Issues of Attachment and Separation
The Bereaved Pet Owner and Social-Work Service Referral
Part IV: Euthanasia in Veterinary Practice and Laboratory Animal Medicine

Holism, Euthanasia and Veterinary Medical Practice
Breaking the News: Problems and Some Answers
Euthanasia and Bereavement: A Study of Clients and Veterinarians
A Veterinarian Confronts Pet Loss and Client Grief
Death and Euthanasia: Attitudes of Students and Faculty at a Veterinary Teaching Hospital
Client Grief Following Pet Loss: Implications for Veterinary School Education
Euthanasia in Laboratory Animal Medicine
Euthanasia Agents and Methods
Animal Disposal: Fact and Fiction
Appendix: Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia


“The topic of euthanasia is an extremely difficult one. Inherent in this subject are substantial moral, ethical, emotional, cultural and practical complexities; moreover, euthanasia is an issue that quickly polarizes people whose perspectives and values differ. This book is a useful and balanced addition to the scant literature in this area. It consists of a collection of 31 individual papers contributed by authors with expertise in various aspects of euthanasia. As such, it speaks to a broad readership.
"The articles are organized into four sections, two of which should be of particular interest to veterinary practitioners. Part II, “Euthanasia, Pet Loss and Client Grief,” for example, offers papers ranging from an excellent (and unusual) research study of client grief in response to euthanasia of equids to several papers addressing the special needs of children and adolescents who lose pets. Part IV, “Euthanasia in Veterinary Practice and Laboratory Animal Medicine,” includes an excellent article on breaking the news of an impending euthanasia decision to a client and a practical research study sharing findings of what clients facing pet euthanasia want from their veterinarians.
"The authors and editors have done a superior job in that the articles are well-written, readable and well-focused. Most veterinarians will be interested in at least a few of the papers; many will find value in most of them. Such veterinarians will find this reasonably priced book a valued addition to their libraries.”
American Veterinary Medical Association
“For veterinarians, social scientists and those seeking information on the subspecialty of medicine, thanatology, this text is recommended as a readable and singular source.”
Journal of Veterinary Medical Education
"This book contains a wealth of information concerning the moral, ethical and clinical issues involved in this stressful situation. The writings present the forthright thought of owners, veterinarians, psychologists, social workers and clergy concerning pet loss and owner grief. This important, multifaceted book should be made available on a permanent basis to everyone who works with animals in a veterinary hospital, humane societies and animal control agencies where euthanasia is performed.”
The Latham Letter
“Highly recommended for pet owners interested in the subject. Readers who have pets with incurable illnesses will find all the articles on coping with pet loss most helpful.”
— German Shepard Dog Review

"This book will be useful to veterinarians, shelter and humane society workers and everyone who has a beloved companion animal.”
Animals’ Agenda




265 pages

ISBN-10: 0-914783-25-4

ISBN-13: 978-0-914783-25-1

List Price: $24.95


265 Pages

ISBN-10: 0-914783-24-6

ISBN-13: 978-0-914783-24-4

List Price: $34.95