The term euthanasia originates from Greek and it is used to mean good death; animal euthanasia is killing or allowing an animal to die a painless death. There are different reasons that may bring about euthanasia such as, when an animal is suffering from an incurable disease, lack of resource needed to support the animal and experiment on animals. Additionally, Animals may also be killed to cull the no longer needed animals. It is paramount that when an animal has to be killed for reasons such as testing, researching and teaching its death remains painless. The following principles are used for humane killing as set forth by CCAC: the death ought to be immediate when the animal is unconscious. This means that once the animal is injected with anesthesia that makes it lose consciousness then it is killed. The other principle is that the animal ought not to suffer from pain during the procedure.
Need to provide Euthanasia
The need to give the animal painless and stress free death arises from humane consideration and good experiment design. Moreover, there are guidelines from the ‘United States Public Health Service’ that supports euthanasia. These guidelines provide a guide on the method to be used in killing the animal (Bayne & Patricia, p157). The American Veterinary Medical Association is the body charged with formulating and updating the method to be used in giving an animal a good death.
How animals do experiences Euthanasia
Since the act is supposed to be painless it is paramount that the person carrying out the action first takes time to understand how pain manifest in animals. This understanding plays a great role in helping to make an intelligent decision on the method to use for euthanasia. There are methods that are condemned by American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) such as the use of agents of muscles-immobilization. This is immobilizing the muscles without blocking the pain so the animal cannot move, but the pain is real. The most recommendable method of giving an animal a painless death is deep anesthesia that not only blocks pain, but also makes the unconscious.
A more physical method of animal euthanasia is stunning the animal and killing it before it regains consciousness. Euthanasia ought not to be carried out in the presence of other animals as these may have a negative impact on the animals. Animals watching a member of the species die may have psychological problems. Therefore, Euthanasia ought to be carried out in a separate place or room away from the rest of the animals.
Who should carry out Euthanasia?
For a person to qualify to carry out euthanasia he or she requires adequate training in order to ensure that he execute the act in a humane manner, respectful and professionally. Training an individual to carry out Euthanasia include helping the individual recognize distress and pain in animal behavior, how an individual should restrain and handle the animal, proper use of equipment and methods of ensuring the animal dies immediately and how to confirm the death of the animal.
How animals should be handled before Euthanasia
The act of killing an animal using euthanasia should be done in a manner that is gentle, careful in order to minimize fear, pain and distress to the animal. In cases where restraining the animal causes either fear, pain or distress a tranquillizer or sedative ought to be administered or considered.
Selecting a Humane method
Recently there has been more concern from the general public and the federal government as to the manner animal’s euthanasia is carried out. This makes it paramount for anyone to reexamine the method to use to carry out euthanasia. The following questions can be used by scientist to select the best method to use for the process.
• Will the scientific goal be interfered with by the method? Will the alternatives leave tissues unaltered?
• Does the method pose a threat to the workers? Are the alternatives safer?
• Will the method of euthanasia be a stress source to lab workers? Are there less stressing alternatives?
• Is the animal provided with a painless stress free death by the euthanasia method?
These questions are crucial in guiding a scientist or anyone carrying out euthanasia to choose the best humane method.
Acceptable Euthanasia methods
The following are some of the AVMA recommended method for carrying euthanasia
This is mostly carried out on pets, and it involves injecting the pets with a dose of sodium thiopental that causes the unconsciousness that is followed by respiratory and cardiac arrest thus resulting to a quick death which is peaceful.
This method involves the use of gas anesthetic, for example, isoflurane mostly used on small animals. The small animals are placed on chambers that are sealed and the anesthetic gas is introduced. In some cases gases such as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen are used as killing the animals (Maryann).
Decapitation is a method that involves severing the animal on the neck and the head. Guillotine designed especially for this procedure are kept in good form to ensure the process is as humanely as possible. The pros of this process are: the animal’s brain is not contaminated with chemicals and the animal loses consciousness. The shortfalls of this method are that it can unpleasant aesthetically, can cause injury to the person executing it and the animal needs careful restraining.
This method of euthanasia involves displacement of the neck. When done by a professional the process is fast and less painful. However only an expert is allowed to use this method because if done wrongly the animal may fail to die and end up experiencing much pain.
This mostly done on large animals such as cows deer or even horses and it done through the means of captive bolt commonly applied on cows whereby a bolt is shot on the cows forehead the bolt disrupts the cerebral cortex causing death to the animal. Free bullet is another means used on horses. The horse is shot with a bullet directed to the spine from the forehead and passes through medulla oblongata thus killing it instantly.
Ensuring the animal is dead
An animal is confirmed dead when there is no more blood flowing to the brain. Thus, after anesthesia it is paramount to ensure that the animal does not come back to life by killing it. This can be done by opening up an animal or neck dislocation.
Signs to look for to confirm that the animal is dead
To confirm that the animal is dead, one ought to look at signs such as respiratory movement. However, because the heart continues pumping even after death of the animal for some time looking for other signs is advisable. Other signs to look for including heart beat absence, pulse absence and the mucous membrane turn pale. The eye corneal reflex is lost. Glazing of eyes is another sign of death.
Disposal of the dead animals
This is carried out after the animal’s death is verified. Animals like sheep, horse, cows, and pigs are used as food by human beings or food for their pets. The carcass or the dead animal can be burned or buried.
Emotional impact of euthanasia on human beings
What we call good death on animals may cause distress to the staff working in laboratories. Psychological effect on people involved in euthanasia may be caused by individuals getting attachment to the animals and having t kill the animal after the completion of the study. As a result, these individuals may start mishandling the animals. The individuals thus require basic training on the psychological dealings connected with dying (Gandhin, p188). In addition open forums should be started to discuss issues related euthanasia and such individuals ought to be encouraged to attend. Furthermore, any person not comfortable with euthanasia method ought to consult his or her supervisor.
Euthanasia is humane killing of animals, however, to do this one requires respecting animal, skills and knowledge and comprehending many other factors that involve choosing a better humane method. The most appropriate humane killing method is the one which when carried out the animal does not suffer rather experiences a quick painless, fearless and distressful death.
AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2013 Edition. Retrieved from https://www.avma.org/kb/policies/documents/euthanasia.pdf on 4/16/2014
Bayne, Kathryn A. L, and Patricia V. Turner. Laboratory Animal Welfare. London: Academic Press, 2014. Internet resource.
Gandhin, Temple. Improving Animal Welfare. UK: Cabi Organisation, 2010. Print.
Maryann Mott. Animal Gas Chambers Draw Fire in U.S. National Geographic News. 2005 Retrieved http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2005/04/0411_050411_peteuthanasia.html on 4/16/2014