white cat with grey "eyebrows"

The Connecticut Humane Society strives to find a match for each and every pet who comes through the doors. It is CHS’ responsibility to consider what is right for pets, adopters and community. The fact that pets may be medically or behaviorally unsound, may be suffering, and/or may be a safety risk to the community are key factors in the decision-making process.

Making the decision to euthanize is extremely difficult and emotional for the staff charged with this task. CHS uses behavioral and medical expertise coupled with sound protocols and procedures to learn about each individual pet and balance his/her needs with the greater good of the population in care. Humane euthanasia is the final act of kindness that can be shown to a pet. CHS understands and accepts the responsibility of making sure that pets are handled with respect and sensitivity and are protected from stress, fear, discomfort and pain.

Step 1

To determine the POSSIBLE necessity for euthanasia, the following basic issues are considered:

  • Does the pet suffer mentally, emotionally or physically and have a poor prognosis, protracted painful recovery, or incurable illness?
  • Does the pet display an unacceptable danger to other pets, to itself, or to the public?
  • Is the pet presented for an “owner requested euthanasia”? (CHS provides this service to the public.)
  • Is the pet a stray with an unknown behavioral and medical background?
  • Has the pet been a resident in the CHS adoption program and is now experiencing a significant decline in their physical and/or behavioral health?

Step 2

Conduct medical and behavioral analysis which MAY bring CHS to the conclusion of euthanasia being the most humane approach for a particular pet.

In the following medical situations, euthanasia MAY be the determined outcome:

  1. The pet is suffering, dying or has a medical condition that will lead to further suffering and/or death. Treatment will be given whenever appropriate, but not if it will prolong the suffering or will result in a limited lifespan which will be lacking in quality.
  2. The pet has a contagious disease that will lead to the suffering and possible death or chronic illness of other shelter pets and true quarantine/isolation is not reasonably possible.
  3. The pet is a health threat to staff and adopters.
  4. Furnishing medical treatment is beyond the reasonable means of CHS. It is CHS’ responsibility to utilize resources for the benefit of as many pets as possible.
  5. The pet requires rabies testing under State law. An animal must be deceased to test for rabies.

In the following behavioral situations, euthanasia MAY be the determined outcome:

  1. The pet has bitten a human or another pet(s).
  2. The pet displays unprovoked, and/or overt aggression and is a threat to staff and/or adopters and is deemed unadoptable.
  3. The pet has been deemed unadoptable because of its dangerous actions during the temperament assessment.
  4. The pet was recommended for behavioral rehabilitation, has not responded to the rehabilitation process and has therefore been deemed a risk to the adopters and community.
  5. Pets regardless of size, sex or breed that have a history of aggression towards people or other pets.
  6. The pet displays severe social phobias and cannot/will not interact with people.
  7. The pet displays separation anxiety severe enough to cause harm to him/herself, or poses a danger to the safety or property of an adopter.

Step 3

CHS is diligent in seeking to use all of the resources at hand to affect medical and/or behavioral rehabilitation for a pet who is suffering. Before a pet is considered for euthanasia, one or more of the following steps takes place and is based upon the outcome of the medical and behavioral assessments:

  • Medical treatment that could include dietary changes, drug therapy, surgery or a combination of the foregoing.
  • Foster care placement for medical treatment and/or behavioral rehabilitation.
  • Participation in CHS enrichment programs that provide mental and physical stimulation.
  • Participation in CHS dog training programs that provide positive behavioral input.
  • Outreach to rescue groups that may be better equipped to handle the medical and/or behavioral needs of the animal in question.
  • In the event that a pet has bitten a human or another animal, a CHS veterinarian will evaluate the incident, taking into account vaccination status, whether the bite was provoked or unprovoked, the presence or absence of neurological signs, and all state and federal regulations regarding rabies. The District Manager and Behavior Technician will be consulted as needed. Under restricted circumstances and if possible, a rescue group specializing in the placement of these types of pets or a barn (barn is for felines only) will be sought for placement of the pet.

Step 4

Once the appropriate resources are exhausted the consideration of euthanasia will occur.

Euthanasia for medical reasons is determined by a veterinarian.

Euthanasia for behavioral reasons is determined by the Review Committee. The committee is made up of a team of individuals who represent several aspects of shelter management and expertise.

Cases will be discussed in detail by these teams and all members must participate. Each pet will be presented formally by a detailed history and a list of medical or behavioral concerns. All team participants will have recently interacted with the pet being discussed in order to provide the most up-to-date information on behavioral status.