I walked away from rounds today feeling kind of raw and annoyed, and I'm trying to get it out of my brain in a coherent, nonjudgmental way. First of all, I love the clinician in charge of our emergency rotation and rounds. She's a very nice, helpful and instructive person. But tonight during rounds she said something that kind of got my back up a bit.
We were discussing euthanasia and situations where it would be appropriate to not put in a catheter and administer sedatives before the euthanasia solution. Fractious/aggressive animals, severe respiratory distress cats, bleeding risks, etc. were all brought up. But then one of my group mates said, "Exotics and small animals." Now, I agree about the catheter but I strongly disagree about not offering sedation for those patients, so I said so and gave an anecdote about how I was very unhappy with the euthanasia experience with my four rats, watching them struggle and fight the inhalant anesthesia with no pre-meds.
The clinician then said, "Well, exotic euthanasias are always going to be bad and I wouldn't let an owner back there to watch."
She undermined the exact point I was trying to make, and I felt sort of dismissed. I was trying to point out that owners of exotic pets want just as good of treatment for their snake/lizard/rodent/ferret as the owner of a shih tzu. We don't appreciate our animals being treated as something apart from "normal" pets. And I definitely didn't appreciate hearing her write off exotic euthanasias as "difficult" as though we shouldn't even try to make improvements so that the experience is less stressful. And then to go a step further and write off the client as just simply not allowed to be with their pet and see them out of this world... I was kind of flabberghasted, to be honest.
I've heard of exotic animals being given an IM injection of sedative and their owners sitting in a dim, quiet room for 15-20 minutes until the animal is sufficiently calm enough to take gas anesthetic without a struggle. Yes, that eats up time for your clinic where you could be taking other appointments. But it should say something to you that the owner of a $5 gerbil is willing to pay the additional expense for the injection and spend a half hour sitting alone in a dark room talking to and kissing and saying goodbye to their pet. These aren't cases you get to just dismiss as "difficult" and take in the back while the owner sobs their heart out in the parking lot. That is just lazy and not the best standard of care we can offer.