Vet employs unsettling method of euthanasia - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Reported by Janice Broach

Vet employs unsettling method of euthanasia

If you've had to have your dog or cat euthanized, your veterinarian likely made it as painless as possible.

Most animal shelters, like the one in Bartlett, try to do the same thing.

"Here at the shelter, it's always sedate and administered intravenously as painless as possible," said Angela Klein of the Bartlett Animal Shelter.

But for some animals, it's a different kind of death.

This undercover obtained by Action News 5's Nashville sister station, WSMV, shows animals being put down behind closed doors at the Sumner County Animal Shelter.

On one tape, a dog with his tail wagging is pulled up, and with no sedation, a lethal injection is administered directly into his heart.  The dog died within minutes.  The process is called a "heart shot," and it happens again and again on the tape. The same procedure is used on cats.

Local veterinarian Dr. Charlie Lebel said the practice can be excruciating for an animal.

"I would say it's pretty cruel, because there is a lot of pain associated with that," he said.

Lebel said it can take a painful 30 seconds for the animal to die when given a "heart shot."

The undercover video shows animals at times being brought into the shelter at a rate of one per minute.  In a single day, 60 animals were euthanized.

Lebel said it is possible a vet can miss the animal's heart when the death sentence is administered so quickly, with an unsedated animal that is moving around.

"It would take very long time," he said. "It would take upwards of five to ten minutes if you do die, and it would be excruciating...excruciating the whole time."

Click here to send an email to Janice Broach.

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