Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Is It Time? Making End of Life Decisions for Pets

PawheartPets are furry loved ones for many people and families, and like any loved one, you hate to see them in pain. Though you want them to be around as long as possible, sometimes their quality of life can be so low that it is more humane to put them down. The New York Times has provided a scale that is adapted from "Canine and Feline Geriatric Oncology: Honoring the Human-Animal Bond," by Alice Villalobos, D.V.M. If you are able to provide support that improves certain areas of the animal's life, it may be an option to extend your precious time with them.

Pet caregivers can use this Quality of Life Scale to determine whether to continue supportive care for an aging or sick pet or whether euthanasia is a more compassionate option. Move the slider to reflect your pet's score in each category, using a scale of 0 (very poor) to 10 (best). Your score should be based on the pet's quality of life on its own or with whatever level of supportive care works for you.

See Tara Parker-Pope, Is It Time? Making End of Life Decisions for Pets, New York Times, March 19, 2019.

Special thanks to Lewis Saret (Attorney, Washington, D.C.) for bringing this article to my attention.


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I've had to put down two Australian Shepherds. Both were loved members of the family. At one time my vet asked my wife and me this question which stuck in my mind at the end of "Quigley's" life. The vet asked: "Are you keeping your dog alive for you or for him? As painful as that question was we realized we were postponing what needed to be done our of selfishness. Once realized, the decision to put Quigley down was clearly the best for our dog, but no less painful for us.

Posted by: Guy Garner | Apr 1, 2019 8:22:01 AM

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