This post was originally published on September 10, 2018, and was updated on January 20, 2020.
There are few thoughts as sickening as imagining your pet in a scenario where they’re vulnerable, scared and alone.
We’d like to think our pets know they’re loved always, and know we’ll do whatever is necessary to protect them and make them feel safe.
But according to a post that recently went viral, there’s one moment in particular where humans fail.
In July, a woman named Jessi Dietrich wrote on Twitter, “asked my vet what the hardest part was about his job & he said when he has to put an animal down 90% of owners don’t actually want to be in the room when he injects them so the animal’s last moments are usually them frantically looking around for their owners”.
“That broke me,” she said.
In response, Hillcrest Veterinary Hospital – a clinic in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa – shared a similar sentiment in August.
The post, signed a "tired broken-hearted vet", had a message for pet owners when it comes time to "take your pet to the vet's office for a humane pain free ending".
"I beg you DO NOT LEAVE THEM. Do not make them transition from life to death in a room of strangers in a place they don't like. The thing people need to know that most of you don't is that THEY SEARCH FOR YOU WHEN YOU LEAVE THEM BEHIND!!!!!
"They search every face in the room for their beloved person. They don't understand why you left them when they are sick, scared, old or dying from cancer and they need your comfort."
It's likely a time most pet owners try not to think about - their animal's final few moments in a veterinary clinic. For many, the decision to stay or leave is made in the midst of their own distress and grief, when the thought of watching their pet be put to sleep is simply too overwhelming.
In response to the viral post, thousands of vets, shelter workers and pet owners have testified to the sad reality of how pets look for their loved ones before they die.