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When euthanasia is an option : the experience of making end-of-life decisions for companion animals Horn, Laurel

Abstract

It's only a dog! You should just get another cat. You waited too long to take him to the vet as it is. These are some of the common attitudes and reactions that pet owners must often contend with when their companion animals die. Though they may be trying to be understanding and supportive, it is often difficult for people who have not experienced the death of a companion animal to understand the potential significance of such a loss. The present study explores one of the factors that often complicates and makes the death of a companion animal especially difficult: the possibility and expectation of euthanasia. What is it like to make life and death decisions for companion animals? What thoughts and feelings are experienced in the decision making process? What is it like after the animal dies as a result of euthanasia? These questions are the focus of this study. The study focuses on the experiences of eight companion animal owners and utilizes a case study design. Information was gathered through interviews and researcher observations. Each case is presented individually and themes and a general discussion of the cases are also included.

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