Euthanasia Reference Manual Consciousness: When conscious, an animal has the ability to deliberately and intentionally respond to environmental stimuli. Unconsciousness: When rendered unconscious, the animal lacks awareness and the capacity for sensory perception, appearing to be in a deep sleep. Tranquilization: When tranquilized, the animal usually is calm and relaxed, and he may even fall asleep. The animal may still feel pain, however, and a tranquilizer may not offer enough of a calming effect to safely handle a fractious animal. Tranquilized animals may also suffer seizures, and can be more unpredictable. Sedation: When sedated, the animal falls into a sleep-like state and becomes uncoordinated, with relaxed and unresponsive muscles. There is often a decreased ability to feel pain, but pain sensations are still possible. Sedated animals may appear to be sleeping but may quickly become aroused when stimulated by light or sound and cause harm to themselves and the humans around them. Immobilization: When immobilized, the animal is essentially paralyzed and unable to move. However, while the animal appears to be unresponsive to sight and sound, he may still feel deep pain and may actually be experiencing fear and panic as he remains aware of his surroundings. For this reason, immobilizing agents are never appropriate for use in euthanasia. Analgesia: Drugs that have an analgesic effect are intended to diminish an animal’s ability to perceive pain, although not all drugs can extinguish pain completely. Moreover, just because a drug has an analgesic effect does not mean that it causes unconsciousness in the animal. Therefore, the ideal pre-euthanasia drug is both an analgesic and an anesthetic. Anesthetic: When an anesthetic agent has been administered, the animal is ideally rendered unconscious, has a total loss of ability to feel pain (analgesia), and is immobilized, yet her vital functions (breathing and heartbeat) are retained. For this reason, the ideal pre-euthanasia drugs are anesthetics that, when used at proper dosages, achieve all of these ideals. Sodium pentobarbital, when combined with phenytoin sodium, however (under trade names like Euthasol, Beuthansia, and Euthanasia III), the drug loses its properties as an addictive substance Stages: Stage I: Voluntary Excitement: Goes through heart to the cerebral cortex he or she may become increasingly sensitive to noise, touch, and other stimuli Stage II: Involuntary Excitement. Affects cerebrum, frequently causes uncontrolled motor activity like paddling of the legs and vocalizations; the animal is completely unconscious and not suffering. Stage III: Surgical Anesthesia. affects cerebellum, the animal can feel no pain at all and does not respond to visual or auditory stimuli, and reflexes (including eye blink and toe-pinch) begin to disappear. Stage IV: Medullary Paralysis. Affects brain stem (medulla oblongata). stops the animal from breathing in oxygen and circulating blood usually within just 40 seconds after injection directly into a vein. Euthanasia is not complete until death has been verified Administration Types: IV (intravenous, injection of drug directly into a vein), IP (intraperitoneal, injection of the drug into the abdominal cavity), IC (intracardiac, injection of the drug directly into the heart) PO (per os, oral administration of the drug). Steps for Verifying Death First: Ensure that the animal has neither a blink reflex nor a toe pinch reflex. Second: Use a stethoscope to verify that respiration has stopped. Third: Perform a cardiac stick or verify the onset of rigor mortis. “After Care”: It is unacceptable for any person to treat an animal’s body after death with any less care and reverence as would have been given while the animal was alive. A euthanasia technician who disrespects the body of an animal is likely suffering from burnout, or compassion fatigue. Retraining and counseling interventions should be undertaken, and serious consideration should be given to whether that person should be permitted to continue working with animals at all. Euthanasia policy should include: • Criteria for euthanasia. • Procedure for recommendation and approval of euthanasia decisions. • Verification procedures ensuring proper animal is euthanized, including assurances that: › the proper signatures and approvals have been obtained. › the animal’s minimum hold date has expired or a documented exception to the minimum hold time has been obtained. › the description and identification numbers of the animal ready for euthanasia match the approval paperwork exactly. › the animal has no adoption, possible owner or other hold in place. › the animal has no evidence of ownership (no tattoo, microchip, or lost report). • Statement regarding who is permitted to perform euthanasia. • Statement regarding who will be permitted to be present in the euthanasia room • Procedures for performing euthanasia. • Procedures for verification of death. • Procedures for proper disposal of remains. • Procedures for drug handling and storage. • Emergency procedures, staff safety protocols and applicable personal protective equipment required. • Procedures for record-keeping and administrative compliance (for example, every facility managing controlled substances must keep logs detailing the date of euthanasia, weight and breed of animal, volume of drugs used, and technician’s initials, and this log must be updated as each animal is euthanized). General Hazards: Most environmental injuries are inadequate safety measures, vague procedures, or human error. · A good way to minimize is to provide staff with adequate time to accomplish their tasks.