We recognise that the subject of euthanasia is an emotional, and at times, extremely difficult subject. In line with our values we also recognise that the subject requires open and honest discussion to maintain transparency and objectivity.

Hope Rescue will not euthanise due to time or space constraints, reserving euthanasia for animals that are suffering mentally or physically, are terminally ill and where palliative care is no longer a welfare option, or are considered dangerous to themselves, other animals, and/or humans.

It should be noted that Hope Rescue works with other rescues and regularly places dogs with them. This is stated very clearly in our Surrender Assessment Form and we reserve the right to move any dogs in our care on to other rescues. While we will not disclose which rescues the dogs have moved to, they are largely rescues that do not have a non-destruct policy, and have a similar Euthanasia Policy to ours.

When we will consider euthanasia

Factors contributing to the euthanasia of any animal include quality of life, and risk to the health and safety of other pets, people and to the animal itself. Euthanasia may be considered at Hope Rescue in the following circumstances:

1. Deteriorating medical or behavioural condition that is causing suffering to an animal.

We will do everything possible within our resources to properly treat an animal and manage its medical condition to live a comfortable and safe life. However, in consultation with a vet, we may determine that an animal is suffering from medical conditions (including both physical and mental health) that are not able to be treated to maintain a comfortable and good quality of life.

2. Behaviours that are beyond management that are deemed unsafe to other pets, people, and to itself.

We work with a number of suitably qualified behaviourists, including staff members, to rehabilitate animals with behavioural issues where possible. However, there will be instances where an animal is deemed an unacceptable risk or threat to the public, other pets or itself and in these cases, euthanasia will be considered in consultation with a qualified behaviourist.

How the decision to euthanise an animal is reached

Each animal admitted into Hope Rescue will undergo an initial evaluation, either in kennels or a foster home. Throughout their stay with us they will be evaluated continuously for medical and behavioural considerations to help identify animals that:

  • are suffering mentally, emotionally or physically.
  • have a poor prognosis, protracted painful recovery, incurable illness, and/or are non-responsive to treatment
  • are deemed to pose an unacceptable danger or threat to other animals, themselves or the public.
  • have a condition that, in isolation, may not necessitate euthanasia, but that contributes to escalate other conditions that, in total, warrant euthanasia.

Reaching a decision

In order to reach a decision as to whether an animal should be euthanised a number of processes and steps are taken to ensure the decision is objective, balanced and within the stated criteria:

1. Deteriorating medical or behavioural condition that is causing suffering to an animal.

Animals that are deemed to be suffering from a mental or physical illness or injury must be evaluated by a vet prior to any decision being taken.  The Head of Welfare and Adoption must be informed and consultation with the kennel staff or foster home must take place to establish all facts and information on how the dog became ill or injured and/ or how the decline in health has occurred. A decision will then be taken by the Head of Welfare and Adoption.

2. Behaviours that are beyond management that are deemed unsafe to other pets, people, and to itself.

If it is considered that an animal potentially poses an unacceptable danger or threat to other pets, people or itself, the Head of Welfare and Adoption will assess the animal. However, in extreme cases, for example where a significant injury to a person has been caused, immediate euthanasia may be sought without further assessment, on the advice of the Head of Welfare and Adoption.

The kennel staff or foster home will be consulted on the outcome of the assessment to determine if the behaviour is beyond management. When making a determination a range of available options should be considered for management including:

  • Potential for rehabilitation and behaviour modification programme
  • Suitability and likelihood of placement at an approved specialist rescue/rehabilitation centre

Given the sensitivity of euthanasia and our requirement to maintain transparency and objectivity, the euthanasia of any animal must be formally approved by the Head of Welfare and Adoption and the Transformation Manager. A Welfare and Adoption Officer may deputise for either of these staff members if they are unavailable.

How euthanasia is carried out

Euthanasia must be carried out by a veterinary surgeon using an approved humane method in accordance with our Standard Operating Procedure for euthanasia.

Any decision to euthanise and the reasons for the decision, including consideration of options, must be recorded on the animal’s record. All euthanasia figures will be reported to the Board of Trustees and disclosed in our Annual Report for transparency.