ECBR is a no-kill rescue, but as with all rescues, there are times where a decision has to be made about end of life. The following is a complete disclosure of the process by which ECBR makes euthanasia decisions.
Content Warning: this information may be upsetting to some readers.
Whenever a dog in our care is euthanized, a record is created that includes information about the reason, as well as information on all board members that were contacted and all professionals that were consulted.
ECBR will NEVER euthanize a dog for shelter space, excessive time in rescue, financial burden, or old age. There are only two reasons that ECBR ever considers euthanasia: medical euthanasia, and behavioral euthanasia. The requirements for each are listed below. In general, ECBR will publicly announce when a dog passes away due to medical issues. ECBR does not typically make announcements about behavioral euthanasia. All dogs in our care are foster dogs that were loved and cared for by a real person. Even after serious incidents, those dogs are loved, cherished, and missed. It is our belief that the dogs should not have to be remembered in a way that is negative. Whenever we lose a dog, we mourn that dog. That being said, we have records and are able to release them on request for individuals who want to know more about our process. Information may be redacted to protect privacy of individuals not directly involved with the rescue who did not consent to their names being made public.
Medical Euthanasia Requirements
Euthanasia has been recommended by at least one veterinarian. When possible, a second opinion should be sought. If one vet is unable to diagnose a problem and a second vet recommends euthanasia, a second opinion is not required. If the situation is emergent, a second opinion is not required.
Every available board member must be contacted prior to medical euthanasia. If there is time, the medical decision-maker should wait until all board members are available prior to making a euthanasia decision. Board members are obligated to make every effort to be available for consult during emergencies.
Behavioral Euthanasia Requirements
The dog has had a serious bite incident with a human or another domestic pet (not to include exotic pets, rodents, or birds), that broke the skin and required medical attention OR the dog had a serious, aggressive, and unprovoked attempted attack on a human that did not result in a serious injury but that human believes the attack placed them in serious imminent danger.
A qualified dog trainer has been consulted and concluded:
for bites that caused injury: that the circumstances surrounding that incident were either unprovoked or caused by underlying true aggression that cannot be safely addressed through training.
for attempted attacks: that the incident was truly unprovoked, caused by true aggression, AND cannot be safely addressed through training.
Intensive training, like board-and-train facilities, would not be safe or effective for this dog.
A qualified veterinarian has been consulted and has ruled out to a reasonable degree of certainty any potential medical cause, including but not limited to adverse reaction to medication and treatable medical conditions like cancer.
The qualified veterinarian agrees to perform euthanasia.
Every member of the board is consulted and unanimously agrees that all options are exhausted and euthanasia is the only course of action. In the event of an emergency, the board must hold a vote affirming the decision at the earliest opportunity. If any Board member dissents, a separate record must be made to note this and that record must be maintained in perpetuity.
Behavioral euthanasia decisions are the sole decision of the Board of Directors. Outside parties other than experts, including injured parties, are not asked to make this difficult choice. However, all statements of victims are shared with dog trainers, veterinarians, and the Board to convey the most accurate picture of the danger during the incident. Therefore, although the Board does not weigh requests to euthanize a dog, the feelings and experiences of victims and witnesses play an important part in the process.