Did You See This Headline Recently?

Posted: Jul 25, 2012
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NYC veterinarian busted for allegedly dumping dead pets along road.

Full disclosure – I don’t know all of details. I am willing to presume innocence until proven guilty. This headline mostly made me think about what truly is the definition of “respectful” when it comes to handling our clients’ diseased pets? I live near the end of a dead-end, not-very-well-maintained county road. This equates to several carcass dumps every year.

When hunters dump the gut pile and hide in the middle of my turn-around, I put on my gloves and drag whatever I can into the trees so that Mother Nature can start her recycling. When someone dumped three large, bloated sheep (think 200-300 pound Suffolks), I called the county because frankly that is too big of a mess for one person. But when I go for a walk with my dogs and come across someone’s black lab or Heinz variety tossed unceremoniously into the ditch, I am moved to do something different.

We have, so far, five extra pets buried in our lower pasture. Some were in pristine shape, aside from being dead of course, and they made me wonder what had happened to them to end up in front of a logging gate on a lonely road. Some were clearly HBC cases that looked like it had been quick. Not HBC at the scene, as you cannot drive fast enough or far enough at the end of the road to do that kind of damage, but HBC somewhere else. One was so far down nature’s reclamation highway that I used a shovel to pour him into my potato sack. He didn’t get to be buried with his full compliment of ribs or legs, but like the others he got a couple of milk bones to fuel his travels to the Rainbow bridge or wherever it is he was headed.

Does it count that I gave them a “respectful” burial, even though they had first been tossed like a beer can at the end of the road? Maybe some of the owners thought they were simply returning their dogs to nature. To these folks I would suggest they take the time to carry the pet farther into the woods. Maybe they are all dumped there by people who didn’t know the dog but were saddled with a dead animal and didn’t want to pay the fee to take it to the local landfill (about $12 for a dog in my area). Maybe some of these animals had already had a “ceremony” somewhere else and it was just my assumption that handling a pet “respectfully” after death includes the final resting place of the body.

I am by no means suggesting that every animal needs to be cremated or buried privately in order to be properly respected. But I am wondering where I fall in the inevitable spectrum of values. Do any of you scoop up something dead that you felt was not honored? Does the species matter? If I have to dispose of a dead mole from my lawn, I have no problem tossing him deep in the woods, but I would feel uncomfortable putting that same dead mole into my garbage can. Does that make me fickle? Am I less of a veterinarian because I killed the mole in a trap in the first place?