A staggering 98 per cent of companion animal vets have been asked at least once to euthanase a healthy pet, according to the British Veterinary Association (BVA).
The figures, obtained through BVA’s Voice of the Veterinary Profession survey, also show that being asked to put a healthy pet to sleep is not a rare occurrence for about half the vets - and the vast majority cited the pet's behaviour as their owner's reason for the request. Some of the behavioural problems cited were “persistent barking and howling, destructive chewing and inappropriate toileting”, as well as aggressive behaviour – all likely outcomes of poor socialisation and early training.
Senior Vice President of the British Veterinary Association Sean Wensley said, “These figures are stark and are likely to come as a shock to members of the public. But this is the sad reality of a failure to socialise animals from the earliest possible age – a specific time in a puppy’s development, which has a significant impact on their future temperament and behaviour.
“With dogs, this process starts from before a puppy is even seen by a potential owner. In recent months there has been a litany of news stories about the illegal importation, breeding and trading of puppies through puppy farms. This is no way for a family pet to start life and we urge potential owners to thoroughly research where a puppy has been born and reared, using the AWF/RSPCA Puppy Contract to help. Then, in the first year of ownership, and especially in the first few weeks, work with your local veterinary practice to ensure your puppy is introduced to everyday sights and sounds, including other people and animals, in a safe and structured way.”
Other reasons for requesting euthanasia on their healthy pet included poor health of the owner (48 per cent), owners moving to an unsuitable accommodation (39 per cent), and legal enforcement reasons (32 per cent).