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Dignity in Death: Our Role in Wildlife Euthanasia Patrice N. Klein, MS VMD DACPV DACVPM Veterinary Consultant Second Chance Wildlife Center, Gaithersburg, MD A Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Code of Ethics NWRA-IWRC Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation 2000

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dignity in death our role in wildlife euthanasia

Dignity in Death: Our Role in Wildlife Euthanasia

Patrice N. Klein, MS VMD DACPV DACVPM

Veterinary Consultant

Second Chance Wildlife Center, Gaithersburg, MD

slide2
A Wildlife Rehabilitator’s Code of EthicsNWRA-IWRC Minimum Standards for Wildlife Rehabilitation 2000
  • “A wildlife rehabilitator should strive to provide professional and humane care in all phases of wildlife rehabilitation, respecting wildness and maintaining the dignity of each animal in life and in death. Releasable animals should be maintained in a wild condition and released as soon as appropriate.”
  • “Non-releasable animals that are inappropriate for education, foster-parenting, or captive breeding have a right to euthanasia.”
responsibilities
Responsibilities
  • Welfare of the animals
  • Needs of the patient
  • Release to the wild
  • Non-release options
life and death decisions
Life and Death Decisions
  • The essential role of the wildlife rehabilitator is as an advocate for wildlife in their care
  • We ensure that they are treated humanely
  • We ensure their right to euthanasia if that is more humane than attempting treatment
  • A captive life can be so diminished in quality that its maintenance would be an act of cruelty
  • Euthanasia is a compassionate, moral alternative
impacts
Impacts
  • We lose our ability to help when:
    • Exhausted, overwhelmed trying to save every animal
    • Money, Staffing, Time are limiting resources
  • We should:
    • Direct our efforts to save animals with the best chance for return to the wild
    • Provide other animals with a dignified, humane death
  • We are the caretakers and advocates for wildlife
  • We educate and influence the public on wildlife conservation and habitat preservation
we need to understand
We Need to Understand….
  • Why we should perform euthanasia
  • When it is the best course of action
  • How to do it humanely
the quality of life for wildlife
The Quality of Life for Wildlife
  • Freedom
  • Independence
  • Ability to make choices
  • Availability of shelter and refuge
  • Potential to reproduce and evolve
  • Restoration of liberty if potentially lost by injury, disease, orphaning, displacement
criteria for release
Criteria for Release
  • Age and health
  • Physical capability
  • Survival skills
    • Food, hunting
    • Shelter, nest building
    • Waterproofing
  • Behavior (tame, habituated, imprinted)
  • Release location and habitat
  • Season (climate, temperature, migration)
what about non releasable animals
What about Non-releasable Animals?
  • Considerations for permanent placement
    • Type and quality of the facility
    • Temperament of the animal
    • Rarity of species
  • Essential needs of wild animals in captivity
    • Psychological health
    • Physical comfort
    • Security
    • Proper diet
    • Companionship
wild animals that should not be released
Wild Animals That Should Not Be Released
  • Visual impairment in both eyes (blind)
  • Impaired use in two or more legs
  • Birds with partial/complete amputation of a leg
  • Birds that cannot fly
  • Turtles with critical shell loss/ dysfunction
  • Tamed, habituated, imprinted
  • Carriers of non-endemic diseases
criteria for electing euthanasia
Criteria for Electing Euthanasia
  • Will the animal be able to sustain a normal life in the wild with others of its own species?
  • Does suitable habitat exist in which to release the animal once it has recovered?
  • In captivity, will the animal have proper housing, nutrition, and stimulation to ensure its physical and psychological well-being?
practical considerations
Practical Considerations
  • Who will perform the euthanasia?
  • What techniques will be used?
  • How will the carcasses be disposed?
definitions
Definitions
  • Euthanasia
    • the act of inducing a painless death.
    • (Gk) “eu” good and “thanatos” death
  • Implicit in the definition of euthanasia is the needed control over the animal and its experience during the process of euthanasia
the concepts of pain
The Concepts of Pain
  • Pain:the sensation (perception) resulting from nerve impulses reaching the cerebral cortex (brain) via specific nociceptive neural pathways triggered by noxious stimuli.
  • Nociceptive: from noci “to injure” and ceptive “to receive”
  • Noxious stimuli: temperature, pressure, chemicals, trauma which may and do destroy tissues.
  • To experience pain, the cerebral cortex and subcortical structures in the brain must be functional.
the concepts of stress
The Concepts of Stress
  • Stress is caused by the effect of physical, physiological, and psychological factors (stressors) that induce an alteration in homeostasis or the adaptive state.
  • Response varies according to species, breed, age, health status.
  • Response is an adaptive process to restore homeostasis
  • Distress results when the response to stressors causes harmful effects to the well-being of the animal.
general criteria for euthanasia methods
General Criteria for Euthanasia Methods
  • Rapid unconsciousness and rapid death
  • Minimized pain, distress, and anxiety
  • Minimized movements
  • Rapid, reliable, irreversible cardiac and respiratory arrest
  • Compatibility with species, age, health status
  • Compatibility with requirement, purpose, and subsequent evaluation/use of tissues
  • Predator/ scavenger safety (if carcass consumed)
  • Personnel safety and emotional impact
  • Drug availability/human abuse potential
  • Maintenance of equipment
basic mechanisms of actions
Basic Mechanisms of Actions
  • Hypoxia: muscle paralytic agents are not acceptable as sole agents for euthanasia
    • SuccinylcholineStrychnineNicotine
    • Curare Gallimine K+ or Mg+ salts
  • Depression of vital neurons: (+/- excitatory phase)
    • Barbituates CO2 / CO
    • Inhalant anesthetics Tricaine methanesulfonate (MS-222)
  • Physical disruption/ destruction of brain activity
    • Gunshot Penetrating captive bolt
    • Cervical dislocation Decapitation
potassium chloride in conjunction with prior general anesthesia
Potassium chloride in Conjunction with Prior General Anesthesia
  • Potassium chloride (KCl) administered IV or IC AFTER animal is under surgical plane of anesthesia.
  • Rapid cardiotoxic effect (1-2 mmol/kg BW)
  • Safe for predators/scavengers that may consume carcasses… but what about anesthetic residue?
  • Inexpensive and not a controlled substance
  • Muscle spasms may occur briefly after injection
barbituates
Advantages

Rapid unconsciousness without pain, distress

Rapid and irreversible depression of CNS, cardiac, and respiratory functions

Works well in many species

Disadvantages

DEA-Controlled substance

Licensed veterinarians

IV, IP routes

IC only in unconscious animal

Carcasses must be disposed properly, NO consumption

Barbituates
inhalant anesthetics halothane isoflurane sevoflurane
Advantages

Rapid unconsciousness

Direct depression of CNS

Veterinary prescription

Relatively inexpensive

Disadvantages

Species, age, health limits

Resistance to effects in the young, the old, and with respiratory impairment

May be reversible

Proper ventilation required for personnel safety

May need second method to ensure death

Inhalant anesthetics(halothane, isoflurane, sevoflurane)
inhalant gases carbon dioxide co2
Advantages

Moderately rapid loss of consciousness

Direct depression of CNS, resp. and cardiac functions

Inexpensive

Compressed gas cylinders

No accumulation in tissues

Disadvantages

Species, age, health limits

Aquatic animals, neonates, debilitated animals more resistant to CO2 levels

Small birds/mammals (<7 kg)

Reptiles/amphibians breathe too slowly for CO2

Irritant to respiratory mucosa (carbonic acid)

Inhalant Gases(Carbon Dioxide/ CO2)
slide25

YES

NO

inhalant gases carbon monoxide co
Advantages

Rapid unconsciousness and death at 4-6% CO concs.

Direct depression of CNS, resp. and cardiac functions

Binds irreversibly to RBC hemoglobin  hypoxemia

Compressed gas cylinders

Commercial chambers ($$)

Disadvantages

Very hazardous- gas is odorless and tasteless; 0.4% lethal for humans

OSHA regulations

Small mammals use

Inhalant Gases(Carbon Monoxide/ CO)
tricaine methane sulfonate ms 222
Advantages

Used in aquatic tanks for amphibians and fish

Moderately rapid loss of consciousness and death at proper exposure concentration

>250 mg/L solution, continue exposure >10 minutes after movement cessation

Disadvantages

21-day withdrawal time, not for use in food animal

Anesthesia only at lower concentrations: reversible

Moderately expensive

Proper storage conditions

Tricaine methane sulfonate (MS-222)
gunshot to the brain
Advantages

Rapid unconsciousness and death with proper use

Direct destruction of brain tissue with proper use

Must know anatomy!

Field emergency use

Carcasses may be consumed

Disadvantages

Personnel safety

Firearm permits

Government ordinances

Maintenance of skill and proficiency required

Animal restraint needed for accuracy

RVS testing constraints

Gunshot to the Brain
penetrating captive bolt
Advantages

Rapid unconsciousness and death with proper use

Direct destruction of brain tissue with proper use

Must know anatomy!

Carcasses may be consumed

Disadvantages

Maintenance of skill and proficiency required

May require firearm permits

Animal restraint for accuracy

Maintenance of equipment

Penetrating Captive Bolt
cervical dislocation
Advantages

Moderately rapid loss of consciousness and death

Severs spinal cord and ascending pain pathways to brain

Carcasses may be consumed

No special equipment needed

Must know anatomy!

Disadvantages

Mastery of technical skill and proficiency required

Use limited to small birds and small rodents (<200 gm)

Prior sedation recommended

Residual brain electrical activity (13-14 secs) ???

Must know anatomy!

Cervical Dislocation
decapitation
Advantages

Rapid unconsciousness and death

Severs spinal cord and ascending pain pathways to brain

Carcasses may be consumed

Disadvantages

Handling/ restraint may be distressful to animals

Personnel safety/ injury

Prior sedation recommended

Residual brain electrical activity (13-14 secs) ???

Maintenance of equipment

Decapitation
adjunctive methods
Adjunctive Methods

NOT AS SOLE METHODS FOR EUTHANASIA

Must be used with another method to ensure humane death

  • Stunning
    • Blunt force trauma
    • Non-penetrating captive bolt
    • Electrical stunning
  • Neuromuscular blocking agents
  • Pithing
  • Exsanguination
unacceptable methods
Unacceptable Methods
  • Neuromuscular blocking agents (alone)
  • Drowning
  • Freezing
  • Thoracic compression
  • Acetone
    • dimethyl ketone
    • “Nighty-nite”
  • Air embolism
slide37

O2

CO2

summary of euthanasia methods
Birds

Sodium Pentobarbital

Isoflurane, sevoflurane

CO2 (+/- prior sedation)

Anesthesia followed by cervical dislocation

Reptiles

Sodium pentobarbital

Isoflurane, sevoflurane

Anesthesia (inj.)followed by destruction of brain function (pithing, decapitation)

Time to lethal effect of a chemical method may be prolonged and may require use of a secondary method to ensure death.

Summary of Euthanasia Methods
summary of euthanasia methods39
Rodents, Bats, and Small Mammals

Sodium pentobarbital

Prior sedation may be required for restraint

Isoflurane, sevoflurane

Anesthesia followed by cervical dislocation

Hoofstock (deer)

Sodium pentobarbital

Prior chemical or physical immobilization required for restraint

Gunshot to the brain

Penetrating captive bolt

Summary of Euthanasia Methods
additional information
Additional Information
  • AVMA: www.avma.org
    • 2007 AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia
  • AAZV: www.aazv.org
    • Guidelines for Euthanasia of Nondomestic Animals, 2006
  • Animal Welfare Institute, NAL/USDA: www.nal.usda.gov
  • UFAW: www.ufaw.org.uk
  • HSUS: www.hsus.org
  • AHA: www.american-humane.org
  • USFWS Regional Permit Offices: www.usfws.gov
  • OSHA: www.osha.gov
questions
Questions?

Patrice.N.Klein@aphis.usda.gov

patriceklein@hotmail.com

(W) 301-734-0738