Evaluating Post-euthanasia Emotional Trauma Caused by Improper Veterinary Practices

This case study examines a distressing incident where an individual was presented with their decapitated pet cat post-euthanasia, leading to allegations of negligence against the animal hospital.

ByExpert Institute


Published on February 6, 2024

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Case Overview

The purpose of this case study is to explore a distressing incident involving an individual who suffered significant mental anguish following the euthanization of their pet cat at an animal hospital.

During the cat’s final moments, it bit a veterinary technician, necessitating a rabies test requiring brain tissue samples. Although the plaintiff was informed about this requirement, they were later presented with their decapitated pet without any prior warning or preparation.

As a result of this shocking experience, the animal hospital was accused of negligence involving its post-euthanasia procedures and communication practices with pet owners.

Questions to the Veterinary Medicine expert and their responses


Please describe your professional background in veterinary medicine.

I am an emergency veterinarian with ten years’ experience. My practice has performed numerous euthanasia procedures, some involving a pet biting before being deceased.


What are the standard procedures for presenting a pet's body to its owner following euthanasia?

After euthanasia, it is standard procedure to prepare the deceased pet so it appears to be sleeping peacefully. Many clients prefer to stay with their pets during this difficult time, offering comfort and saying goodbye in a serene environment.


What is the standard procedure for rabies testing post-euthanasia?

For rabies testing, it is indeed standard practice to remove the deceased animal’s head. However, this process typically occurs after the euthanasia procedure and once the client has had time to visit their pet’s body.

About the expert

This expert has over a decade of experience in veterinary medicine, with an educational background that includes a BS in pre-veterinary medicine and a DVM. Their professional journey spans various medical centers where they served as a veterinarian, gaining diverse experiences and honing their skills. Currently, this expert operates as an independent relief veterinarian, offering their expertise to multiple practices.

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