by Drs Adrienne Otto and David Turoff
June 25th 2012
Today, we worked in a church yard, with plenty of shade and a handy latrine. The team had visited this community In past years, and enjoyed the opportunity for ‘follow-up, particularly the dental cases which had required major intervention in the past.
We castrated a six-month old colt, and, as it was not a particularly frantic day, were able to spend a bit of time actually working with some of your younger, untrained patients, thus avoiding the far too common lasso/rodeo scenario.
The end of the day presented a particularly uncomfortable dilemma. Earlier in the day we had come upon a mare with a complete proximal fracture of a rear cannon bone, valiantly attempting to remain on her feet and forage. Several hours later, not only had she not been dealt with by a potential owner, but she had become recumbent. Though still alert, it was clear that the dusty road-side would be her final resting place.
We unanimously concluded that the only humane way to deal with
this was to dispatch her as efficiently as possible. After anesthetizing her with I.V. xylazine and ketamine, her descending aorta was transected per rectum and she was allowed to pass quietly. Although several people passed by while we were ‘examining’ our patient, ownership was not established, and importantly, the carcass presented minimal environmental hazard (as would a classical euthanasia using barbiturates) and the actual cause of death was grossly undeterminable.
Euthanasia in this part of the world is a conundrum generally, frequently indicated by our standards, and rarely permitted. The most common attitude is that the death of an animal for humane reasons is best left to divine intervention. It is always subject to the limitations environmental contamination, with respect to which gunshot-induced would be ideal, but rarely feasible. Two other acceptable options are as described above, or to administer IV a concentrated solution of magnesium sulfate (Epsom salt), following xyl/ket anesthesia.