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Euthanasia policy

It is the vision of the Equihab Foundation to end suffering of animals in our community.  We accomplish that through our mission statement: Our mission is to prevent cruelty to equines, through: direct intervention and sheltering of horses in need, public & owner education, and community outreach programs.

Euthanasia of adoptable animals in our program will be avoided whenever possible.  This is accomplished by actively promoting to find these animals suitable forever homes.   They will remain safely in our care, for as long as it takes, to find them homes.  Or they may be transferred to another approved, no-kill organization with similar policies.

Euthanasia of adoptable animals because of “lack of space” is not a viable option. The Equihab Foundation adheres to the policies of a “NO-KILL” shelter.   Equihab does NOT send equines to auction, commercial dealer, shipment to slaughter, brokers, or any other un-traceable outlet.    To ensure the animal is traceable throughout his life-time, all equines are micro-chipped and the chip number is registered with a 3rd party database such as AVID HorseTrac.

Equines who are suffering physically, mentally, or emotionally on a severe or chronic basis may be candidates for euthanasia.   Euthanasia is to be considered only after reasonable and appropriate exploration of all other viable options. It is never a decision that is made without utmost consideration for what is best for the animals.

A candidate for euthanasia may be an equine which has:  poor prognosis, painful protracted recovery, incurable serious illness; or an equine that is non-responsive to treatment; or one for whom treatment is not reasonably available.    Equines deemed to pose an unacceptable and serious danger to other animals, themselves, or the public may be candidates for euthanasia.    The euthanasia process is initiated by the Program Director, based on input and discussion from relevant sources: foster home,  veterinarian, trainer, farrier, or others involved in the equine’s evaluation.

Euthanasia Protocol

Medically necessitated euthanasia:

Euthanasia is considered for animals suffering from an acute or chronic illness.  Quality of life and the best interest of the equine is the number one concern.    Euthanasia is may be requested for an injured animal who is not a candidate for treatment or whose injuries are not treatable.

Emergency euthanasia, such as severe break of a long bone, may be initiated on the judgement of the Program Director.   In the interest of preventing severe ongoing suffering, full Board of Directors approval will not be required.

Examples of conditions which may necessitate euthanasia are:  organ failure, stroke, inability to stand up despite handler’s efforts to assist, severe neurological conditions (eg. untreatable EPM), fracture of bones especially long-bones, progressive later stages of arthritis affecting quality of life, any untreatable condition that impairs the equine from walking to his food/hay/herd, certain congenitial abnormalities or defects (eg. HERDA), or any other serious/chronic illness with a poor prognosis or not reasonable responsive to treatment.   Quality of life & risk to the health of the other animals and humans will be considered in the decision.

Behaviorally necessitated euthanasia

A request due to behavioral reasons may be generated by a concern the animals poses an unmanageable threat to staff, public safety, or to other animals; or for a concern for the quality of life the animal is likely to achieve when behavior modification regiment cannot lessen the equine’s severe distress.     Professional training, environmental modification, veterinarian-prescribed medications, hormone treatment, or any other reasonable avenues will be explored before this animal is deemed a candidate for euthanasia.

Examples of conditions which might require euthanasia are:  a blind horse who is not adapting well to his new surrounding and posing a danger to himself or others, an equine so un-manageable he cannot be cannot be caught or handled even by a professional especially when he has a medical condition that needs treatment, an equine with a history of seriously intentionally injuring other people and with whom re-training has failed, or an elderly horse who is not adapting well to the loss of her herdmate & who refuses to eat or move despite all efforts to help her.

PROCEDURE upon decision to euthanasia

Once all reasonable efforts have been exhausted, the euthanasia is authorized through the Board of Directors (unless an emergency, as outlined above).      Depending on the health & condition of the equine, it may be done on or off farm.    Should the equine be transported for this purpose, the trailer ride should be short and comfortable, and done only in an safe, equine-approved trailer.

All animals will be given:

  • A quiet, comfortable shelter to rest.   Food and treats, as prescribed by staff.
  • When appropriate, the equine will receive visits from staff & volunteers.
  • When appropriate, staff will spend quality time with the animal.  This may involve giving the animal extra grooming, a walk in nice grass, or other rewarding activity the animal may enjoy.
  • Comfort measures such as  pain control and sedation may be administered, as prescribed by staff or veterinarian.

The euthanasia process will be conducted in a manner humane and respectful to the animal.    Euthanasia is performed in accordance with AVMA guidelines.   After euthanasia is completed, the animal will continue to be handled in an appropriate & respectful manner.

The captive bolt gun is not an acceptable method to perform euthanasia on an equine and shall never be used.