The Big Decision

So after our Facebook post yesterday about Potato we had a couple of people questionning our decision not to have him put to sleep. I thought I’d write a blog on this because it isn’t an easy decision to make and I can’t seem to explain it in just a few short sentences.

Each rescue has their own ethos, and when it comes to decisions about euthanasia you will find that most of them have wavering views. Some believe that any animal /bird unable to return to the wild should immediately be euthanised – others that none should be. Every Feather is neither of these.

We believe that life is important, valuable and before we decide to take one away we have to weight up a number of factors: quality of life, suffering, future etc etc. It is extremely arrogant to think we have the right to decide whether something should live or die – and so the weight of that decision has to be one which requires a lot of consideration. One person commented on the post that Potato required more than a “band aid”. I found that rude. Alot of vets revert to us for treatment plans and even advice. We know what we are doing and we spend a fortune on medication. We also use our vets because they have studied hard and they aren’t as emotionally invested in every life as we are.

Quality of life and suffering are the main two criteria that we look at. Potato has a quality of life – in fact he has a high quality of life in my opinion. He won’t fly, but then pigeons tend to fly to find food and his food will be provided in a large, aviary with other disabled birds and plenty of perches and as natural environment as possible.

When Potato hurt his wing he was probably in a lot of pain. When his wing was dying off he was probably in a lot of pain. He came to us after this had taken place and the wing fell off when we cleaned the area. He displayed normal baby bird behaviour. He wasn’t puffed up, quiet or lethargic. He was desperate for food and squeaking for it.

Euthanasia should always be a huge decision. Sometimes the older the bird the less likely they are to adapt to a change in lifestyle. Some species don’t ever adapt. We look at each case on it’s own merit and we won’t apologise for that. The one thing we won’t do is allow something to be in pain without doing something about it.

To everyone at Every Feather life is sacred, it’s a gift but that doens’t meant that we don’t ever pts. A few weeks ago we had an owl in that had been poorly for some time. It’s face was riddled with fly eggs and maggots. The poor thing was in a terrible state. We got advice from experts who said the kindest thing would be pts in these circumstances. We took to a vet because if they could have done anythign differently they would have – they agreed with pts. It was the right decision in that case but it was still extremely hard to make.

Do the right thing but never be arrogant enough to believe that your opinion on something like life and death is the right one without getting second opinions first. Life is too important not to.

One Christmas we had a gorgeous white pigeon in that couldn’t stand up and had a bad injury. After a few days of hand-feeding my sister asked if there had been any improvement – if there hadn’t then we needed to consider what would be the kindest outcome. The pigeon was still not able to stand but I had seen the slightest of changes in it – this difference in how it held it’s head. I continued to hand feed for almost three weeks before the difference turned into standing up, preening and eating for itself. That pigeon went on to live for another seven years. It had a partner, it had sunbathing and baths in it’s aviary.

Then there was Rex the magpie. He came in one night looking paralysed. It was hard to see if he was even alive apart from this slight flicker of one eye-lid. Again we wondered about taking to the vet and asking what they thought. I did some research though and there was a poison that farmers sometimes use. It paralyses birds like corvids and then the farmer will go looking for any on his land and shoots them. If it was the poison then in 24 hours it would be back on its feet. So we waited…….. the next day my sister went in and Rex was stood on the back of a chair staring at her. Not just moving but had broken out of his box.

Do we ever make the wrong decision? Of course we do. We aren’t all-knowing and sometimes that desperate need to give something a chance can outweigh the right, tough decision.

Always check the stance of a rescue before you take a bird there. I would say never trust one that states “we never pts” because none should be saying that, but also make sure they aren’t going to just pts something that requires a lengthy stay and care to recover. Some rescues don’t want to over-burden themselves with patients who will be there for a long time as it can hinder admissions of other needy patients.

This is sometimes that there will never be a full agreement on and maybe there shouldn’t be – this is about life after all.

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