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Euthanizing wildlife: Experiences and coping strategies among people who conduct euthanasia

von Dietze, E. and Gardner, D. (2014) Euthanizing wildlife: Experiences and coping strategies among people who conduct euthanasia. Pacific Conservation Biology, 20 (1). pp. 28-36.

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Researchers who work with animals commonly face the dilemma of euthanizing some animals. Euthanasia of animals, especially where it concerns pest wildlife or feral species, is often a sensitive and emotive topic and can raise vigorous public debate. However, little is known about the experiences of those who euthanize animals. This study interviewed a number of people about their experiences of animal euthanasia in order to attain a better understanding of any impacts on the person involved in the euthanasia. Participants were mainly researchers, including some no longer working directly with animals and some who provide support services. The participants had a range of experience in wildlife research, and veterinary practices as well as laboratory, farm, and animal shelters. Thematic analysis was used to analyse qualitative interview data. Key emerging themes included the language used to describe euthanasia, the coping strategies that individuals applied, and the organizational factors which could ensure an appropriate context for researchers carrying out euthanasia. Participants reported that social support for emotional stress arising from euthanasia was generally not available. Organizational factors which impacted on participants included decision making processes, availability of training and support, work practices and justifications for euthanasia. The paper concludes that it is important not to pathologize the experiences of researchers but to recognize that the way the decision to euthanize is reached and the training it is based on can make a significant difference to a person's attitudes and levels of comfort when euthanizing animals.

Item Type: Journal Article
Publisher: Surrey Beatty & Sons
Copyright: © Surrey Beatty & Sons
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