Since the outcry of an incident revolving a euthanised dog named Loki broke out on 6 May, multiple parties had voiced out their opinions on this particular issue.
About that incident, a member of Exclusively Mongrels, Gan Theng Wei, had revealed that young Loki was being euthanised under the decision of his owners because they wanted to avoid the risk of Loki biting their newborn baby. Loki’s owners reasoned that their pet dog bit a girl previously, as well as the owner himself.
Many were enraged and they questioned why the veterinary clinic involved would euthanise a healthy dog.
Yesterday (13 May), Mount Pleasant Veterinary Group, the veterinary clinic that was believed to be responsible for the euthanising process, responded to this issue on their Facebook page.
The Group stated that euthanasia is emotionally stressful for health care professionals as they were trained to save lives.
“There is nothing “convenient” or “easy” about euthanasia cases handled by veterinary professionals, who themselves are animal lovers.
As health care professionals, veterinarians are trained to save lives and are guided by a duty to protect their patients from harm. The decision to euthanise an animal is emotionally stressful and not taken lightly.”
To respond to the public’s demand for the reason of euthanising Loki, the veterinary clinic wrote that they are “bound by a code of client confidentiality”, which implies that they’re unable to disclose any information.
They further explained that veterinarians practise according to the current Code of Ethics for Veterinarians and that they denied having influence involving “private matter” like agreements between a rehomer and an adopter.
“Veterinary professionals adhere to the current Code of Ethics for Veterinarians and are bound by a code of client confidentiality. Veterinarians do not participate nor have influence in prior agreements made between a rehomer and an adopter, which is a private matter.”
The statement wrote, “We are here not only for our animals. We are here also for our clients”, which had somehow angered the public even more.
In regards to the process of euthanasia, the Group clarified that vets would go through “all necessary deliberations and alternatives with the owners”, and that it often took “over several weeks or months”. They also mentioned that pet owners are responsible for the decision of euthanasia.
“The decision for euthanasia is ultimately the responsibility and right of the pet owner, taking into account issues such as the presence of animal suffering and public safety and the absence of animal cruelty or mistreatment.”
Despite expressing that euthanasia poses a “tremendous emotional burden” in the course of being a veterinarian, he or she had to take multiple aspects into consideration, such as “ethics, governance, confidentiality, autonomy and beneficence”.
“Veterinarians are tasked with the authority of making deeply morally troubling decisions – in a complexity of ethics, governance, confidentiality, autonomy and beneficence – where the consequence of their action or inaction is something he or she alone has to bear.”
Finally, getting back onto Loki’s case, the Group asked the public to be patient and calm as they cooperate with the Animal and Veterinary Services “to ensure the Code of Ethics protects our companion animals, the public and veterinary professionals”.
Response from the Singapore Veterinary Association
The Association declared that they are not in the position to comment on cases that are under investigation, and they had also urged everyone to refrain from further comments before the investigation is completed.
In their statement provided on the same Facebook post by Mount Pleasant Veterinary Group, SVA had described how euthanasia works and how it would affect vets who, as “animal lovers”, had to put animals to sleep.
The Association explained that euthanasia is a “complex and solemn” decision and it is also a stressful event for many pet owners and veterinarians.
“Euthanasia of a pet is a complex and solemn decision made with careful consideration of all circumstances and various possible treatment options for the pet. Euthanasia of an animal patient is a stressful event for many pet owners and veterinarians, and is not taken lightly,” wrote SVA.
It had also been emphasised that the burden of euthanasia ultimately falls onto the shoulders of veterinarians as it is a “heavy responsibility and mentally stressful” process for them.
Other than describing how mentally taxing euthanising an animal is, the Association stated that even with rigorous training in animal health and welfare, it would still be difficult for veterinarians to end an animal’s life.
“Part of the burden of euthanising pets falls onto the shoulders of veterinarians, a profession that undergoes rigorous training in animal health and welfare, regulated by a licensing regime and a robust disciplinary system. It is a heavy responsibility and mentally stressful for veterinarians, who themselves are animal lovers, to end the life of any animal.”
According to the SVA, guidelines for the euthanasia of animals were provided in the current Code of Ethics.
“The current Code of Ethics for Veterinarians provides guidelines for the euthanasia of animals. This necessitates professional judgment by veterinarians to effectively apply the standards, laws and ethics that govern veterinary practice, factoring in animal health, animal welfare, public safety and safety of the pet owners.”
The SVA had also acknowledged that the Code of Ethics was created in collaboration with the veterinary regulators like AVS and NParks.
The Code of Ethics is jointly developed by SVA and the veterinary regulators (AVS/NParks). SVA is committed to supporting AVS by providing professional input and supporting national initiatives such as stray sterilisation programmes and vaccination campaigns.
Netizens dissatisfied with the response
Many left comments under the Mount Pleasant Veterinary Group’s Facebook post, expressing how the response did not address the issue and reason of why a young, healthy dog was euthanised.
Considering how the Group defend that veterinarians would “go through all necessary deliberations and alternatives with the owners” that would often take over “several weeks or months”, Deb Tan thought it would only be fair if the clinic could provide a timeline in handling Loki’s case.
Other than Ms Tan, Lim Lee Peng had also doubted if the supposedly long-winded process was even followed through and carried out.
While refusing to accept the veterinary clinic’s response, Audrey Lee commented that the clinic hadn’t done everything to save Loki’s life. Upon reading how veterinarians should go through extensive measures before euthanising a pet animal, Ms Lee wondered why the clinic did not contact the rescue to give Loki a second chance in life.
Trisha Yuen Thow expressed that a vet’s job is to save lives, and not the end them. She assumed that the clinic had cooperated with euthanising Loki because its owners were willing to pay for it.
Alyce Chow voiced out that the Code of Ethics did not help Loki and that it is debatable to use the Code as a form of defence. She believed that it is necessary to call for laws against euthanising healthy animals, this is so that veterinarians who do that can be held accountable legally.
With much doubt against the veterinary clinic, Ng Shi Hui stood by demanding for the reason to euthanise Loki. She believed it would make sense if the clinic could just provide a medical report to justify Loki’s death.
Apart from the group of netizens who were extremely angered and triggered by the veterinary clinic’s response, there were also some people who believed that the veterinarians should not take all of the blame.
They explained that Loki’s owners played a huge part in deciding for euthanasia, and that implied how irresponsible certain adopters can be.