Pet Euthanasia – you’ve got options. Help from the Nebraska Humane Society

By on April 16, 2016

Euthanasia is often a necessary practice that pet owners must be informed about. When your family pet is beyond the point of recovery and its quality of life is suffering greatly, it’s your responsibility to decide what’s best for your animal as it makes its way toward the Rainbow Bridge.

Euthanasia the peaceful ending of an animal’s life utilizing an anesthetic overdose.  Euthanasia should be considered when a meaningful recovery is not available or when an animal is suffering.

It’s sometimes a difficult subject to even think about, let alone actually going through the process of seeing the end of your animal’s life. Hopefully, with the following information, you’ll have an easier time of it. Knowing what to do when the end comes can bring comfort. The unknown is hard to deal with. Many will tell you that the routine, steps, and processes involved have helped them deal with loss. The hardest part is figuring out what to do after your pet is gone- we’ll tell you where to look for help on that, too.

We’ve consulted five businesses, organizations that help pet owners through the process. From how to know when it’s time to what you need to manage grief, we hope to cover a large portion of the process here. Read, share, ask questions- this series is meant to be helpful and informative. Just know there are many choices to make, but many professionals out there to help you along the way as well. We’ll put some of them side-by-side here so you can decide which path to travel.


“To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die”

                                                           -Thomas Campbell

Pet Euthanasia is a very personal decision based on each individual pet, owner, and the health of the animal.  At NHS we feel that the decision should be made by the pet owner in consultation with their veterinarian. The owners, along with the family vet, know the pet, can assess the pet’s health and quality of life, and can best make end of life choices.


There are a few questions that can be asked that we believe can be good guides for decision making.

  1. If your pet has pain, is uncomfortable, or suffering, can you offer relief?
  2. Does he have a good quality of life?  *It may have changed—he can no longer run for miles, or play fetch ALL day as he ages, but does he still get some enjoyment out of life—possibly by some simple things that have traditionally made him happy like his food, lying in the sun, affection?
  3. Does the pet still have his dignity?  *Can he still generally control his bowels and his body, or can you offer solutions to keep him comfortable and clean?

If the answers to these questions are “no” then it might be time to consult your veterinarian.


The Nebraska Humane Society will euthanize pets…however we strongly recommend that people go to their veterinarian for this service. We think the decision should be made by the people and practitioners who best know the pet, and can, therefore, assess when the time is right.  We also believe that to offer the most peace at the time of euthanasia, pets should be with the people they know—not in an unfamiliar place surrounded by unfamiliar people.  When NHS does euthanize we follow the American Veterinary Medical Associations procedures/recommendations for humane euthanasia.


NHS offers cremation for all animals. For owners who wish to keep their pet’s ashes, the Nebraska Humane Society’s private pet cremation service, Rainbow Bridge, offers private, individual cremation.  We work with area veterinarians to provide this service to their clients at appropriate times, information is also on our website, or owners can come to the shelter to request services. We understand that this is a very difficult time for a pet owner and we take the responsibility of caring for their cherished animal very seriously. Each animal is hand placed in one of our three individual crematoriums. Owners can also request a favorite toy, outfit, bone etc be cremated along with the pet. Once cremated, the pet’s ashes are hand collected, and placed in a vessel of the owner’s choice. This ensures that the ashes an owner receives are, indeed, those of his or her beloved pet.  Rainbow Bridge offers a variety of urns and boxes and even pendants that can hold ashes. Clay paw prints can also be imprinted and fired within the crematorium at the time of cremation. These can be a lovely “displayable” tribute to a pet.  And memorial bricks are available as a permanent marker at the shelter, to commemorate loved pets. Proceeds of all these services stay at NHS to help provide for homeless animals, so as you care for your pet you are also caring for homeless animals of our community. A fitting tribute in our minds!



Grief help:

We understand that pet loss leaves a gaping hole in an owner’s life. NHS hosts a pet loss group that is free of charge and meets the first Saturday of every month at 10:30 a.m. in the conference room at the Nebraska Humane Society (8929 Fort Street). You can talk, or just listen … and know that others with you empathize. Erika Jacobsen is our facilitator who donates her time. She is a licensed mental health therapist, master social worker and an alcohol and drug counselor. She also has her own pet sitting business, and understands the incredible role that pets play in our lives, and the subsequent hole they leave behind.


Information about Rainbow Bridge,  our Pet Loss Support Group, or any other NHS service can be found at

Through our research and by hearing from NHS (plus the four other groups that’ll we’ll feature in this series), we can honestly and objectively say your first stop when addressing the initial questions about this time in your pet’s life should be your family veterinarian. Hopefully, with sound advice, introspection, and a close look into all options, you’ll be able to make the best decision for yourself and your furry friend.


Read about how a veterinarian can help you with this decision by clicking here. 





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