Saying Goodbye to Family

Caretakers’ Experiences with Euthanasia and Honoring the Legacy of Companion Animals

In: Society & Animals
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  • 1 Department of Sociology and Anthropology, College of Charleston, SC
  • 2 Department of Sociology and Anthropology, College of Charleston, SC

Many humans treat their companion animals as “fictive kin” and thus want them to be treated with dignity and respect in death and disposal. Limited research exists on how caretakers themselves experience the euthanasia of their companion animal, including how they handle the remains and honor their legacy. This research fills this void by reporting the results of a survey of 567 individuals. Euthanasia was typically performed in the veterinary clinic, with the client remaining 74% of the time. Ninety percent or more of the clients expressed satisfaction with how the veterinarian treated the companion animal and the client. The majority of companion animals were cremated and honored their companion animals in individualized and diverse ways (e.g., shrines, tattoos, and photographs).

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