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Should I euthanize my daughter's rabbit to save on vet bills? And not tell her? Help!

Tagged as: Family, Trust issues<< Previous question   Next question >>
Question - (27 December 2009) 12 Answers - (Newest, 12 January 2010)
A male United Kingdom age 51-59, anonymous writes:

Thinking of killing my daughters pet rabbit!

The rabbit is ill, it has a tumor (possibly or an abscess behind the eyes) which is visible about the size of one eye and oozes puss. It requires twice daily eye drops and medication which I administer after bathing the rabbits face; as my daughter cannot do this. It lives in the house now and whilst it used to run around the whole of the ground floor it doesn't venture out of he kitchen now. (It uses the cats litter tray, if you were wondering...the cat goes outside!)

An operation on the eye would cost around £350, and has a 30% chance of success, euthanasia at the vets would cost £75.

My daughter is away at the moment spending Christmas with her mother (she lives with me normally I have care). My father suggested I just give it a quick twist of the neck, he was brought up on a farm; I on the other hand generally feel bad about swatting a fly, I've thought about enticing it outside with a carrot and then whacking poor creature on the neck with the garden spade, giving it an appropriate burial and telling my daughter it died, saving myself £75, which at the moment I could'nt afford to waste. The repeat medication is £65 per couple of months.

What should I do, and if I did the deed, could I live with it on my conscience? Apart from the remote possibility of my daughter finding out the truth, is there anything else I need to think about?

This is a real dilemma for me, advice please.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (12 January 2010):

No way- Every action has a reaction- and in this case- it would be karmic for yourself. I'd do whatever it takes to save your daughters bunny or give it away to a rehoming shelter- your daughter would probably appreciate you giving her bunny away and not killing it than killing it behind her back. Humanbeings have a funny way of picking up on hidden truths, on a subconcious level- even children. If you want someone to adopt- i'd be happy too, even though i currently have 14 rabbits - 4 with the eye problems you talk of. I'd find somewhere for the bunny other than my home eventually- let me know.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (28 December 2009):

Please dont kill the rabbit yourself! Its a poor defencless animal. If you truly believe it wont get any better and do not want to spend money on tratment then take it to the vet and get them to put it down.

Depending how old your duaghter is then be honest with her. You can explain that it would be more cruel to put the rabbit through more treatment if it wont get better.

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A male reader, jc2008 United Kingdom + , writes (28 December 2009):

Put it this way, when I had a sick cat that was depressed and kept hiding behind the sofa it made me sad and I begged my dad to take her to the vets to see what was wrong the vet diagnosed cancer and the cat was 19 years old and wasn't going to get better I was the first to suggest having it put to sleep and got dad to take it to the vets. If the animal isn't going to get better it is best to put it to sleep, I couldn't bare to see it kept alive and suffering for my sake.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (28 December 2009):

Don't buy animals if you have no intention or means of making a financial commitment to them for the duration of their life.

If you must make economics decide here, at least have the decency to have a vet euthanize humanely rather than smack the poor thing on the back of the head.

As a prior vet nurse, and now owner of a pet shop (which does not sell domesticated animals on moral grounds) I must admit to having developed rather little tolerance for the multitude of irresponsible pet owners out there who impulse puchase life forms without thinking through their commitment to them for the duration of that life.

I am not saying indulge in false economy trying to treat an ongoing situation unlikely to get better - but have the balls to at least own it, admit it, and do the right thing by the animal.

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A female reader, anonymous, writes (28 December 2009):

Really the rabbit’s welfare is the first thing that should be taken into consideration.

Because rabbits are prey animals they need their sight and hearing more then anything. Loosing an eye can be very difficult for a rabbit and in some cases detrimental to their health as they can spook easier if a noise or something approaches them from their blind side.

Then there is the aftercare and sometime they just don’t pull through well enough, this in time causes them more damage then good.

If you feel that the rabbit’s eye is not going to improve and only worsen and has to go through invasive treatments daily then I think it would be time to consider euthanizing.

I can not stress enough though, please do not put it down yourself, if the animal suffers in any way, shape or form you can be fined for animal cruelty. Ringing their necks may be well and good for some people but this is a domesticated animal, not wild.

I do feel you should speak to your daughter about the matter, about what the rabbit is going through, the operations, the 30% chance of success, and the cost.

Help her to understand that it’s for the rabbit’s interest and that she should think of the rabbit and its suffering rather then how sad she will be.

If she still declines at euthanizing the rabbit then ask for more help with it. Make her bathe the eye and administer the medication herself, its normally after carrying out the duties themselves that they realise what the rabbit is going through and wont be so hesitant at euthanasia

I hope this helps

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A reader, anonymous, writes (28 December 2009):

In the future if you decide to adopt any pets for your child, remember please that a pet is a financial responsibility and if you cannot afford the medical care it may require especially as the pet ages, then it is really not acceptable to have a pet. They are not disposable items like so many of the gadgets that we buy today. But instead a living thing that is capable of having emotions and feelings and most importantly is totally dependent on we humans for it's care.

Especially important when we are speaking of higher life forms like a pet dog or cat.. These animals truly bond emotionally with their owners and feel depression when abandoned and taken to a shelter. I realize that people start this animal/human relationship with the best intentions and do the best that they can...but just remember to not take on this responsibility for the next 15 years or so when adopting a pet if you cannot make the commitment to care for the animal through aging and illness until the end of it's life. Not saying you would, but just cautioning you to consider the responsibility required in owning a pet.

Kids learn a lot from animals like caring for another living thing, unconditional love and responsibility, they also learn about letting go and death, and animals will teach the child this lesson if you allow it too, much earlier than they most likely will experience with one of their close family. So don't hide the truth from your daughter, explain it to her at age appropriate levels, and try to make the whole thing as least traumatic for her as possible, lying is not the way to go. This is a "teachable" moment and I think you can use it as such.

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A male reader, anonymous, writes (28 December 2009):

Put the animal to sleep.

I'm sorry but there are lots of suffering/starved/diseased kids in the world for whom $10 may save their lives.

A huge vet bill for a rabbit...let's get our priorities straight.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (28 December 2009):

I wanted to further expand on the whole being from a farm and killing a rabbit by breaking it's neck.

Back in the day farmers treated their farm animals with respect and treated them humanely. Much more than commercial farms handle animals today.

My dad as a rule did not kill wild rabbits by twisting and breaking their necks, first of all it is hard to catch a healthy uninjured rabbit unless you use a humane trap to kill one. The only time this practice was put into place is when he found a severely injured rabbit that one of the farm cats ripped to shreds or a fox did the same thing and left the poor animal to die. This was the quickest way to put a dying in pain animal out of it's misery.

My dad would never break a cats neck for instance or shoot a dog in the head unless it had rabies. These are pets and they have emotional bonds and feelings with their owners and they are to be treated humanely.

Therefore, I think it is your duty out of respect for the animal and your daughter as her pet to take it to the vet to be properly euthanized. I don't think you are doing it just to avoid treating it's tumor. It sounds like the animal is not going to get better with medicine and the operation is too costly for the successful outcome and it is a rabbit after all, not a prized race horse...So no guilt there for putting a sick animal down. It has to be done and that is that.

Just don't break it's neck, this isn't always quick and painless by the way...

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A reader, anonymous, writes (28 December 2009):

My dad grew up on a farm and yes, twisting and breaking the rabits neck is what they did with wild rabbits.

Personally, I couldn't live with myself if I killed a pet in this way. Call around to some different vets and see if they charge less. Ask questions about different services that are included in the price.

Here in the US vets charge for a person being with the animal as it is euthanized, they charge for disposing of the body or for cremation.

The least expensive is putting the animal to sleep while you wait in the waiting room and you take the animal home with you to bury.

This would be the best course of action to take with your daughter. She needs to learn the proper care of an animal all the way to its end of life, and having a burial at home can help her get closure, you can go through a funeral if wanted, I don't think it is always needed, just depends on your beliefs and your child.

Let her say goodbye to it before you take it to the Vet. But please pony up the bucks to have her pet put down humanely, you have already spent money medicating it, the least you can do is to put it out of it's misery in a humane way.

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A female reader, Carrot2000 United States +, writes (28 December 2009):

Carrot2000 agony auntPlease talk to her before you put the rabbit down. Give her a chance to say goodbye to her pet and spend some time with him before he is euthanized.

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A reader, anonymous, writes (28 December 2009):

i agree with celtic tiger. Put it to sleep but tell her that you had to because it was suffering.

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A female reader, celtic_tiger United Kingdom + , writes (28 December 2009):

celtic_tiger agony auntHow old is your daughter?

I had a lovely Rabbit called Benji when I was little who I rescued from a whack on the head from a neighbour (they just didnt want him). He eventually got a nasty tumour, on his head, weeping and pussy. We had him put to sleep, as it was the kindest thing for him. He was in such pain, and had no quality of life, and was unlikely to get better.

You need to talk to your daughter and explain to her that her rabbit is very sick, and the kindest thing to do is to make it comfortable. If it no longer runs about, goes outside and does normal rabbity things, how fair is it to keep plying it with medicine just to keep it alive? It has no quality of life.

She needs to understand this, and go through the emotions. Yes its hard, but its also a learning curve. I suggest not bashing it on the head, because she will guess and will be hurt by your actions, but if she understands and sees that the rabbit is in pain and not having a nice time of it, she will get over it. But she needs to be involved in the decision. I know vets bills cost for this sort of thing, but so does medication for another 6 months....

Be kind to the animal, treat it with love and show it that you care by putting it out of its pain.

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