Symposium explores psychological impacts of euthanasia, depopulation

AVMA working group supports dialogue and provides resources

By Katie Burns and R. Scott Nolen
Published: 21 April 2023

Participating in the euthanasia or depopulation of animals has psychological impacts on both veterinary professionals and animal owners.

Speakers at the AVMA Humane Endings Symposium, held January 26-29 in Chicago, shared their personal experiences with depopulation of cattle and sheep for disease control and euthanasia of pigs after a fire. Other speakers discussed how to help pet owners know when it is time to euthanize a pet and how veterinary professionals can learn to grieve.

The AVMA Steering Committee on Human-Animal Interactions created the Working Group on the Psychological Impacts of Humane Endings more than two years ago to bring the veterinary profession together for dialogue on these issues and to provide resources. The AVMA working group started by addressing the psychological impacts of depopulation.

Dr. Don Hoenig, a member of the working group, presented an overview of the group and research in this area, while reflecting on his experience with depopulation of sheep and cattle during the 2001 outbreak of food-and-mouth disease in the United Kingdom.

To see the full version of this story, visit the AVMA News website.