The Truth About Euthanasia at For Fox Sake

We keep hearing about nasty rumors being spread about For Fox Sake. Most recently, someone publicly accused us of gassing all of our raccoons to death. (We has the less-than-professional reaction of, “Wait, WTF?” upon hearing this.)

So we’re here to clear the air because we value transparency and honesty. And here is the honest, blunt, sometimes unpleasant, verifiable truth:

We do euthanize some animals that come into our care. But we NEVER euthanize an animal unless absolutely necessary. We are in this job to save animals, not to kill them. But there are times that it *is* absolutely necessary.

Most of our euthanasia cases are because of a very contagious, very painful, essentially untreatable viral infection called canine distemper. Canine distemper is extremely common and causes immense suffering as it invades the animal’s central nervous system. It is also virtually indistinguishable from rabies. We euthanize any animal who comes to us with canine distemper because keeping these animals alive is cruel and jeopardizes the safety of every animal in our care. We don’t like doing it but we will never force an animal to suffer through such a painful disease and can’t risk the infection spreading to our other patients.

In a few cases, we have had to euthanize animals for other infections and injuries that were terminal, untreatable, and/or made it so the animal could have no quality of life. We make those decisions case-by-case and with the same care and compassion we would give a beloved pet. We do not believe in making animals suffer.

Here’s the part we hate: in some cases, state law requires us to euthanize healthy animals because they have bitten someone or because they are not releasable. In Tennessee, any bite by a wild skunk, fox, or raccoon must be treated as a possible case of rabies exposure. There is no test for rabies in a living animal, so we have no option but to comply with state law so the animals can be tested. And due to regulations by the Tennessee Department of Health, all wild-born, nonreleasable skunks, foxes, and raccoons must be euthanized. We *have to* comply with state law or we will lose our permit.

There is nothing that angers us more than having to kill healthy animals, especially because it has been preventable in 100% of cases. Every single healthy animal we’ve been forced to euthanize has been someone’s illegal pet that had become too tame to release, too old to rehabilitate, and/or had bitten someone. We are forced to kill healthy animals because of OTHER PEOPLE’S selfishness and irresponsibility, when these animals could have been saved if they came to us in infancy.

That isn’t fair to us. It isn’t fair to the animals. It isn’t what we’re here to do. And if you want us to stop doing it, spread the word that wild animals should not be kept as pets.

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