Euthanized Pets Endanger Wildlife

If you’ve recently had to make the decision to send a beloved pet to the Rainbow Bridge, wild animals may be the last thing on your mind. But, if you’re not careful, your pet’s death could actually cause even more suffering.

Sometimes, particularly among people who live in apartments and don’t have appropriate places to bury their pets, laying them to rest can be difficult. Fees for cremation can be costly to an owner who may have already put themselves in debt to try to save their pet. And it’s not easy, especially in the city, to find a friend who will allow you to bury a pet on their property.

Even if you have space, digging a sufficiently deep grave for a ninety-pound dog can be impossible for someone trying to use a regular shovel in rocky soil. Faced with what may feel like no other option, some owners simply lay their pet in the forest, or even put the body in a dumpster to go to the landfill.

Unfortunately, euthanized pets’ bodies don’t just go “away.” Our native scavengers— vultures, opossums, raccoons, coyotes, crows, and others— are the undertakers of the wild world and go to work quickly, not knowing that they’re eating flesh poisoned with euthanasia drugs. The scavengers ultimately end up passing away after ingesting these medications (and often leaving orphans behind).

Please be kind to wildlife while facing the loss of your pet. If you can’t afford an additional cremation fee after your pet’s euthanasia, tell your vet that you have no other options. She may be able to work out lower-cost options, though your pet’s ashes would not be returned to you in those situations. Your city’s public health department or animal control may also offer services for disposing of deceased animals at no cost to you.

If none of those options are available to you, don’t be afraid to reach out for help using social media or your local Nextdoor or neighborhood group. There are many animal lovers in the world, some of whom may be strong people with shovels and land to loan, and they may help you give your pet a proper burial deep enough underground to avoid scavengers.

Please don’t allow your loss to also cause losses for wild animals and their family. Always dispose of a euthanized pet’s body responsibly.

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