TV5's Pet Protection Project - WNEM TV 5

TV5's Pet Protection Project

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SAGINAW, MI (WNEM) -

Being an animal control officer can be one of the most rewarding and depressing jobs to have.  

The stressful part of the job is having to put down animals. In TV5's Pet Protection Project, reporter Craig McMorris has reaction from those workers to a part of their job they'd rather not perform.

"My animal control officers who are obligated and forced to euthanize the animals certainly don't do it with any pleasure," said Bay County Animal Shelter Director Mike Halstead.

Saginaw County Animal Care Center Director Kevin Wilkin echoes that sentiment, saying "It's never an easy decision. It's particularly hard for me when we're euthanizing an animal for no other reason other than space when there's no medical or behavioral reason, that's when I struggle with it the most."

Imagine shooting up a living, breathing creature with a deadly poison. It's something most of the general public couldn't imagine doing. Yet it's something that animal care workers are forced to do each and every day. It's a story not many of them have opened up about.

"I think would compare the attitude of an animal control officer forced to put animals down to a M.A.S.H. unit in that they have to become hardened to the disposal of the animal, even though it's a method used here within the shelter to inoculate them or put them to sleep, it's that simple," said Halstead.

He's has been at the Bay County animal control facility for six years. He explained what solution is used to put down animals.

"It's an inoculation with sodium pentothal that stops the animal's heart," said Halstead. "They virtually all times fall asleep before their heart is stopped."

The mental anguish, stress and pain for people doing the euthanizing can be unbearable. Psychologists have a name for it.

"It's called compassion fatigue, there's actually compassion fatigue training that employees can go to. Other places I've worked at, they've sent all the employees to compassion fatigue training," said Wilkin.

Wilkin has been through such training. He said every person has a different way of dealing with putting down an animal, and he's done it countless times.

"Over the years I've developed my own technique for dealing with it. I'm a person who sort of likes to keep things to myself but I don't like to talk about it a whole lot," added Wilkin.

Even private, no-kill animal shelters like the Pet Angel cat rescue facility in Frankenmuth sometimes have to put an animal to sleep when an animal can't recover from an illness.

"We will spend a lot of money to try to rescue that animal, but when the vet says there's nothing more we can do and the animal is in pain, then we have had to put down a few," said Rescue Director Nancy Engel.

Other no-kill rescue workers have sympathy for "kill" shelter workers and their dilemma of having to put down an animal.

Denise Rayner, with Heavenly Paws in Oakland County, says "they work very hard at saving those lives so certainly, yes, they are doing their job but they're also trying to find homes for them."

The public can help save the lives of pets from euthanization at these animal shelters. Be a part of our Pet Protection Project."

Click on the links inside the sidebar to the left to learn more about each facility or click through our Adoptable Pets Slideshow to find the right companion for you.

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