The Messenger of Death

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Death;

That’s the final frontier.

Nothing is more definite.

Nothing is more final.

Nothing is more irreversible.

Then why do we take a life?

Why do I?

If Dr. Kevorkian can be punished for human Euthanasia, what is my punishment for killing sixteen cats and nine dogs with reasons ranging from upper respiratory infection to perceived aggressive to simply – “un-adoptable because they’ve been at the shelter too long” scribbled clear across their charts.

A red tag around their collar as I walk him to his final walk. The chocolate brown big-pittie wags his tail wildly as I pet his pretty face. He jumps up and down the weigh-scale ready to play his game with me.

  1. The amber read-out of the scale flickers. That would mean 8cc of the Blue-juice. My gut tightens.

The vet-techs check his vitals and I tranquilize him. Then we put him in the cage and the vet techs cover it with a blanket.

“Why do we do that?”

“So he can’t see what’s going on outside.” He says to me and re-starts his banter with the other vet-techs.

Having been here for a week has taught me how to read between lines. Having worked in rescue for years has taught me how we veil our fears and feeling. It’s not because we don’t want them to see outside. It’s because we don’t want to see inside.

So I peek behind the blanket. My pittie is swaying his head from side to side like Stevie Wonder does when he sings. Drool is dribbling out of his mouth.

I can barely hold his chart up with my trembling hands. There must be something wrong. He is so healthy and happy. I go over every line again. It still says Upper respiratory tract infection. I could’ve sworn I never heard a cough or anything.

They pull him out and lay his limp body on the table. His muscles are quivering involuntarily. He must’ve figured out what’s coming.

“Why don’t you do this one.” My supervisor points to me.

“Me?” I look behind me. Nothing. Gosh.

My mouth runs dry. I gulp a few times and pick up the syringe. I draw 8cc’s of the blue liquid and grab the pittie by the elbow and twist my wrist slightly.

His big vein pops up willingly, eager to please me very much like him. Always obliging. Always ready to give happiness, joy, love and now even his own life; The true spirit of a dog.

And the true spirit of man.

I point the beveled end of the needle up and dig into his skin, feeling the vein. I draw out a little blood to ensure I’ve hit the vein and then I plunge the syringe as deep as I can.

A sudden urge to vomit overpowers me. I’ve just pushed death into the body of an animal that I had sworn just to give life to. I had chosen death.

“Good job, officer.” My supervisor spins on his heel and leaves the lab.

My knees hit the floor. I run my hand over the pitties head repeating the words SORRY SORRY , Please forgive me. I am so sorry, big guy.

His eyes glaze over they are staring into nothingness. I put my face right in front of his eyes. I want me to be the last thing he saw. I pet his head and kiss his nose till the heart jab injection tells me he has passed.

I force myself not to cry in front of the vet techs. I force myself to appear professional but my heart broke into a million pieces today. But it has broken several times before and it will as long as I work in this field.

Today I am the messenger of death. We in rescue call this by different names- we try to ease the pain and cutify death. Lab Limbo (stalling going to the lab by doing menial things to delay killing), The Rainbow Bridge, Going to meet Jesus, Going night-night… It’s still death; Final and all encompassing.

I trudge over to the wash-basin.

Boraxo, Industrial strength hand-wash. An orange bottle over the basin reads. Removes paint, grease, tar, ink and oils.

I pump some on my hands and scrub the grainy gel as vigorously as I can. Yes but can it remove DEATH too?

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11 thoughts on “The Messenger of Death

  1. Omg that is horrible. 😦 People waste millions of dollars on purses, houses and weddings. God donate to a shelter. save a life. Jesus so sad.

  2. Sometimes there are no words. My gut tightened with yours. My hand trembled with yours. Thank you for being one of those people who has chosen this very very difficult path…the path that leads you to be the last kindness that they will know, the path that allows your hands to impart peace.

  3. Shelters were born from compassion and have somehow lost their way. This is misguided and wrong…this healthy pup had a desire to LIVE, just like us. Your writing and story brought me into that room of death with you…I tried to keep my eyes open.

      • Yes I am…One of them…But you see- the problem is not them. The problem is the rest of us. They are following the law. We are the ones allowing reckless breeding, dog-fighting, abandonment etc. to thrive in a world around us. We are the one who HAVE FAILED the animals. We’ve failed teaching our children, we’ve failed spreading compassions, we’ve failed being vegan ourselves,we have failed finding them homes and raising funds for their voices being heard, we have used cosmetics that were tested on them, we have bought leather. WE HAVE FAILED THE ANIMALS… YOU and ME.

  4. I completely agree with you.
    Regarding animal shelters: When animals need a helping hand WE as a society must insure that they have one. Shelters are supposed to protect homeless animals from the uncertainties of life. This tradition of needless killing that shelters harbor can be greatly reduced and even eliminated. It takes transcending the seen and common…fresh perspectives. Just because some people are irresponsible doesn’t mean animals have to die.

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