Pet Euthanasia Gone Wrong

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My cat Yogi was 20 years old, but the very picture of health until a malignant tumor took up residence in his mouth. It grew quickly and began causing Yogi much discomfort – so much so that he wouldn’t eat. I didn’t want my buddy to get to the point of immense suffering.

I moved about a year ago, and had looked for a veterinarian with Fear Free or Low Stress Handling credentials. I found a clinic that advertised itself as a fear-free hospital within an hour’s drive, and had visited the clinic several times without being either impressed or dismayed. I made an appointment to have Yogi euthanized at this clinic.

When the veterinarian entered the examination room, I told him I’d like Yogi to be sedated before the euthanasia drug was administered. He indicated that this was fine, and left the room. He came back with an assistant and a tiny syringe, saying, “This will sting a little but within less than five minutes he’ll be completely sedated, though his eyes will remain open. Are you ready?” I said yes. He then said that after he gave the sedation injection, he’d leave and come back in five minutes to euthanize Yogi.

yogi the cat

I’m not new to this procedure, but it never gets easier. As a vet tech, I assisted in the euthanasia of hundreds of pets; I’ve also supported friends, family, and clients during the euthanasia of their pets, and was present when all of my own animals passed. But what I experienced that day haunts me.

Yogi was very weak, had recently stopped eating, and had failing kidneys. Many animals in this condition don’t even notice an injection. I expected that he might feel a little prick and then slowly go to sleep – but that’s not what happened.

When the vet injected the drug into the muscle of Yogi’s hind leg, my cat screamed the loudest meow I’ve ever heard and, with a power he hadn’t displayed in years, thrust himself backward almost off the end of the table. The vet said, “You can let him go.” What?! I heard the words but my protective instinct kicked in; I was not going to let my frail friend crash to the floor! I was able to prevent him from falling off the table, but then he launched himself forward and upward out of my arms, flailing toward the wall. The vet and the tech stepped away from Yogi, as I flew to the other side of the table, catching him mid-air so he wouldn’t crash into the wall. They then excused themselves and left the room!

I sat with a now-comatose cat, limp, with eyes dilated and glassy. I held his fragile, soft, furry body – the same body that had just acted like super cat – and wept. What the hell just happened? I was in shock; the peaceful end I had hoped my friend would experience had instead turned hideously painful and traumatic.

A few minutes later, the vet and tech came back in, to give the final injection in a vein in Yogi’s hind leg. Within a minute, my boy was on his way to getting his wings to soar. As for me, the shock of Yogi’s last moments kept me silent except to say thank you as I picked up Yogi’s lifeless body to take home to bury.

That night, I couldn’t sleep, thinking how I betrayed my companion of 20 years by holding him while someone hurt and terrified him. I couldn’t shake the vision of Yogi’s last moments. Since I’d never experienced such a horrific euthanasia, I thought it was an anomaly – that his reaction was rare – and I vowed to disallow that drug, whatever it was, from being used on any of my animals again.

Horror Redux

Sadly, a few months later I would be facing another end-of-life decision, this time for a dear friend’s pet. My friend had passed away, and her spouse was having a tough time grieving her loss while caring for the special-needs dogs she left behind. In her honor, I asked if I could help care for the two senior dogs: Hopper, a 17-year-old, deaf, blind Chihuahua; and Buddy, a nine-year-old dog who was disabled with a spinal injury. My friend’s husband agreed, and I took them into my home.

It soon became clear to me that Hopper was failing. After a lengthy conversation with my friend’s spouse, we decided that it was time to let Hopper go, before his suffering was unbearable. Since I thought what happened with Yogi was an anomaly, I called the same veterinary practice to make an appointment to euthanize Hopper. Still, I planned to ask the veterinarian to use a different drug to sedate Hopper, so that the experience would be like all the other euthanasias I had witnessed. In addition, when I made the appointment, I asked for a sedative that I could give Hopper before we ever even got to the veterinary hospital; this little guy was blind and deaf and very vulnerable in his dark and silent world, and I wanted to give him all the help I could.

Hopper was very relaxed in my arms as we waited in the exam room. The veterinarian entered, and asked if I wanted to sedate Hopper further before administering the euthanasia drug. I said yes – but added that I didn’t want him to use the same drug that he used with Yogi.

The doctor responded that it should be fine for Hopper, because it’s harder on cats than dogs; just a little prick and in a few minutes he’d be completely sedated. I was stunned, thinking, “Wow, really?! You know it’s harder on cats than dogs and you gave it to my cat anyway?” But at the same time, I had this tiny dog in my arms on the table, not knowing what was going on, unable to see or hear, pressing his body against mine. I didn’t want to prolong the experience. I decided to trust the doctor’s word, that dogs don’t react to this drug like cats do, and since Hopper was already relaxed from the sedative I’d given him, it would be fine. So I said, “Okay, if you think the same thing won’t happen, then it’s time; yes, go ahead.”

I held Hopper while the vet gave the injection into the muscle in Hopper’s hind leg. There was no reaction from Hopper, thank goodness. Phew! The vet left the room.

Five minutes later, Hopper was still sitting in my arms, as awake and relaxed as he had been since we arrived. The vet came back in and looked at Hopper, amazed that he wasn’t fully sedated. “Wow,” said the doctor. “I’ve never seen this before. He’s not sedated at all.”

“No, he’s not,” I said. “Perhaps the syringe was empty?”

The vet looked at me as if I was crazy. He said, “NO, I gave the injection.” I remained silent, having said what I thought to be true, that perhaps the syringe was empty. He said he would go get another injection.

When the vet came back in, I suggested that he inject Hopper’s other hind leg. He agreed, saying, “There must have been no circulation in that other leg and that’s why the first injection didn’t work.”

I held Hopper while the vet gave the injection – and this time, Hopper screamed, became Superman, and started biting at the air. Blind, he was in a state of sheer panic and pain as I held him, snapping wildly. I looked into the vet’s eyes with fire in mine. He left the room, saying he’d be back in five minutes.

The moment the door closed, Hopper collapsed in my arms. I held him close, apologizing to him and crying my eyes out. I couldn’t believe this happened again. I was stricken because I had let Hopper down – I had let down his owner, my deceased friend! I was reliving Yogi’s horrible experience, and beside myself with anger and despair – and it still wasn’t over for Hopper.

Five of the longest minutes later, the vet and the technician came back in. They said nothing as they worked together to insert the needle into a vein and administer the euthanasia drug. I wept quietly, petting Hopper and silently imploring him to forgive me. Hopper’s end, like Yogi’s, wasn’t painless nor fear-free. I felt this was a heinous crime and I was complicit.It was all I could do to drive home afterward, taking deep breaths to calm myself, wiping the tears that kept falling down my face, and talking out loud to both of my deceased friends, Hopper and his owner, the whole way. It was gibberish chatter to help me make it home.

I feel terrible that it took two awful experiences to investigate the drug that caused such pain and terror in the two animals in my care, as well as the credentials behind the “fear free” claim made on the veterinary practice’s website, only to learn that the drug used in this way is not remotely the best protocol, and that no one in the veterinary hospital had any actual training or credentials in fear-free or low-stress handling.

After being upset to the point of immobility for days, I decided that I could, at the very least, try to prevent any other animals from suffering needlessly before being euthanized while their loving guardians witness their pain and terror. I don’t want any animal to go through what mine did, or any guardian to have this haunting memory seared into their minds for the rest of their lives.

I am now on a mission to spread information about ways to do everything a guardian can do to ensure a good death for her beloved animal companions when it’s time.

70 COMMENTS

  1. I just had to put my 10 year old dog Ginger down 2 days ago. They gave her the sedative and she yelped and almost tried to bite. It was extremely painful and they seemed worried and said they would come back in 20 minutes. She looked at me with glazed eyes. She was still alert. They gave her another dose of sedative and she fought it moving her head back and forth like she was telling me no she isn’t ready. A few minutes later the sedative made her tongue shrivel up and she started snoring with her eyes open. They gave her the final injection and it took maybe a minute and she was gone. It was horrific to watch and I am traumatized. She was not at peace and died a horrible death. I loved her so much and feel so guilty! Thank you for your post! I don’t know if I will ever get over being an accomplice to this “murder”. This went horribly wrong and I hope it’s not the norm

    • Jason – I feel your pain and am so sorry for what happened to you and Ginger! Something very similar happened to me three weeks ago with my beloved cat. I too feel like an accomplice to murder.

      If you want to talk more about this with me, please reach out to the author of this article, Jill Breitner, via her website, and tell her you’d like to get in touch with me. https://shewhisperer.com/contact/ I have already been in touch with Jill about this. She will give me your private contact info and then we can talk. I want to do what I can to let people know they aren’t alone. I also want to do what I can to ensure this doesn’t happen to others. Jill is working on that too. For now, I recommend reading the companion article by Jill to the one above: (they were originally published in the hard copy version of the magazine as one article.)

      https://www.whole-dog-journal.com/care/saying-goodbye/euthanizing-an-old-dog-how-it-works-and-what-to-expect/

      Again, I’m so sorry for what happened to Ginger and you. I really feel for you and know exactly what you’re going through. You are fully justified in being so upset, and my heart breaks for both of you.

    • Dear Jason, I am very sorry for your loss. Your beloved dog would not want you to be burdened with traumatic memories. You were doing your best for her and putting your trust in the hands of the vet.
      I hope in time happy memories will take the place of grief.

    • This happened to my sweet sweet 16 year old yorkie scootiewho I love with all of my heart it was traumatizing and I’m still not over it even though it’s been almost a year and a half

    • This same thing happened to me when I had to euthanize my precious 15 yr old baby. I was told that she would be given a sedative and after a while they would give her the medicine to stop her heart. When she was injected with the sedative? she screamed so loud and bit back at me because I was standing at the end of the table holding her head and talking softly and kissing her head. It was horrible! It was so painful. I was so upset at that point , I ask how long I had to hold and love her! I was told that she was already dead…No heart beat! I thought I would die myself!

    • Jason, please find a different vet. I’ve had a bad experience like yours. It was awful. I switched vets and the others were calm and peaceful. My last dog passed while I held her on my lap wrapped in a quilt, snuggling on a couch licking turkey baby food from my hand.

  2. Jason. I am so sorry for your loss. I had to put my 12 year old Doberman to sleep last night. I’m completely traumatized and feel like she was so scared. We had the vet come to our home to do the procedure. He told us to distract my dog as he gave the sedative and said she would be asleep within 15 minutes. A couple minutes later her eyes are wide open and she moving her head back and fourth looking at everyone around the room and looked so scared and sad. I had to hold on to her head and try to comfort herself. Then the vet gave her the second shot and I wasn’t even aware until I looked down and she was dead with her head in my arms. I can’t stop crying thinking she died in fear and pain. 🙁

    • Emily – I’m so very sorry about what happened with your dog, and how traumatizing this has been for you. Something similar and also extremely traumatizing happened with me and my cat a few weeks ago. Please see my comment reply to Jason above, and feel free to get in touch in the way I mentioned if you feel that would be helpful to you. My heart, condolences and thoughts are with you. ❤️

  3. About 6 years ago I had to put down my beloved Chihuahua, Olivia, due to her having uterine cancer. It was horrifying to see her bleed non stop and even more horrifying to wake up one morning and half of my pillow was drenched in blood from her. After a long debate my husband and I decided to have her put down. I made the appointment for the following day and stayed up all night with her on the couch watching tv. The next day we took her to the vet clinic and she was calm the entire time. My husband and I wanted to be in the room with her to keep her calm, but when they stuck the needle into her arm she just screamed and flailed which knocked the needle onto the floor. The vet got another needle and again as soon as he got it into her vein she screamed. I started crying uncontrollably so my husband told the vet that we needed just a minute and to wait. He took me outside so that I could compose myself for Olivia’s sake. When we went back into the room it was empty. No vet, no tech, and no Olivia. A few minutes later the vet comes walking into the room with my beloved dog limp in his arms. The vet said that he had to take her back to the crusher cage to put her down. I will never forgive myself for putting her through that terror and for not being there for her during her final minutes.

    • Adriana, That is heartbreaking and horrifying that the vet did that without your knowledge first! THE CRUSHER CAGE OMG! I am so sorry you had to go thru that.
      I just put my beloved Bruschi to sleep yesterday and they gave him that shot of Telazol and he was in so much pain and horrified that I feel traumatized from the experience. I can’t imagine what you felt. I’m so sorry that happened

    • I would be FURIOUS if this happened to me. Please share the name of the clinic that Olivia went to- I am disgusted by the behavior of those monsters.

      I am so sorry for your loss. The dog that I grew up with- a yorkie I got to name Ginger – died of cancer last year, and the blood and glazed over eyes have forever traumatized me. I will never forget her. She died in my Mom’s arms on the way to the clinic, and I now realize how thankful I am that she did. I feel for your pain, and I am so sorry Olive had to endure what she did in her final days. She will never be forgotten, either- just like my Ginger.

  4. All the stories of terrible euthanasia are absolutely heartbreaking I am in tears reading these I had my dog put to sleep 6 weeks ago the vet tried twice to put the needle in his front leg in which he cried and struggled with then sent him into a stressful moan which he usually did when he got lost in the house or garden due to him having dementia but at least the vet gave him a sedative which made him sleep deeply before he gave him the final injection my heart goes out to everyone who experienced their pet in pain and destress in their final moments I still re live that day and always will

  5. This is all so upsetting… unbelievably so… I had the same experience with my geriatric dog who had had dementia for a few years prior. Wouldn’t it make more sense to anesthetize the animals as is done for surgery rather than to “so-called” sedate them with an extremely painful drug? How does that approach make any sense. My family thought it would be less traumatic to have the vet come to the house but it wasn’t upon hearing this poor dog (nearly blind and deaf) screaming in pain… how can that be a sedative?! My son’s G.S.D. had to be sedated for months after surgery via some tablet medication and there was no issue of pain involved. What about that? So what is a non-painful and traumatic approach? I need to know soon because my Chihuahua is failing (still undiagnosed other than sudden onset diabetes). Honestly it would be more humane to cut an artery and have a dog bleed to death than these other approaches. I only say that because I nearly bled to death myself after childbirth and it was very peaceful and un-traumatic (except for everyone else in the room – especially my husband).

    • Saroj – I’m SO sorry to hear about the horror that happened with the euthanasia of your older dog with dementia. So tragic and wrong! Sadly I can relate to this as my beloved cat experienced a great deal of emotional and physical pain and suffering during her euthanasia a couple of months ago. (Which could have been avoided using other methods.) Yes, any euthanasia sedative (or action) that causes pain or distress is completely unacceptable.

      To best prepare for a euthanasia of your chihuahua that will NOT cause pain or distress:

      1. Check out the helpful advice in the companion article to this one by the same author, on this website, called Euthanizing an Old Dog: How it Works and What to Expect. Search this site for it, or see a link to it in another one of my comments above.

      2. Find a vet who specializes in peaceful and pain-free pet euthanasias. There are many mobile services that focus on this specialty and can do the service at your home. (Note: Just because a service focuses on at-home euthanasia, doesn’t mean their focus is on making it peaceful and pain-free. Make sure that that is their specialty.) Directories of some of these services are available at sites called Lap of Love or In Home Pet Euthanasia Directory. There are also many such services who promote themselves on Facebook.

      As for the greater issue of what can be done to stop pet euthanasia atrocities from continuing to occur, there is a new organization that delivers on-site and online trainings to vets and vet techs on how to carry out peaceful, pain-free and respectful pet euthanasias. Search the Internet for the site CAETA International. (Companion Animal Euthanasia Training Academy.) Especially see their article The 14 Essential Components of Companion Animal Euthanasia. Go over all points in a pre-euthanasia conference with your vet, make it clear that you expect all 14 points to be fulfilled (especially a pain-free sedative or anesthesia), and have your vet explain to you exactly how that will be ensured.

      Best wishes for a peaceful, gentle, loving and pain-fee passing for your pet chihuahua when the time comes. ❤️

  6. I had to put my chihuahua to sleep yesterday 7/23/19 16.9 years old. They inserted the line in her front leg and gave her the sedative and said I could spend a few minutes with her but she started squealing and crying like I’ve never heard before. I banged on the door and said hurry up and put her out. They claim it’s not painful but she’s fighting the medicine. Are they really feeling pain? One time they said it’s a way of fighting to stay alive. It was not bad once he started to put her to sleep but I can’t get her crying out of my mind. My chi before did the same thing but a different sound. I don’t know but feel like I need to research this because I have one that is 14 y/o that is still with me. The sedation part should be quite and a peaceful time to talk and spend time with your baby.

    • I have had several dogs put to sleep from old age illnesses and they never once cried or struggled. They got very sleepy and then they were gone. It really does matter which Vet you use. Do some calling around and also talk to friends and family.

  7. I just put two of my dogs down 7/27/19 and one of them screamed so bad in pain from the sedation, I can’t sleep I feel like I let my fur baby down. His screams with haunt me, they need to ban this drug. Vets who give this drug have no heart.

  8. We all need to contact the manufacturers of the sedation drugs given to our animals. I did contact them but one person complaining isn’t go to do anything. I told them that I would love to give them this medication on their death bed so they would know how our animals felt.

  9. I just put my 19 year old cat down today. It took 1:48. Pure panic and terror. I’ve never witnessed something so inhumane in my life. We’ve done this before. This was so traumatic.

  10. It is out of severe guilt and sorrow that I googled “dog cried when sedated for euthanasia” and this website came up. My little one just passed on Tuesday. My vet was very, very kind…she and her tech were suppressing tears and sniffling. She explained everything that was going to happen and how quickly the sedation would work. It just never figured into my mind or any scenario that he would yelp out in surprise and pain. I was horrified and panicking and since then have been absolutely WRACKED with grief and guilt that his last moments, he was crying – in pain? surprise? fear? I am honestly not educated enough to know if it was the pain of the shot, or the medicine going through him….I just knew he was hurting and I couldn’t stop it. I held him tightly to my chest and talked as calmly as could that mommy had him, mommy loves you so much, you are such a good boy. My darling, I have you, I have you. I love you so so much. I am not happy that I found this page, nor am I saying misery loves company, but I am glad that their are others who can articulate and feel the same emotions that are driving me to near madness in this sorrow. It is hard for my friends and family to understand my deep suffering. If there is an consolation in this at all, it is this: I recently had surgery and was given sedation in the operating room…once it started coursing through me, I was alert enough and had the presence of mind to feel completely relaxed and what a pleasure it was to let go. It felt less like falling asleep and more like diving deep into the air around me. I pray that in the few seconds I had before he fell asleep, my sweet, sweet beloved dog could hear my voice loving him and reassuring him I was right there, holding him tight.

  11. Oh my, Oh my…this is what happened to my beloved special needs cat, Baby Tripod. I just can’t shake what happened, her howling at the ‘sedation’ shot in the back (spine?)…she’s never even hissed at a human, swiped or tried to bite anyone ever…she howled/screamed so loud I’ve never heard anything like it and she tried to get up (her front part of her body) and bite them. They held her down…it was beyond horrific. I failed her at the end. It haunts me and this vision keeps coming back and the ensuing part. When she was in my arms before the ‘last euthanizing part’ the actual drug her body was convulsing like she was trying to jump away and fighting it. I said ‘she’s fighting this’…and I felt absolutely horrible. He said yes she might be. He also said she may not know she’s doing it. I was in shock and just trying to stay calm. I just told her over and over again how much I loved her. She was a rescue and my promise to her was the rest of her life with me would be full of Love, Joy and Safety…always. She would always be safe with me and I’d ensure her life was filled only with love, care and Joy always. She was missing her back leg and had other physical issues when she came into my life. Before she was in my life she had quite a bit of trauma. I had her for 9 years. She was diagnosed w Kidney Failure 3 years/4 mo ago and the vet at the time said she had 3 mo…At The Very Most…1 year left. I said oh no. There has to be something. I asked if there was anything that can be done and he said No…maybe special food for renal failure.

    I said no…that’s not okay…I have to get more opinions. I found another vet and they hospitalized her for a few days and gave her fluids with an IV. She bounced right back and was the happy Tripod again. I monitored her carefully over the following years, taking her to the vet when I could see she wasn’t feeling well or had a UTI. I had to smash her food and she had to eat every 3-4 hours. I did all of this happily for her. I bought a pop up timer with 2 pop up containers that sat on a blue ice pack…so at night she could eat the freshly smashed up food. She was missing most of her teeth and her stomach couldn’t digest chunks of food. I couldn’t be gone from home longer than 7 hours. If I had to travel she would go with me (and she traveled so well!). I started an online business so I could be with her too…I knew if I had a full time day job she wouldn’t have made it with my commute time too. I loved her and loved on her. I feel that’s how she made it so long with this dreaded disease and she was happy. She was still playing, jumping around, going up and down stairs, curling up with me, doing our regular routines and purring up until the last week.

    The last week she stopped drinking, eating, was twitching and lost the use of her one back leg. She was also doing this thing called “head pressing” which I learned later that it’s a neurological issue and they’re suffering. She deteriorated fast the last week. She was suffering and I knew my cat…her eyes were glassy and with losing the mobility of her back leg it depressed her terribly since she was so independent and she wouldn’t eat or drink…even after having IV fluids in her for 2 days. I brought her home at night in between the 2 IV days as I knew she would have had a bad time without me. I tried everything to save/help her but I knew she was suffering at the end…so I made the Most Difficult decision of my life. I remembered my promise to her of love, joy and safety. She ‘chose’ me and I had a responsibility to her when she came into my life. I couldn’t take her back to the vet as I knew how it would upset her and it seemed so cold and sterile to me. I had them come to the home (vet and his tech…they did not know her…the vet who treated her the week before was out of the country then) I couldn’t imagine doing it anywhere else but home…that it would be the most peaceful thing and loving.

    I had to do a search on this as the end is haunting me sooo much…the visions over and over again at the end. I was told this would be peaceful and it was anything but. I think there needs to be more awareness out there. I always assumed this was a peaceful procedure. It never even crossed my mind this is what would happen. I don’t understand this…and am racked with these visions and so much guilt.

    • Jaymie – I’m so sorry for what happened to your beloved special kitty. 🙁 My sweet feline angel also had an extremely traumatizing “euthanasia” almost 4 months ago, and I am still haunted daily by the look of panic and hurt betrayal on her face, and the other horrific sights and sounds of that day. I am working on trying to make a difference now. If you’d like to talk to someone who understands completely how you feel because they’ve been through it, feel free to contact the author of this article, Jill, through her SheWhisperer or her Dog Decoder website and ask her to forward your email to me and she will do that. I feel your pain and my heart goes out to you. ❤️

      • Jennifer, thank you so much. I am so, so sorry for what happened with your feline angel…I wish I could change all of this, it’s so wrong and my heart goes out to you. I apologize…I did not receive a reply via email (with your note here) and I was just going through my journal of Tripod and I had saved this link while journaling a while back…I just found your heartfelt note. Thank you for extending the invitation to reach out to Jill the author and for your kindness to talk. I’m so sorry Jennifer…I understand and feel Your pain.

  12. Never mind the name of the drug.

    You should name the clinic.

    And not to make you feel worse than you do, I would have never gone back there after the first time.

    • I too googled dog shrieking when being put to sleep and found all of you. We’ve taken our 19 yr old shihtzu to the same vet her entire life. The last moments were supposed to be as peaceful & comforting as her last days & hours were. It’s hard enough to make the decision & go to the appointment, the last thing anyone wants is having these hunting final memories of pain. Blame, guilt, “what if we had done something different”? It’s a week later and I still blame myself for agreeing to take her to the one vet at the practice who we have the least amount of confidence in. As another person said, it’s helpful knowing that it has happened with others. Maybe it would gave been the same if another Vet had administered the drug and/or if we had the procedure done in our home. I’m hopeful that memories of her extraordinary life will start replacing the final moments sooner than later. She was one in a million ❤🌈🐾

      • I had my 11 you old dog Toby put down last year and I’ve seen many animals put to sleep, but never in my life have I experienced anything like he went through. He was diagnosed with lung cancer and I felt for his sake we had no choice. I expected him to be sedated and relaxed. That did not happen. When the vet injected him with the sedation, he struggled and didn’t want to be held. I finally got him in my arms and he was struggling to breath. Eventually his gums began to turn white and him tongue started hanging from his mouth. I was devastated! They opened the door a couple times and looked in for a second. After 30 minutes, he was no longer breathing, then they came in and gave him the final shot.I just wanted him to go easy. I’ll never get it out of my mind. Maybe he wasn’t ready and I forced it on him. 😢

  13. So many heartbreaking stories..I have no choice but to put my dog down due to him needing his leg amputated and can’t afford the 2000. We can’t let him live like this..what is the best sedative to ask for? I don’t want him to suffer a bit..thanks.

  14. What’s weird here is that nobody mentioned having words with the vet letting them know how horrible this was for both you and your pet! I would not have left without some very strong words reminding them that their job is to alleviate animal suffering and not to cause more! And that they strongly need to re-evaluate protocol and that you will be spreading the word.

  15. I agree..did anyone confront the vets? I will be letting mine know about this thread and the name of the sedative..they could just use Valium. Probably not as cheap I guess.

  16. omg I had a similar experience recently though I don’t know what the drug was. I’ll surely have to ask now, and give her this article. My sick little Yorkie yelped in pain when injected and the so-called sedative didn’t take effect for several minutes during which the he was lookup up and all around as if in dismay.

  17. A year ago I had to put my large Rottie down she went so peaceful, so this year I had to put down my other little Buddy a small small Pom(bother were very old and at the end of life stag). I though it would be as peaceful as my big girl, it was not. My vet regular vet was on holiday’s for a month, so I got a different vet to my home. Well this ended up to be the most traumatizing passing. The vet gave a sedation which my little dog yelped and tried to bite the vet, then we waited and my little guy still wasn’t out so the vet had to give another sedation and my poor little dog cried and cried and tried is best to get closer to me. By this time I was sick to my stomach, then we waited and finally he fell sedated and the last shot was given. The vet checked his vitals at least 4 times to make sure he was gone, I was terrified I would hear him cry again. I have such guilt now for his pain, but after reading this article and all the comments it helps. I

  18. I live in the Netherlands and like you I searched on Google for info on dogs that cried during the sedative. Exactly the same story with my dog.
    Have to find out what sedative the vet used but it’s obviously an international problem and I’m really beginning to wonder how many other pets this vet put down that ended up in severe pain.
    The only comfort is that she is now in a good place.

  19. I hope this helps a bit as I had a recent bad experience. I am in Australia and over here they use a green liquid that is injected. Nothing else before this…. it is a fast acting drug that puts the brain to sleep…. thus stopping the heart.

    I have had to pup a number of pets to sleep in my life and they, to this point just briefly look up and pass away. It is like a 2 second deal. I did just have to put my Shih Tzu to sleep and it took 2 seconds also….. but for 1.5 seconds of that 2 seconds…. there was yelping. That was a week ago and I am barely dealing with it. There is only one thing that makes me OK with it…. and this is it:

    It is not the vets fault, they were just the best on every level. It is not the drugs fault, it has always been super quick. It is just bad luck. The drug does burn if it gets outside the vein and into tissue. This can happen just via bad luck or it could be a heart condition (which she had) and not having the circulation to move the drug quickly away from the injection area.

    Either way….. she is better off now than suffering another week. I tell myself this all the time as I feel she would have felt betrayed and scared. It was horrific….. but it is just the way it goes sometimes. Just so hard to deal with however.

  20. Just like some of you, I Googled this topic. I had to put down my 12 year old American Bulldog on Monday. I was already devastated but, it was time. My Roxy loved going to the vet, it was another opportunity for a car ride and, a meet and greet. I think she was ready too because she walked into the exam room and laid right down onto the blanket they had prepared.
    She had been with this vet for over 11years. He had always been very honest and wonderful with her care. He explained the process to me (I’m a nurse so, I do understand the terms used). He warned me that the first injection for the sedative may sting and Roxy may yelp a bit. I was not prepared for the screams that happened right after that. I cannot get the image out of my mind. It was awful and lasted about 30seconds but felt like an eternity. They say euthanasia is peaceful, well that wasn’t my experience.
    I called the vet the next day to express my anger. He sounded remorseful and apologized. He told me he was even surprised by the extreme of Roxy’s reaction. I don’t know if I can forgive him.
    Veterinarians need to do better!

  21. Hi, my name is Glendita I just out my dog down 2 days ago and reading this article makes me wonder if my dog was treated the right way. I was not in the same room I couldn’t see the vet injecting the shot in him I was already heartbroken for taking him there in the 1st place…My question is what if my dog came back alive and survived the euthanasia shot and is trying to call for help 3 feet under ground inside he’s cardboard casket. I don’t know what to do I feel like digging him back out to make sure he isn’t breathing, can he survive 3 feet under grown in he’s casket!?

  22. In my personal opinion I would like to tell you of horrible experience with Dr. Susan Holt of Say Goodbye at Home in Quincy, MA which was quite different from reviews telling of a caring, engaged, compassionate and comforting person, as she was nothing like the person who came to our door. However, there were two of us present and we both agreed this is what happened.
    From the outset she never touched or greeted our dog or gave him an exam. There was no interacting, engaging or acknowledging our dog, and he looked quite tense and kept looking around.

    Waiting for some sort of guidance and direction, we were standing around, holding our dog, when she suddenly came up behind us and quickly injected our dog startling him and causing him to loudly yelp as it was painful. Never asked if we needed more time to say goodbye or if we would have liked to sit down for the injection. She was very uncommunicative, barely answering me at times. But now our opportunity was gone because our dog was drifting off to sleep.We had to quickly put him on the couch, where she instantly prepped him for the IV, causing him to awaken because he wasn’t given enough time for the sedation to work, so yet another injection was given, then the IV. We felt rushed through the whole process.

    His final exit was being wrapped in a disposable puppy pad and placing him into the overloaded trunk of her car with just enough room for him as he was pushed into a lightly colored trash bag and shoved to the back.

    This final farewell was devastating and heartbreaking and not what I envisioned. I expected so much more and got so much less. Our dog deserved better.

    Where was the Dr. Holt who takes the time to pet and talk to a dying dog, making him feel comfortable, encouraging owners to sit down and say their goodbyes before sending him to a peaceful sleep and brings them out in dignity. She did not live up to my expectations.

    NEVER EVER hire a vet who is about to go on vacation. It is too late for my dog but don’t let it be too late for your dog.

    Dr. Holt replied that in our grief, that what we saw didn’t happen and that she explained everything and how she is overworked, working 3 jobs. That you can’t please everyone and here we are (my partner and I) both agreed on what she did. But she went on to say she knows she did her best. May respond thru the Yelp app but it appears they took my experience off.

    • Disgusting. If she is “overworked”, she should not be working a job in which the LIVES of another living thing are put in her hands. What an awful human being Dr. Susan Holt is.

  23. Like many of you I googled to find out about the sedation. Our almost 15 year old cat went through a similar experience yesterday. We had planned it to be a very peaceful event (although extremely sad), with her little family around her. I gave her some relaxing medication before the doctor arrived- but not enough apparently. The vet said she’d not feel anything but a small prick when the needle entered. On the contrary. Our otherwise calm cat screamed so loud, she was in so much pain and it took forever (like 30 seconds) before she removed the needed with the sedation. Wow. We were in shock and crying and trying to comfort our hurting kitty who was seemingly very upset at us for letting her down. The whole point in having it done at home was “less stress” . The vet had to give a second sedation – as she was still moving a bit – but this time she didn’t show any signs of feeling it (maybe she couldn’t express it). The rest of the procedure went without incident, but this experinece made us swear that we would tell everyone about what to expect, and to give your pet a good amount of relaxing drugs before the vet arrives. My husband and I are full of guilt and wish we had known before we started the process. It’s very hard to think about good memories right now, all I can think of is her screams and how this otherwise very calm cat was injected with something that was very painful in the very end, organized by us – the people who committed to take care of her and protect her. I will never be able to forget this experience. Please, please distribute your messages out to as many people as possible. Thank you for writing it, and I’m sorry I read it too late.

    • Cannot believe that so many of us have gone through this with such incompetent vets. It was difficult enough to make the decision to have my wonderfully sweet cavalier euthanized, which I am still feeling torn about, but then to add to our grief by treating my dog and yours like this makes the pain worse. I am still totally upset because I looked at all the reviews and everything pointed to her being the type of vet we felt would make our dog’s final time comfortable and peaceful. Her website said to remain as calm as possible and not to get emotional as this would upset the dog, so I am holding in and separating all my emotions and she causes my dog pain and upset him. Not what I wanted for him. From the moment she walked in, the effect she had on my dog was he looked uncomfortable and tense and kept looking over his shoulder. Because my dog had quickly been sedated from around the back of us, we never got that extra time to say goodbye while he was awake, and then when we put him on the couch, And she injected him twice more, caused me to shut down and zoned out because I was so stressed out, She was local person but I wish I had gone with Lap of Love. The AVMA supposedly trains these people. I am on the fence about reporting her. Her response to me on Yelp was that things happen and you can’t please everybody and I should go to her Pet Loss Groups because of my anger and emotions. Well, that wouldn’t have happened if she did her job right. Her excuses were she works 3 jobs, has bills to pay, mother had died, her profession had high suicide rate, etc.
      In the end, we all wanted the best for our dogs and since our dogs are very loyal, loving and wonderfully forgiving creatures, they are looking down at us, and would want us to know that it’s ok, because we did our best and it wasn’t our fault, because they are at peace now and want us to remember all the good memories we had with them and will always love us no matter what.

  24. This is absolute B.S.

    This is not physically possible. This has the warning signs of a completely fabricated story and you’re a sick and twisted fucked up person for trying to manipulate people’s sympathy like this. Fuck you.

  25. Wow. I found this site and story tonight…every once in a while I still go searching online to find out if anyone experienced what I did…to find answers about how and why it happened. It’s been a few years now and it’s still painful for me – I still cry. She was my cat, my best friend. She got very sick and the vet recommended it. Now, several years earlier, I had to make the same choice for an older cat, and I remember a peaceful experience. There were 2 injections – a sedative and then the big one. She went quietly. But for this cat, it was a horrible experience. The vet was not helpful or supportive through any of the treatment leading up to the final decision. They just wanted money. I paid until i had nothing left (I don’t have much anyway)…and she was still sick. Finally, they recommended putting her to rest. The day came, and they just asked if I had any questions, and did not really explain any options for us. They left us alone for our last few minutes together. I held her in my arms. Then they came back with a syringe. She became panicked and tensed when they came near her again – she wasn’t ready. Since I had seen this done before, I thought this is the shot that will calm her – the sedative. They injected her hind leg, and…she bolted upright, backwards almost flying over my shoulder, and collapsed on me. I was in total shock, and started crying. They told me to lay her on the table so they could check for vital signs. They said she’s gone. Gone?! That was it!? I sobbed, about to cover her up with her blanket, and then it happened. The most horrible noise, like a grunting cough…and convulsions. I distinctly remember counting three violent convulsions and thinking dear God make it stop! Suddenly, it stopped. I was horrified and at a loss for words. They checked her again and said she’s gone. Again? Are you certain this time? They left us for some time, alone…me and the lifeless body of my girl – I could barely pull myself together to leave the hospital. To this day I have unanswered questions, like…was the vet responsible to explain more to me even though I had no questions? Remember I assumed there would be two shots as with my first cat and the better experience so I went with it. Did I have the right to ask for a sedative? Was the convulsing and awful noise normal? Should the vet have known better to sedate her? – she was alert and wide eyed, she was sketchy when they started to come near her. However after the above story, not even confident about the sedative. Today I have no cat and I’m literally afraid to have the whole ordeal happen to me again. I miss cat company. I miss my girls. I wish I had brought my last to a different vet.

    • Please see my story below. You are the first person to describe the noise my cat made after the first shot. I never forgot it and I never got answers to it. Perhaps it was agonal breathing? It was very disturbing.

  26. I had the same experience, many years ago with a young cat in heart failure. It’s something that will always be in my memory and one that caused me so much pain. Our cat was only a year and half when he suddenly went into heart failure. He apparently had cardiomyopathy that went undetected until he crashed. I rushed him to a large emergency vet hospital and after a day of trying to diagnose and stabilize him, he had a seizure that put him into a coma. It was recommended that I euthanize him. The vet took him out of the oxygen tank and walked us to a little room where we could say our good-byes. He explained the familiar procedure of the two shots and assured us that our cat would go peacefully. We were doing all we could to not completely break down since this whole thing was so sudden and unexpected. So my husband held him as this young vet gave him the first shot. He left us in a room alone with him to say our good-byes and told us he would be back to administer the final shot. I fully expected that first shot might even help him cross over since he was already limp and seemingly a hair away from death. How wrong I was! As my husband was cradling our cat, we both began to sob. Suddenly though, our cat “woke up”! His eyes opened and we looked at each other like this was a “miracle”; our cat was coming back to us. But instead, his claws extended all the way out, like he was grasping for his life. His eyes widened and suddenly he began to convulse; tail twitching in a circle and head jerking. But what I remember most was the horrific sound he made! He honked like a goose and it was loud! I ran out of the room in complete horror, screaming for the vet to come help us. The vet ran in, grabbed the cat and slammed him down on the cold metal table and injected his heart!! I remember just collapsing in tears, barely being able to breathe myself. The shot to the heart stopped the noise, but I went into shock. This kid vet (who really was fresh out of school at the time) said he was “sorry”, but offered no explanation to what happened. I was too traumatized to ask questions and just left with my husband, crying tears like there was no tomorrow. By the time I thought to ask this vet what happened, he had transferred out of that hospital. I doubt he could have said anything that would have helped. I know what I saw and heard that day. I even needed PTSD type counseling afterwards when I couldn’t function without hearing and seeing that last scene with my beloved cat. It’s safe to say that I have been looking up this topic for years now, wanting answers. This is the first real forum I have found with stories that ARE similar to mine. I am so sorry all. It’s not something you ever get over. At least I never did.

  27. I just experienced all This tonight. My young chihuahua with cancer. She was already in so much pain and uncomfortable and I couldn’t believe my dog’s response while I was holding her head. She actually bit me, and has never bit anyone before. I tried to hold her down and get her to sedate and I couldn’t believe how traumatic it was. Someone. Weds to create a gas sedation that smells like bacon. Fuck this shit it’s pure evil.

  28. We had to put our dog to sleep today. What a horrible experience!! The Vet gave her the sedation shot then left the room, she started (what I call) convulsing! I was bawling my heart out while holding her, my husband took her and when the Vet came back in he said she was sedated enough and her jerking and flailing was normal! He then administered the 2nd shot and told us it would take awhile as her skin was thick!? And he would come back an administer more in a few minutes. He came back and did another shot and said it wasn’t going to work most likely and her leg was bleeding from this now 3rd shot, I don’t think he knew how to give it, he said her BP was low and he’d come back in a few minutes and see if she needed the shot in her stomach! So now she had the sedative and 2 shots of whatever the 2nd part is (did I mention she only weighed 10 lbs?) He comes back and she’s still laboring with her breathing so he starts massaging her stomach and tells us she’s “enjoying this”! We noticed she was laboring and fighting it! He finally administered a 3rd (well now 4th shot) into her tummy and stayed with a stethoscope and then told us a few minutes later she had finally passed. This drug out for a good 30 minutes from start to finish. I’m completely hating myself for allowing this and second guessing our decision. Seems she suffered more being euthanized than with all the health issues we were dealing with. We are having her cremated, when I pick her up I plan on completely going off on this veterinarian office! They didn’t bring a towel or blanket to lay her on that cold metal exam table and once she passed we were told to say our goodbyes and just leave! I wasn’t going to walk out and leave her on that table alone. I’ve never experienced euthanasia as in the past other family members handled it but today my husband and I were there, my husband has done this before and told me this was disgusting the way this all happened today. He left before me to go outside and throw up! We are both completely devastated that we had to make the decision and then to watch our baby go through 4 shots total to end her life. I can’t believe a little 10 lb dog required 4 shots! Has anyone else experienced their baby needing several shots & watching their furbabies fighting each one?
    I’ll never get over this!

  29. This is a shit article. You should have at least named the cunt vet that did this. Name and shame, unless you do, other animals will go through this. It’s your fault that dog died in pain. Hope you’re happy.

  30. I had the same horrifying experience of an extreme reaction to the sedative just 2 days ago with our beloved cat. I can’t sleep thinking about how he must have suffered. I have been present during the euthanasia of numerous pets and it has always been a peaceful thing. The vet said she’d never seen a reaction like that before, but obviously this is not an anomaly.

  31. We had our beloved 19 year old cat put to sleep at home last night. It was a really difficult decision to come to and I nearly changed my mind when the vet turned up. After a long discussion about it we decided to go ahead. If I could go back in time I would. She gave him the first sedation and said it should work in around 10mins, it didn’t. Like everyone says he jumped, tried to bite me and jumped out of my arms. He then sat by his water bowl staring at us. He was fighting for his life. She tried to say it was really unusual for a cat to react like this but from reading everything I find it’s very common. What is this drug they are using???? The vets I used only specialise in euthanasia so how could they get it so wrong. He had to have three large shots. I feel like I’ve murdered him. He was the sweetest boy and we have made him suffer beyond all belief in his last moments. How can these vets get away with this???

  32. It’s really sad to read all these horrific stories of people’s fur babies. 😥
    I had to put my 17 year old Ollie down last December 14th. My 16 year old Piper will be going one of these days too, I’m afraid.
    Last year when I took Ollie in, everyone was so kind and compassionate. I have the best vet in the world…she gave Ollie the sedative, I was holding him and then about 5 minutes later gave him the next one and he just closed his eyes, had about 4 breaths in rapid succession and then was gone. 😥
    I think that’s how it’s supposed to be. I had never taken an animal to get euthanized before.
    I am so sorry for all of you that had to go through such a traumatic experience with your pet.
    When my sister took her little guy to be put down, after the vet gave him the final needle she said “oh! he’s a little fighter!” Nobody needs to hear that either! 😡
    I hope everyone’s fur babies have made it safely to the Rainbow Bridge and we will all see them again someday.

  33. omg, this has happened to two of my cats now! i thought the first one was a fluke but i just put my beloved boy down last night and this is exactly what happened. the in home vet said he wld just get drowsy and go to sleep. that is NOT what happened! i feel HORRIBLE and he did not pass away PEACEFULLY which was my biggest fear and i told the “vet” (sarcastic quotes) this. i worked for a vet 30 years ago and NONE of the euthanasias went like this. why the hell did they change it and why is this being used?! i just want to pommel these people who think this is acceptable! i am so sorry to hear other ppl have had the same experience. please please please, tell me what can be done to change this??

    • Ask what drug/procedure is being used prior to the appointment. If any drug other than barbiturate is being used, I would ask myself why, and do some on line research.

  34. When a move to a new area necessitates a vet change, people and animals are vulnerable. I had a ghastly experience once when my beloved dog went downhill very fast from spinal myelopathy. When the vet told me that they `no longer have the good drugs they used to have for euthanasia’ (barbiturates), I thought the law must have changed, as it can be a long time between euthanasias. The injection to stop his heart caused suffering, undeniably, and was vastly different from any euthanasia that I had ever witnessed. Always in the past a barbiturate euthanasia had very much seemed like going to sleep.
    The next euthanasia occurred probably 6-8 years later, with a different vet, and was totally normal. I came to believe that this man had either lost his ability to have access to abusable drugs due to problems, or was himself using the abusable drugs he should have used on the patient. Both options are bad, and he had retired by the time the next euthanasia came about and I was able to connect the dots.
    It can be hard to ask questions when one is under pressure from one’s emotions and our animal’s suffering, but we have to be reasonably assertive. If something seems off, even with people like vets, or other generally trustworthy people, we should listen to our instincts.
    My current vet does not do the tranquilize to say goodbye, 2 shot process. Her practice is that owners should say goodbye before the appointment. This makes sense to me, because vets are busy, euthanasia is stressful for vets and their staff, and because getting into the vein can be challenging when animals are old or debilitated due to low blood pressure, etc. so it makes sense to do it only once.

  35. I had my beautiful Siamese cat put to sleep last friday and I ve lost so much faith in the vets that i gave ownership to my best friend whom uses pdsa..and she was treated with kindness.
    Isn’t it sad that we have to go to such extremes to get a better treatment for our beloved pets from vets whom actually charge the Earth .

  36. We just went through the most horrific experience I have ever witnessed in my life. It was a very long in coming, hard decision in the first place to put our beloved border collie, Lola down humanly, or so we thought the process would go. She was 15 years old and had been suffering for some time now with severe arthritis and 6 months prior experienced a vestibular episode, which somewhat resembles a stroke, but in this case the dog loses all sense of balance, tilts their head excessively and circles endlessly. Her episode lasted almost 6 weeks, but she improved enough to continue a somewhat normal life. She needed help with stairs to go outside, but we were more than willing to oblige. It wasn’t until a week ago that we began noticing her pushing her head into hard surfaces when we realized that the time has now come to let her go…..to free her of her failing body. We wanted only the best for her, didn’t want her afraid in a cold veterinarian office. Wanted her as comfortable and pain free as possible, so we opted for an in home vet to come out for the procedure.
    I will never forget the fear in her eyes and the sound her frail mouth made as she was snapping at the air, trying to reach the injection site on her hind quarters where the vet administered the sedative to relax her. I’ve never had that happen before in any previous pets we’ve had to let go. After a few minutes she finally gave in to the sedation and fell asleep. After another 5 minutes he asked if we were ready to finally let her go, we nodded yes, and he began looking for a vein to administer the lethal injection. He couldn’t find a vein, or if he could it rolled. He must have jabbed her 40 times in the first leg before moving to the second leg. Same results, on to legs three and four. Still can’t find a vein to get the injection in. Now she is bleeding from all four now shaved legs and he starts injecting this blue liquid into what he says is a vein finally. After a few minutes she is still breathing and he gets a second vial. The jabbing begins again, to no avail. He injects this vial, and then a third and fourth vial. She is still with us. He now begins injecting directly into her veins with a huge needle and it still does nothing. He has to flip her over to get to her left side. All of us with her witnessing this are now sobbing and in complete shock at what is happening in front of our eyes. One would think it couldn’t get any worse, but yes, it did. He is now at this point trying to tell me he is looking for a vein in her chest, when in actuality he is injecting directly into her heart. Again it took two injection and at this point I lost track of how many jabs it took him to hit her heart. She finally took her last breath nearly one hour after this all began. What was supposed to be a peaceful goodbye turned into one of the most horrific torture scenes I could imagine. He now asks us how we want him to pick up her body. Do we want her in a blanket or just in a plastic bag….I will never forgive myself for making this decision. Lola deserved better, and so did the rest of my family who were witnessing this.

  37. You are all crying about how horrific and traumatic seeing your pets last moments in the hands of vets lethal injections yet still happy enough to make such an inhuman decision to end their life in an unnatural way!!! The problem is that by the multi billion $$$ medical sector you are conditioned to believe that ending the life of an ailing or sick pet is perfectly humane and right as you are falsely made to believe you are ending their suffering in this SO called humane way!!! However when you witness the last moments of these helpless souls in the hand of the vets without their consent you are traumatised as your trusted companions that last look in your eyes hunts you and probably tells something different than you were thinking! They trust you unconditionally, they love you unconditionally so the last thing they probably think that you would make such a decision to end their life without their consent simply because they are ailing or sick!!! Yet most of you wouldn’t even dare to think about making such a decision for a member of your own human family when they get ailed or sick! However when it comes to your pets you can easily make such an inhuman decision! Western hypocrisy at its best! Those so called animal lovers will argue and probably will say that animals can’t talk for themselves so they can’t tell if they are in pain so us humans should end their suffering if we think they are not well! If that’s the case then there are millions of severely disabled human beings on planet earth that can’t talk for themselves so they should be also put down to sleep by their families or guardians! How would you know this disabled humans would like to be dead or alive? Another thing is that some other so called animals lovers will tell you animals can’t talk for themselves so they are vulnerable so they need to be protected yet ironically it’s mostly these kind of people that would agree it’s very humane to make a decision on their behalf to murder them if they are ill or ailing! Hypocrites!!! No one has the right to make a decision of ending the life of living being particularly a pet animal as they can’t talk for themselves! You’ll never know exactly if they wanted to be dead and you will be hunted forever for making such a decision! The purpose of life for both humans and animals on planet earth actually is not much different than eachother. Both will try to live until their last breath! If you truly love your pets than you should let the nature take it curse on them and let them die naturally at their most favourite place which is probably is your home or backyard! Then you will be in forever peace knowing that you didn’t end their life and they died peacefully at their most favourite place with the people they loved!

  38. Ohh…before making a such an inhumane death sentence for your pets, just look at animals in their natural habitats and how their natural cycle works. They do get old, sick, injured and might be in great pain before they die but this is just the natural cycle of their life and the pain also is part of this natural process!

  39. Heartbreaking to read so many stories of euthanasia gone wrong. I want to say thank you for sharing this information. I used these experiences to make a decision on my cat who passed on Friday. The vet I went to had a 5-injection process that was wonderfully fear-free. They inserted a catheter first into my cat’s leg. That was really the only uncomfortable part for her. Next, they gave her pain meds and she spent her final moments purring and pain-free. We spent 30 minutes with her in that euphoric state before the vet injected the anesthesia, then the euthanasia, and two more syringes of saline to flush the medications. This is now the standard I will hold for any animals I will have to put down in the future. My heart goes out to everyone who had to endure distress in their pet’s final moments.

  40. I have had several dogs put to sleep from old age illnesses and they never once cried or struggled. They got very sleepy and then they were gone. It really does matter which Vet you use. Do some calling around and also talk to friends and family.

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