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Euthanasia of Shelter Companion Animals


The CFHS accepts that euthanasia of companion animals is a necessary and humane means to end the lives of animals that are in severe or incurable physical distress or for animals with severe behavioural problems, such as aggression, that pose a threat to humans or other animals. The CFHS also acknowledges that open admission shelters and animal control agencies are too often faced with the difficult decision of euthanizing healthy, adoptable animals rather than turning animals away when they have no more space for all the animals in need in their community.

Promoting responsible pet ownership and companion animal adoption, as well as reducing irresponsible breeding are the most effective ways of addressing pet overpopulation and reducing the burden on SPCAs, humane societies and municipal animal services.

The CFHS supports the use of only humane methods of euthanasia carried out by trained personnel to ensure the animal experiences no more than minimal discomfort, fear or anxiety.


Humane societies, SPCAs, rescue groups and municipal animal control services all play an important role in providing a safe haven for animals in their communities to be reunited with their owners or to find new homes. The CFHS applauds these groups and joins them in promoting companion animal adoption and responsible pet ownership, which includes spay/neuter, permanent identification, lifetime veterinary care, appropriate nutrition, grooming, and shelter, and adequate human/animal socialization.

When shelters reach the point of overcrowding, it threatens the welfare of all animals in a facility due to stress, weakened immune systems and increased risk of disease transmission. In such cases, euthanasia decisions are made in the best interests of the overall population as well as the individual animals.

In concert with humane organizations and veterinary associations across North America, the CFHS considers euthanasia by injection of sodium pentobarbital to be the preferred method. The CFHS acknowledges that for reasons of limited financial resources and lack of access to drugs or to veterinarians, many shelters are unable to use this controlled substance. There are other methods that are acceptable when performed according to strict standards and protocols. No matter what method is used, euthanasia must only be performed by properly trained and certified personnel.

November, 2010

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