- This Week
DEATH ISSUE: Death is part of life at San Francisco's SPCA
10.29.13 - 4:03 pm | Joe Fitzgerald Rodriguez |
Emma, who needs an amputation after a severe fracture, at the SF SPCA's "no kill" shelter.GUARDIAN PHOTO BY AMANDA RHOADES
"I always check in with Lauren, 'are you okay with doing this today?' It's easy to get burnt out," she said. Kuzminski's colleagues do the same for her. Though she's seen a lot of animals through their last days, she says the hardest loss she's dealt with on the job was a dog named Coco.
When Coco came in, she was already suffering. She couldn't walk, and couldn't eat. They amputated her leg. When her esophagus closed, they took turns feeding her intravenously. The small staff grew to love Coco. The team worked with her for six weeks, in shifts. Ultimately, she didn't make it. When Coco was euthanized, Kuzminski was out of town on business.
"The difficult thing about when Coco died was I wasn't here for my staff," she says, her voice fluttering a bit as she speaks. "You really want to win."
But sometimes, you don't win. And with the short lifespan, fragility, and sheer number of animals in pet-loving San Francisco, the staff of the SF SPCA sees a lot of death. For Lane, it helps to think of death as a part of life, something she learned here.
"As sad as death is, it's inevitable. We all try to make the death, the passing of this animal, as easy and as comfortable as we can make it," she tells us.
When a pet passes, they give a card to the foster owners, but it's not a condolence card. It's a thank-you card. "I think I'm much less afraid of (death)," she says. "You get that feeling of, well, we've done everything we can, and now we say goodbye. It's not an awful thing, it's not terrible. It's about how you've spent your life. "
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