When do you euthanize a beloved companion?

It’s time to admit it. I’m scared. I feel like I’m on a rollercoaster with the final destination of either heaven or hell; and every loop, rise and drop sends a rush of emotions through my gut.

Such is life with a terminally ill horse and BFF.

Just a week ago, I was sharing our jubilation that perhaps, maybe, knock on wood, we’d settled into a pattern where we were effectively managing Anastasia’s metabolic disorder, which triggers debilitating and destructive laminitis. But then the temperature dropped and our little love bug went from strutting her stuff like the beauty queen she was born to be, to freezing in agony.

Can we be doing more?

I feel like we’re doing everything we can to keep Anastasia comfortable. In addition to severely restricting Ani’s diet to only low-starch, low-sugar forage…

  • We’re giving her vasodilator injections and rubbing her pastern arteries with nitroglycerine twice a day ($200 a week) to keep her blood pumping through her damaged hooves.
  • We’re giving her Bute twice a day. ($36 a week)
  • In addition to all of her metabolic disorder supplements ($35 a week), we’re giving her MSM and a new powder (which she HATES) that’s supposed to help with hoof circulation ($5 a week).
  • She wears a blanket when the temperature is below 50 and we wrap her legs and feet with heating pads and thermal socks.
  • The vet and farrier are supposed to come today ($300) to change her wooden clogs and I’m going to request a venogram (who knows how much that will cost) to confirm what I already know – the cold weather shuts off blood supply to Ani’s hooves, thrusting her into excruciating laminitis.
  • We’re building a special climate-controlled stall for Ani, which will probably cost about $2,000. (We can justify the cost because we know Ani won’t be the only horse that will need such accommodations.)

It’s supposed to warm up today, but it’ll take Ani days to heal from this bout with laminitis, and the cold weather will inevitably return as soon as she’s comfy again. Can we be doing more?

Sick horses make kill buyers and brokers rich

Kill pens and slaughterhouses are filled with horses like Anastasia – who probably got too expensive and time-consuming to keep. Maybe her owners reached the point where they concluded she should be euthanized, and rather than pay a vet $300 to put her to sleep and dispose of her remains, they made a few bucks off her poor, aching meat and didn’t care about the agony she’d suffer on the days-long journey to the 9th ring of hell. (Of course, with as much Bute as Ani’s had through the last several years, her meat is toxic; but that didn’t save her from slaughter.)

We’re spending more than $300 a week (and countless hours), just to manage one horse’s ailments; and we have a dozen more that need our time, attention and money. But as long as Ani has a will to live (and trust me, she does), we’ll do whatever we can to save her, just like we did with Ralphie – the $350 horse with the $6,500 tail.

We believe we can stabilize Ani and develop a plan to manage her metabolism and stave off future laminitis attacks. It’s just a matter of learning all her triggers; which, unfortunately, only comes with experience. (The good news is, we’ve almost had her a year, so there should be few more surprises.) Once we have a plan, Ani can live a happy, healthy, productive life with the right adopter.

Saying goodbye to Ani

There may come a day where Anastasia can’t recover and she suffers more than she struts; where I look into her crystalline eyes and no longer see my spunky little BFF. Should that day ever come, Ani will leave this world in her quiet, cozy home, feeling the warm embrace of humans who love and cherish her to her last breath – not in a loud, filthy, violent hell where she’s beaten, shocked and tortured to death. Her last feeling will be love – not terror.

But that day is not today.

I know I tell you this every day, but we truly can’t do this without you. There are many ways you can help us save and rehabilitate Anastasia and horses like her:

We know you’re inundated with requests to support worthy causes; but if Anastasia’s story touches your heart, please share it with others so the world will know what’s happening to some loyal companions once their owners decide they’ve outlived their usefulness.

An ailment should not condemn a faithful companion to hell.