This ethnography analyzes the daily activities and beliefs pertaining to animal euthanasia of two animal care workers in a city in the Midwest. The names of people and places have been changed to ensure confidentiality. Three interviews, along with personal observations from site visits to the animal care center, constitute the entirety of the data for this ethnography. Previous research relating to animal euthanasia has been conducted using the person-non-person continuum to explain the stress felt by veterinarians as well as looking at blame assignment by those involved in pet euthanasia. Using this literature as a starting point, influences on the formations of specific beliefs regarding animal euthanasia were assessed. Initially, euthanasia was viewed as a stress on the workers that required a coping mechanism. As the research progressed, however, a system of beliefs held by the workers was discovered. This system shaped how they viewed and conceptualized animal euthanasia. Therefore, rather than coping with hardship after each euthanasia event, the animal care workers developed a set of beliefs, influenced by training, pet overpopulation, and daily activities, that controls how they are affected by euthanasia before any problems develop.
Nathan Olafsen, ’08 Monona, IA
Major: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Sponsor: Alfrieta Monagan