From: Bruce Williams, DVM
Date: 2001-04-20 19:26:00 UTC
Subject: Re: Euthanasia topic, etc.
We let him do the autopsy because he wanted to learn from it. Okay.
> However, the condition of her body when we got her back, I felt, was
> unacceptable. He had sewed her back up, but there was dried blood
> around the incision. I felt that if you have the decency to
clean up a
> living ferret, you should clean up a dead one too. Especially
since she had
> been having seizures, so her tongue was stuck out and she had
bitten it, and
> their was blood there too. She looked in such pain, it was
It may very well have been that he had rinsed her clean before
returning the body. Unfortunately, after death, the clotting
mechanisms are not working well, and blood tends to flow more
freely. an Animal that is perfectly clean shortly becomes bloodied
as it is transported.
Regarding the possibility of judging pain post-mortem - you just
can't do it. Animals that died in pain will look totally peaceful,
and those that died peacefully may look as if they died in agony.
Rigor occurs 1-2 hours after death - you can't make judgment calls
about the cause of death due to positioning or posture.
Usually, when I perform a "cosmetic " autopsy, I try to talk with the
owner to let them know what I have done, and to warn them that if
they look at the body, it may not be as presentable as they might
expect. Animal autopsies do not involve embalming or the extensive
preparation that occur with humans. But they do provide useful
information, and that, in most cases, is the most important factor.
With kindest regards,
Bruce H. Williams, DVM, DACVP
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