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NEW Resource: Results of the euthanasia communications + support survey are now available

Earlier this year, while attending Animal Care Expo with many of you, every conversation I had seemed to lead to the following questions: 

  • How do we compassionately support our staff when they struggle with euthanasia AND hold them accountable for getting their job done?
  • What can we do to protect our decision-makers, who are often blamed and criticized by other staff and volunteers and are increasingly distressed and traumatized by this aspect of their job?

I decided to send out an informal survey asking:

  • What's working well in your organization regarding the euthanasia decision-making process, communications, accountability for harmful behaviors, and effective support for staff distress?

I’m not a researcher, and my survey was far from scientific, but I wanted to pass along the thoughtful, compassionate responses to all of you. 

My hope is the collective wisdom shared in the survey will be of benefit to anyone looking for ideas or guidance around one of the most complicated areas of our work with animals. 

On The Compassion in Balance website, you’ll find the survey questions, along with summaries of the responses, and a selection of direct quotes. 

Click here to read (it’s long-form in the extreme, so grab a cup of coffee first) and please do share the page with anyone who may find it useful.



“All learning arises through doing, but the most frequent problem is the “learning,” not the “doing.” Our organizations and societies are full of doing but deficient in learning. 

I believe there is no more telling indicator of the absence of collective wisdom than the inability to learn as we go. It is characterized by rigidness and dogma. It is characterized by low trust and the inability to talk about difficult subjects where people must recognize their shortfalls. It is characterized by maintaining a façade of confidence and competence that masks insecurity and fear of failure. 

Conversely, collective wisdom is most evident in quiet confidence that our “not knowing” is our strength, that the ability to ask deep questions is more important than offering superficial answers— and that imagination, commitment, patience and openness, and trust in one another will consistently trump IQ over the long haul.”

― Alan Briskin, The Power of Collective Wisdom: And the Trap of Collective Folly


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