Living conditions aren’t safe for my friend’s dog who has a loss of strength in his hinds legs and he has discussed euthanasia. What is the best approach to take in this situation?

Original Question: A friend of mine has had his Alaskan Malamute since he was a puppy and now at the 15 he has developed a severe loss of strength in his hind legs. I haven't seen any signs of pain but we are afraid that he will be badly hurt one day soon because he’s not able to get up the very steep steps of their basement apartment without assistance and then when he comes back in he invariably takes a tumble. When I initiated the conversation, my friend jumped in to assure me that he had already been contemplating "putting the dog down" as he phrased it and I was shocked! What I was going to suggest was surrendering to the Humane Society or Animal Services and especially a Senior Dogs Adoption Shelter and he said he would have to think about it. My gut tells me that this dog needs to be living on a floor that has the exit on it, which this man cannot provide. The two people who are even more familiar with the situation agree something has to change. The premises are so cluttered there’s seldom a place on the floor where the dog can lie down without being dangerously precarious like sliding on a pile of books. The glaring example for me the other day was finding two saws on the carpet with the blades facing the hall that a dog's Achilles tendons have to pass closely by! The "last straw" was when my friend brought a huge golden puppy into the family and aside from doubling the cost he already can't meet I have witnessed the puppy knocking the senior over. What would you do if you were in my position? - Lianne

Living conditions aren’t safe for my friend’s dog who has a loss of strength in his hinds legs and he has discussed euthanasia.  What is the best approach to take in this situation? Mar 4, 2018

Hi Lianne,

This sounds like a tough situation and it’s good to know that you are involved in having already spoken to your friend.  It’s a very tough situation and it’s difficult to know how far you can push.  It may not be feasible to surrender or re-home the older dog as many people are hesitant to adopt a dog with health problems and shelters or rescue groups are often overburdened with residents.  You could try to reach out to your friend, maybe with help from their family, to better reason with him.  As far as adding the puppy, people will do what they choose to do for various reasons, including how they spend their money.  It may also be a way for them to manage any guilt or grief they might be having over the impending loss of the older dog.  Only through delicate conversation can you better understand where they are coming from.  As a last resort, you could contact your local animal control or SPCA but be prepared to lose your friend in the process.

Best of luck.

Dr. Ryan Llera

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