The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association has officially spoken out against the widely criticized “euthanasia” of a wild bobcat kitten that found itself trapped in Oak Hill School last week.
The OVMA sent the criticism in a letter to Superintendent Travis Hampton of the Oregon State Police.
“We question why both matter and method of euthanasia occurred without veterinary advice,” the statement signed by OVMA President Constance White says. “No immediate need for a discouraged method of euthanasia was present and there was ample time to seek guidance.”
On Oct. 15, an approximately 6-month-old bobcat kitten was killed after wandering into Oak Hill School, a private K-12 school near Lane Community College. State officials pointed towards guidelines set by the American Veterinary Medical Association in defense of the decision to euthanize the kitten by manually applied blunt force trauma.
Later in the week, a second bobcat came onto school property. It was captured, given a series of health tests and re-released that same day, according to an Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife press release.
Brooks Fahy, executive director of national wildlife advocacy group Predator Defense, first received the information about the bludgeoning via emailed questions to ODFW. He provided Eugene Weekly the email exchange that he had with Joe Stack, assistant district wildlife biologist with ODFW.
In a statement sent to EW Monday, Oct. 28, OSP writes that the inability to safely discharge a firearm led to the decision to quickly kill the kitten without veterinary assistance. They say that the bobcat walking into the school alone is abnormal enough to warrant euthanasia.
The statement says: “The chosen manner in which this animal was euthanized (blunt force trauma) was to ensure the safety of the officers involved. A single strike rendered the animal deceased instantly. Note this is a humane method of euthanasia according to AVMA guidelines.”
However, OVMA, the only statewide association devoted to the practice of veterinary medicine, says in the letter that the use of blunt force trauma was neither safe nor compliant with the guidelines set by the AVMA in 2013.
Speaking directly to OSP in the letter, OVMA says “you inappropriately cite the American Veterinary Medical Association’s guidelines on humane euthanasia without context and with omission of professional standards and applications therein. In those guidelines, physical methods involving trauma are discouraged because of higher risks for both animals and handlers.”
Fahy says that euthanasia is meant as a last resort for sick and diseased animals.
“They could have easily released it like they did the second bobcat the following day,” Fahy says. “This kitten wasn’t acting abnormally or aggressively. This was a wrongful death. It was brutal and it was unnecessary.”
The full letter is below.