SALDEA’s Euthanasia Policy

SALDEA believes that every animal’s life matters. We make life-and-death decisions based on the fact that all the animals in our care are important.  We do everything in our power to help our animals heal if they are sick or injured.  Euthanasia is the remedy of last resort in terminal cases, and is only undertaken to prevent incurable suffering.  We only agree to terminal euthanisia if it is recommended by a veterinarian.

In cases of trauma, significant or chronic illness, or starvation: if an animal can be saved, we do everything we can to help the animal recover.  The recovery process might be expensive, complex, or lengthy; but if we accept an animal, we do everything we can to help it.  We do not give up on a sick or struggling animal, regardless of the time or expense involved.  

In cases of animals with special needs: if an animal is FIV/FeLV+ or has a disability, we will not euthanize the animal if it has a good quality of life.  FIV/FeLV is not an automatic death sentence – cats can live with these conditions for many healthy years.  An animal with a physical disability (eg., blindness, deafness, or missing limbs) or a cognitive disability (eg., inborn anxiety) can also live a full life, and will not be euthanized because it is not “attractive” or “perfect.”  Instead, we look for the right home for these special animals.

In cases of terminal illness: if a vet informs us that an animal has reached the terminal stage of an incurable disease, such as cancer, and that its suffering can no longer be relieved, we will euthanize it when all other remedies are exhausted.  We never euthanize an animal because it becomes too expensive or inconvenient to care for.   

In cases of sterilization: if a female dog’s or cat’s pregnancy is so advanced that the babies would be viable, we do not sterilize the animal. Not only would such a surgical procedure kill viable babies, it would be a dangerous and complicated surgery for the mother. We wait until after the litter is born.  We sterilize in cases where the animal is in the very early weeks of pregnancy before the babies are viable and before the uterus is significantly enlarged.  

In cases of full foster homes: We never euthanize animals to make room for other animals in foster homes.  We will therefore decline to accept new animals if our foster homes are full.  We only accept new animals if a foster home can be found.  No current fosterling will be sacrificed to make room for newcomers.  

In cases of dog bites: We do not accept dogs that have a known history of aggression, thereby preventing most cases before they occur.  Sometimes former street dogs have behavior issues. For example, former street dogs can display food aggression or fear, both of which can lead to bites in very specific contexts.  We sterilize the dog as soon as possible and try to place such a dog with an experienced foster who can help it unlearn antisocial behaviors.  If a dog bites a foster, we remove the dog from the foster’s home. We keep dogs with behavior issues in foster care until we are confident that they will be safe in an adoptive home.  We are very careful to adopt dogs with difficult histories to experienced owners in households without young children. However, if a dog bites in its adoptive home, we would reclaim the dog if the owner no longer wants it.  By only accepting dogs with steady temperaments, by sterilizing dogs as quickly as possible, by working with the dog while it is in foster, and by placing the right dog in the right adoptive home, we aim to avoid 99.99% of all dog bite situations. We do not automatically euthanize a dog that bites – we try to figure out why it happened, and what kind of environment will be most appropriate for the dog.

Because euthaniasia is a remedy only of extreme last resort to relieve incurable suffering, we limit the number of animals in our care.  We choose to do right by the animals we do accept rather than maintain a high rate of turnover.  If anyone has further questions or concerns about SALDEA’s euthanasia policy, they should contact us at


This policy was reviewed by the Board of Directors and approved by voice vote in a regularly scheduled Board of Directors meeting on June 28, 2021.  The policy is hereby effective and in force as of the date of approval, and will remain in effect until the Board of Directors issues an updated version of the policy.