The dangers of compassion fatigue in animal caregivers

Taiwanese animal shelter director and vet commits suicide due to guilt in having to euthanise 700 dogs in shelter:

According to Chinese media, she left a note, explaining how she had become too distressed with the fact that she had to put too many dogs to death.

However, Jian’s last words have not been published in full.

Jian, who is reported to be 31 years old, worked at the state-run shelter for some years and was described as a kind-hearted and dedicated person by her colleagues.

She worked helping bring sick and stray animals back to health before helping find them a new home.

According to reports, she strived to help re-home the dogs and also tried to promote adoption instead of purchasing however she later revealed that she had been forced to euthanise 700 dogs in just two years.

She spoke of these figures during a news report in which animal rights activists called her a ‘female butcher’ in the comments section of the story.

Chinese media has reported that she became upset with the name-calling as many people did not understand that the animal shelter capacity is limited and they were struggling with increasing numbers of animals being abandoned.

She was put under pressure to provide a resolution.

Jian was found by police and her husband after having injected herself with the euthanasia drugs. She died in hospital a week later on May 12.

Elisa Allen, Associate Director of PETA told MailOnline: ‘The reality is that there are simply not enough homes to go around for the millions of unwanted animals who are euthanised every year.

‘It’s left to shelter workers like Jian Zhicheng, who love animals so much, to do society’s dirty work because so many people fail to do the one thing that could alleviate the animal overpopulation crisis: spaying and neutering animals.

Please, if you are an animal caregiver, please get the animals under your care neutered. We offer our neutering aid:

About compassion fatigue among animal caregivers and workers:

Depression and suicide in animal caregiving professions:

To all animal caregivers, please take good care of yourself so that you can continue taking care of the animals under your care. Just do your best, and please do take a rest too.

3 comments to The dangers of compassion fatigue in animal caregivers

  • Koo

    IMHO, this suicide is not solely caused by compassion fatigue. She was pushed over the edge by the ‘name-calling’ of those armchair ‘animal rights activists’. That’s why it’s important for everyone in the animal welfare community to consciously only give weight to constructive criticisms and opinions from learned and informed contemporaries and peers working towards a holistic solution rather than be easily affected by keyboard warriors or some demented rescuers out there.

  • chankahyein

    Very true, Koo. Every word of what you said. Here’s a milder (much, much milder) comparison: When I was living in my old neighbourhood, I was criticised for letting my cats roam (I had no means to confine them then), accused of endangering their lives. Now, in my present house, I built a whole cattery for them whereby they have a room, a fairly big garden, a pantry, sunshine and green grass, and I’m criticised for “putting them in jail”. So, how can I do right by these critics? In running AnimalCare as well, I’m criticised for being not strict enough (by some donors), and I’m also criticised for being too strict (by the applicants). Ultimately, to survive in this endeavour of trying to help animals, I have to keep telling myself on a daily basis: This is the best I can do. My conscience is clear. Say what you want.