How long does it take to euthanize a puppy?

"It takes 25 seconds," Liz pauses. "That is, it takes 25 seconds for death to occur. They are given an injection of sodium pentobarbatol. It's just an anesthesia and is used on humans. We give them a massive dose to put them to sleep."

"As part of an Animal Care person's duties everyone must become certified as a Euthanasia Technician. That way no one has the sole responsibility of euthanizing, and we all take turns on a rotating basis. But no one is asked to perform the duty until they feel able to do it."

Who gets the "Emperor's thumbs-down" more often? Dogs or cats?

"Of all the animals put to sleep, most are cats. There's a large population of feral cats, and sometimes they're un-adoptable because of their temperament. I really want to point out that euthanizing is always a last resort, and we work with a lot of rescue groups to make sure it doesn't have to happen."

Liz shows me a spreadsheet breaking down how animals are processed at the shelter. Indeed, out of the thousands of animals that go through the shelter, only a handful are put to sleep.

As the shelter is closing, Liz gives me a quick tour, taking the time to show me how "cute and sweet" the very adoptable pit bulls are. As we enter a back room, we are both startled by a flying sparrow that's loose in the building. The sparrow flies around until it smacks into window and falls to the ground.

Liz picks up the bird and speaks sweetly to him. "Are you alright? Are you going to make it?" After a few awkward, silent seconds she announces flatly, "I think we're going to have to euthanize him."

We wait in the room for a few minutes waiting for someone to show up and give a second opinion. Liz seems anxious as the bird twitches, gasping for breath. She is either prolonging his pain, or giving him a second chance.

She decides not to wait, taking him outside to see if he can fly. She lets the bird go and it quickly flies away. We watch as it flies into a field and over the rain-stained incinerator where they cremate the animal carcasses.

What are you? An inhuman monster? Save a puppy or kitty by calling Multnomah County Animal Control, 503-988-PETS (7387) MANU BERELLI