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Perpetration-induced Traumatic Stress in Persons Who Euthanize Nonhuman Animals in Surgeries, Animal Shelters, and Laboratories

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This study explored possible identification of Perpetration-induced Traumatic Stress (PITS) in workers whose occupations required euthanizing nonhuman animals and determining whether event or person-related factors influenced symptoms. The sample included 148 animal workers: veterinarians, veterinary nurses, and research and animal shelter staff. The Impact of Event Scale-Revised (IES-R) assessed traumatic stress. Experimenters constructed additional scales measuring satisfaction with social support, participation in various types of training, and concern over animal death. More than 70% of participants reported affinity toward animals had strongly influenced their occupation selection. Half the sample perceived animal death—particularly euthanasia—as one of the least desirable jobs. Of the sample, 11% reported experiencing moderate levels of traumatic symptoms. The study found lower levels of euthanasia-related stress were associated with increased satisfaction with social support and length of time working with animals. Those who reported high levels of concern about animal death reported higher levels of euthanasia-related stress. The study found occupational context was not associated with different levels of euthanasia-related stress symptoms—even though reasons for administering euthanasia differed significantly between occupations.

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