Veterinarian Anne Currah has been working the graveyard shift at Southeast Portland VCA Animal Hospital for nine years, and this article shares a typical night. The hospital is filled with animals suffering from trauma, intestinal obstruction, pancreatitis and asthma, and the waiting room is full, too. Treating animals in such serious condition means dealing with death is inevitably part of the job, alongside delivering life-saving care. Discussing euthanasia is difficult, according to Dr. Currah, but important. "You have to have a really big conversation up front," she said. "Do we continue, considering the prognosis and the cost?"

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