ST. PAUL, MN – After watching and hoping for nearly 3 years as their 15 year old Shih Tzu “Schnitzel” languished in the veterinary ICU in a persistent vegitative state, the Krowaltsky family has decided to withdraw life support on their dear friend. The decision has strained both their emotions and their fragile family relationships.
The Krowaltsky’s journey began on a dark day 3 years ago when the dog was hit by an ice cream truck whose alluring chimes had drawn her near. Schnitzel, injured from the accident and never having had the benefits of human language, did not have the opportunity to complete a “living will” for healthcare. Without guidance as to her wishes the Krowaltsky’s bravely forged ahead with life support, but after three years without even a glimmer of recovery, they decided it was time to let go.
“This isn’t a life she would have wanted – a life were she can’t eat Cheetos, bark at the coffee maker, or lick frost off the windowpanes. It’s time to stop the respirator, take out the feeding tube, and let her die a natural death,” said family spokesperson Janet Krowaltsky.
The decision had been made and actually was planned for one week ago, but just before withdrawing care, conflict arose. Justin Krowaltsky, their somewhat detached youngest son, heard that they were “pulling the plug” and rushed from Vancouver to Minnesota to save the dog that he loved.
“I think about how Schnitzel waited for me every day at the door in high school with her face pressed against the window, and the fact that they can’t just wait a few more years…it makes me sick to my stomach. Sure, I haven’t been around to visit much, and I haven’t been able to help with any of the vet bills since my paintings haven’t been selling, but that doesn’t mean I don’t love her,” said 23 year-old Justin Krowaltsky, who just completed his most recent series of abstract works, entitled “Silence and Potatoes.”
Justin attempted unsuccessfully to hire a lawyer, then chained himself to the dog’s ICU bed to make known his dedication to saving Schnitzel. Unfortunately, his 24-hour-a-day strike was ended two days later by having a “real cheeseburger craving” and needing to catch his return flight to Canada.
“I did everything for Schnitzel,” he said. “It’s out of my control now, but at least I know I tried to do the right thing. The rest of them can pull the plug if they want, but it’s Schnitzel’s blood on their hands.”
The rest of the family remains at peace with their decision.
“We feel like we’re doing the right thing for Schnitzel. Justin has a lot of growing up to do,” said Janet. “He told us when he left St. Paul that he’d never speak to us again, but he called 6 hours later to ask for money to buy a new smartphone.”
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