In the United States, Animal euthanasia has been increasing steadily. A survey tested over the last 20 years found that the number of animal owners who view their pets as members of the family has also increased with 95% of respondents agreeing, while in almost all the surveys, the number is over 80% (Rollin, 2015). So why do people make the choice to kill these family members? Proponents of animal euthanasia argue that they put down their pets to help end pain and suffering for both the owner and the pet itself. Meanwhile, some vets claim that the killing of a “”family member”” is unethical and wrong. Although putting a pet to sleep can help end the animal’s suffering, animal euthanasia can also be misused and do more harm than good.
Veterinarians are taught to help pets and animals live healthy and happy lives, but there is a moral dilemma when they forced to kill these animals that they were instructed to save. These veterinarians experience extensive stress in their lives, including the stress of euthanasia. “”We have conducted a systematic review of studies investigating suicidal behaviour and psychosocial problems in veterinary surgeons… [Veterinarian’s] occupational stressors included managerial aspects of the job, long working hours, heavy workload, poor work-life balance, difficult client relations, and performing euthanasia””(Platt). These veterinarians are risking their lives when they strive to heal and help sick pets, but instead they end up putting down many of them for various unethical reasons. This idea then brings up the question of, is it okay to harm veterinarians’ health and mental state at the cost of putting down an animal?
Animals are unable to consent to their own deaths. Ethically, medically killing a young child is unfair to the kid because they are not old enough to understand what is going to happen to them, this same concept should apply to animals. “”According to several behavioral measures, research suggests that dogs’ mental abilities are close to a human child age 2 to 2.5 years.”” (American Psychological Association). This means if a 2 year old can not legally consent to their own death, then neither can a dog. If euthanasia is to be justified, it should be with the patient’s consent, human or animal. However, since a two-year old is not mentally capable or competent enough to give consent, then a dog should be held to the same standard because their intelligence is at the same level. Suffering and sick humans can tell others if they want to be kept alive through medicine no matter how much pain they may be in, but they can also tell those same people that they want to be killed through medicine as well.
Overpopulation euthanasia should not be tolerated in shelters. Shelters make room for new animals by killing their current inhabitants. “”I had discovered every community’s dirty little secret–that hundreds, if not thousands, of healthy pets are killed simply because there are not enough homes for them. Most people would never support such a practice if they knew it was occurring”” (Boks). Healthy animals do not deserve to die simply because there are too many animals in one place, especially when there are other alternatives to help them like building new shelters, having adoption drives, and sending animals to more underpopulated or No-Kill shelters. Shelters euthanize these animals to make space for new animals, yet many of these euthanized pets are still adoptable because animals that are old, have a treatable sickness, and have medical conditions can still find homes through special-needs adoptions.
Pet owners can take advantage of euthanasia in order to get rid of their pets. These pet owners treat their animals as disposable property rather than living beings. “”Animal advocates are calling for an end to the euthanization of healthy pets purely for their owners’ convenience, a practice veterinarians acknowledge is an unfortunate fact of their profession…[convenience] euthanasia is also not prohibited by legislation at the federal and state levels”” (Leavitt). Healthy pets shouldn’t be put to sleep simply because the owner doesn’t want them anymore. With humans, when a child is abandoned by its parents, the government steps in to rehome the child, this should be the same with neglected animals. This inhumane way of discarding pets should be illegal because convenience killing is irresponsible and immoral.
Animal life is devalued when people are used to seeing them die. “”People may become desensitized if they are surrounded by the killing and suffering of animals”” (Frank). Animal lives should not be seen as less than because humans created animal euthanasia. People should make it a habit of asking ‘Why should an animal die?’ and ‘Why should I kill my pet?’ rather than believing that they should not live simply because of society’s acceptance of euthanasia.
Animal lives are important and should be treated as such. When many people consider their pets as family, the death of a family member should be difficult, but it isn’t fair to make that decision for the animal for convenience or for space. Passing over the burden of death is still the same for vets and shelter workers because taking a life is never easy. Euthanasia should be called by what it is, killing. If euthanasia truly is a necessary evil or a pet owner’s kindness, then the lives of these animals should also be treated as necessary. Society must first acknowledge its failure with the carelessness of these lives and start to make a change by collectively holding pet owners, shelters, and veterinarians to a higher standard for when it is truly imperative to put these family members to sleep.
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