"Euthanasia IS humane" is a general statement that someone posted on an email list yesterday and a couple of people concurred, including the list moderator. I wanted to take issue with that general concept but, alas, the moderator (who actually started the sub-thread with "Euthanasia *is* a humane option" which was followed by the initial quote where "is" was capitalized and those 2 were followed by a 3rd more extensive insistence from someone with "years" of animal shelter experience) would brook no discussion if it disagreed with her "fact". Well, my goodness, what's a blogger to do... Gee, guess I'll blog about it.
"Animal euthanasia (from the Greek meaning "good death") is the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, an animal suffering from an incurable, esp. a painful, disease or condition. Euthanasia methods are designed to cause minimal pain and distress. Euthanasia is distinct from animal slaughter and pest control" Now I can get behind that technical definition of euthanasia. But read on...
- Behavioral problems (that usually cannot be corrected) – e.g. aggression
- Illness or broken limbs that would cause suffering for the animal to live with, or when the owner cannot afford (or has a moral objection to) treatment.
- Old age – Deterioration to loss of major bodily functions. Severe impairment of the quality of life.
- Lack of homes - many shelt
- Terminal illness – e.g. cancer
- Lack of homes - many shelters receive considerably more surrendered animals than they are capable of re-housing.
How is a behavioral problem "an incurable disease or condition"? MAYBE you can persuade me it is an incurable "condition" but it darned sure isn't a disease.
"Old age – Deterioration to loss of major bodily functions. Severe impairment of the quality of life." Same question, same answer and, since the very definition of euthanasia includes withholding extraordinary care for the purpose of allowing a natural death, active euthanasia is in no way mandated. You see, classically, a "good death" includes natural deaths and we are not required to hasten death.
"Lack of homes - many shelters receive considerably more surrendered animals than they are capable of re-housing." WTF? How does that meet the definition of euthanasia AT ALL? One would have to have a warped brain to think that humanity's inability to place pets in homes (or return them to the homes from whence they were lost) constitutes an "incurable disease or condition". But then I've already noticed the serious impact the raving ARFs are having on Wikipedia. No doubt one of them will run over to change the very definition of euthanasia to better suit their willful killing of healthy animals.
The killing that goes on en masse in animal shelters MAY be humane but it is KILLING, not euthanasia.
At another extreme: "So you know, plenty of veterinarians in private practice feel just as I do. We will not euthanize healthy animals, ever." The "healthy animal" in question: "eleven-year-old large-breed mix, which I’ve been treating for five years for his chronic liver disease and osteoarthritis". OK, let's start with LARGE dog with arthritis. Think about having to haul around this large dog because he's having trouble walking. Oh, and YOU are elderly, well, at least "older" AND you've just inherited this dog because someone died. And then there's the liver disease too. "In many cases of liver disease, specific treatment is unavailable. Treatment is mainly supportive and symptomatic, such as administering subcutaneous (SQ) or intravenous (IV) fluids to prevent dehydration, providing adequate nutrition, and giving medications to control vomiting... Some types of liver disease are not curable, but with supportive care, the patient may still be able to live a comfortable, though shortened, life."
This dog is 11, been in treatment already for 5 years and probably has a shortened life expectancy. This dog is NOT healthy.
On the one hand, we have ARFs claiming that killing for space constraints is "euthanasia" and a veterinarian calling euthanasia of a old, sick dog "Convenience Euthanasia". I can certainly understand why those in kill shelters want to soften their convenience killing into "euthanasia" even though it isn't. It is of interest to note that more and more of these kill shelters are participating in animal seizures, after which they frequently perform their convenience killings upon animals that the owner might have had difficulty persuading a vet to euthanize because the vet would have considered it a convenience euthanasia. I can even understand why veterinarians who promote pet insurance which "prompts owners to use more extreme medical measures to prolong their pets' lives" would expand their concept of what is ordinary care, moving items from the extraordinary realm to the ordinary in the process.
You and I, the average pet owners, are caught in the midst of all these competing interests. ARFs who want to seize our animals while accusing us of atrocities so they can do fund raising while killing healthy animals. Veterinarians who promote insurance because it ensures their paychecks while jacking up the "reasonable" care standard. Always follow the money!
You and I, the average pet owners, need to bring all these people back to center, back to reality. The animals are our property, not subject to redistribution or destruction at the whims of others.
Pet insurance carries a very serious risk for us all. Right now, it is reasonably priced but it is already promoting a higher standard of pet care and the pet health insurance "business is not yet profitable, because of the high rate of claims". Pet insurance prompts us to more extreme measures which become considered ordinary but the insurance companies will have to raise rates to cover all those costs and there goes the spiral of us expecting more and more extraordinary care as ordinary care and we WILL have to pay for it. In the meantime, we raise the standard for what we consider ordinary care and that opens more and more to accusations of atrocities for failing to meet those rapidly rising minimal care standards.
Ain't that sweet? For now, the ARFs and veterinarians rake in oodles of dollars and the ARFs rake in our animals too or perhaps we cave and provide the animals with better medical care than we can afford for ourselves. While the ARFs call their convenience killings "euthanasia", if you can't afford more than nominal care, your veterinarian may accuse you of asking for a "convenience euthanasia" and refuse to perform it putting you at risk of being accused of animal cruelty. Then the ARFs thieve ALL your animals, put them on TV begging for donations to tend them, and then take half or more of them in the back room to be killed.