Is it Ethical to Euthanize a Healthy Pet?Published February 7, 2012
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Given this frightening situation, some pet owners will ask their veterinarian to euthanize their pet if a suitable home is not found within a specified period of time. But is this plan to end their beloved pet’s life really fair to the animal, or is it just the owners’ selfish means of dealing with their concern about their pet’s future?
In Ariel Kaminer’s recent column "A Dog's Right to Life”, appearing in the online New York Times Magazine, Kaminer explores this very dilemma. After consulting with animal liberation advocate Peter Singer, she arrived at the conclusion that, though it may seem at first like those pet owners who make the request to euthanize their pet are condemning their pets to the most "capricious of death sentences”, the owner's actions, in actuality, reflect the most human of fears, as they are just "trying, however misguidedly, to get their affairs in order."
Since finding suitable homes for elderly or aggressive pets can be extremely difficult, some veterinarians feel humane euthanasia requested by the owner is the kindest way to assure their pet will not be surrendered to a shelter–where euthanasia is a likely prospect anyway.
On the other hand, Kaminer offers those veterinarians who are ethically uncomfortable with requests for unnecessary and untimely euthanasia the advice to simply guarantee that the pet will be adopted into a loving home.
But is Kaminer’s advice more ethical than humane euthanasia? Is it fair to simply give the owner peace of mind by promising that the pet will find a loving home, even if that prospect cannot be guaranteed?
Without a doubt it is difficult to think about our own mortality. Yet, when coupled with concerns of who will take care of our beloved pets when we no longer can, it can become unbearable.
Considering these circumstances, do you think it is ethical to euthanize a healthy pet? Share your thoughts in a comment.