By law, pets are property. However, few of us who dote on our companion animals look at them that way. We consider them part of our family. But what happens when that family member becomes ill and the cost to restore his or her health is out of reach of our budget? What happens when we must move and our family member is not welcome to live with us? How do we handle our family member when he or she becomes old, incontinent, hard of hearing, blind, yet is not sick or in pain or discomfort?
We’d all like to think we’d do the right thing. We’d come up with the money; we’d change our plans to move to include our companion, and we’d get doggie diapers if needed. And some of us will. But some of us won’t. Some of us will refuse to spend the money necessary to even diagnose our companion’s problem, let alone fix it. Some of us will try to find a new home for our companion, or take the animal to the local shelter and let them deal with our family member when we don’t want to take him or her with us. Still others will take their family member to the veterinarian and ask that he or she euthanize their companion.
What sort of moral dilemma do we put our veterinarians in when we ask them to kill an animal for our convenience? Euthanasia, often referred to as the “good death,” is hardly good if the animal can still enjoy life. What right do we have to tell our veterinarians to kill the very beings they went into veterinary practice to heal? What kind of ethical issues do we raise when we decide to ditch our responsibilities to our companions? When you think about it…euthanasia should be for the right reasons, right?