In today’s blog, Julian Omidi discusses the ethical arguments for and against animal euthanasia.
Animal overpopulation has been a significantly prevalent issue in the U.S. for the latter half of the century. Millions of cats and dogs are put down in animal shelters every year for lack of homes and responsible owners. There has been some conflict on whether or not euthanasia is the best solution, and if so, in what way it should be performed. Notorious animal rights group PETA turns out to be in support of euthanasia, which is quite clear in their official statement on the subject: “an intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital administered by a trained professional is the kindest, most compassionate method of euthanizing animals.”
There are still U.S. facilities that utilize electrocution or decompression chambers to terminate animal lives, which are objectively more painful. Many argue these methods are outdated, and that using an intravenous injection is the most humane way to minimize suffering.
However, studies suggest that veterinarians who perform these procedures daily experience more depression and are even more likely to commit suicide than doctors. Nearly 1 in 10 will experience serious psychological distress as a result of their work, and some claim this number may even increase as they are called on to perform more and more euthanizations.
Dr Bruce Fogle, a veterinarian with almost 50 years of experience, says the hardest part of his job is to tell an owner their pet needs to be put down. But he does believe that it’s the best decision in most contexts: “some of the euthanasias that have stayed with me for years on are those that were absolutely justified.”
Cat and dog overpopulation is one of the major reasons there are so many euthanizations performed in the U.S. Whatever your ethical stance on euthanasia, remember to spay and neuter your pets, and help ease the burden of our dedicated veterinarians!
Be good to each other,