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Ethics of Pet Ownership


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Initial post: Dec 14, 2012 5:43:46 PM PST
neonpisces says:
OK, here is a personal issue. I have a dog that has cancer. As the cancer progresses she will be in increasing pain to the point where it becomes excruciating.

Humans have life/death decisions over animals...which means I can euthanize her without consequence. My question is if and when?

This is not a small question of ethics. It applies to all animals that are other than human.

From a Christian perspective, I'm very interested in your discussion. Our religion does not address other species. Still, does my dog have a right to her life that precludes intervention from me? What, from a specifically Christian perspective, is my obligation to her? Please extrapolate to animals generally.

For non-Christians, I want to know what you would do and why.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2012 6:11:36 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 14, 2012 6:13:07 PM PST
Peony says:
neonpisces, I'm so sorry about your dog! What a terrible situation for you and your beloved pet. You are the only one who can make this decision and you are the only one who can weigh the practical with the emotional to come to the decision you feel is best for you and your dog. I can tell you from personal experience that it's very, very hard to make the choice to have a vet euthanize a beloved pet. But the way I look at it, you are responsible for your pet in all areas of her life and that, unfortunately, includes having to make a decision to allow that pet to be put out of her suffering. I believe that to do this difficult, wrenching thing is a testimony to your love for her and an honoring of your lives together. She cannot ask for relief, she can only suffer and look to you for help. Best wishes and again, I'm sorry you're going through this.

[edited to correct typos.]

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2012 6:51:59 PM PST
S. Friedman says:
Well first, that really sucks and I don't envy the position you're in.

To your question, here's the perspective of one non-believer:
It's pretty much a given that when we acquire a pet, we know we're going to outlive it. Experiencing the death of a pet, while depressing/unfortunate, is simply unavoidable, expected.

When the end approaches in the way you've described, I would doubt that delaying the inevitable benefits you or the dog. We know that dog's in pain, and presumably you'd be consumed by worry and pain in knowing the dog's in pain -- and the joys that come with pet ownership would be diminished.

Not saying the decision to put the dog down is easy, but I'd choose to relieve the pain.

Good luck.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2012 9:07:17 PM PST
mrs exp says:
neonpisces,
It's sad to here about your dog. I've lost pets and it hurts. As a Christian I think God wants us to care for animals in a humane way and so I don't think you should let him suffer.
exp

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2012 9:20:51 PM PST
Astrocat says:
neonpisces, I had my beloved cat "put to sleep", in 1993. I wrote this poem the next day:

CAT'S EYES
Nancy McDonald Davison

We looked into each other's eyes,
hers golden flecked, unflinching,
mine filled with tears.
I thought of all the years she'd been my friend.

Those eyes, then fixed in sightless stare,
caused mine to overflow.
I stroked her lifeless hair,
then took her to the Gila,
where I left her buried `neath our Mother's leaves.

But as I left, she let me know
that it's all right -
she had been mutely asking,
with those golden eyes,
for this one act of mercy to be done.

June 9, 1993

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2012 9:53:02 PM PST
QUESTER says:
neonpisces says:
OK, here is a personal issue. I have a dog that has cancer. As the cancer progresses she will be in increasing pain to the point where it becomes excruciating.

Humans have life/death decisions over animals...which means I can euthanize her without consequence. My question is if and when?
-----------------------------------------------------------------
Your dog's life is in your hands.

It's your responsibility to give them a good life ... and to shelter them from discomfort.

I would want to end my dog's life BEFORE things got hard for her.

I'm sorry you face this dilemna, but I know that you are up to the task of deciding in your dog's best interest.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2012 10:04:27 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 15, 2012 4:28:02 PM PST
My pets are my children who happen to wear furry suits.

If I were suffering as my pet were, what would I want done ?

Prov. 12:10a "The righteous man takes thought of (or cares for) the life of his animal"

PS My current vet turned me on to something I always insist on: sedating the animal with a regular anesthetic into unconciousness prior to administering the actual euthanizing chemicals -- it makes it far better on both me and my pet, especially if the pet's condition includes resperatory complications that will make them metabolize the euthanizing agent slower than a pet that doesn't have pulmonary involvement !

Usually if the pet is no longer active or comfortable, it's time -- especially for cats who as a species tend to roam away from home and die by themselves.

Posted on Dec 14, 2012 11:00:43 PM PST
Dr. Mikey says:
neonpisces,
Your question has been on my mind as I had my 17-yr-old cat put down last month. He is the fifth animal I have had to have euthanized (4 cats, 1 dog). You will want to talk with your vet about the right "time." Certainly, as soon as your dog experiences pain that will be chronic, or is unable to walk or maintain bodily functions, you will want to relieve her suffering. I trust that your vet has a special room for letting her go. My first four experiences were not easy and were a bit "clinical' because they were performed in a "regular" examining room. I have a new vet and this time the experience was much more positive. The room was tastefully decorated, had soft music playing, and had a soft table -- not at all clinical. The staff were very kind and loving during the entire procedure, both with kitty and with my wife and me. Though it's difficult under any circumstances, letting go is much better in a special environment. Please insist on it.

As far as the spiritual aspect of your decision, I think you are right that the Christian religion does not address this specifically. The Bible says that we have dominion over animals, but I believe that comes from the Hebrew God as interpreted by mortal men living in a desert culture a few thousand years ago. Consequently, it is both culturally and temporally bound. And sadly, I think animals have been exploited because of this belief. I'm not sure Jesus himself made clear his views on animals. I would think one couldn't go wrong by showing loving kindness to all creatures. Some religions do respect animals more than others. I have admired American Indians for their belief that animals are sacred. I believe that "life flows on within you and without you," and that all sentient beings have a life force, including a future that we do not understand. The Texas country singer and writer Kinky Friedman has said that heaven is a place where we meet up again with all the animals we have known in this world. I think he's right.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2012 11:11:59 PM PST
Omnireader says:
Speaking as a Jew I would request that folks read how completely the Tanakh covers laws to regulate the care of animals and the urgency of not giving them pain, even emotional or psychic pain.

I have had several animals that had to be put to sleep. My cats usually live about 16 to 20 years old. It is my duty to give them surcease from pain, and to enable them to live a joyous life for as long as possible.
When fatal illnesses or accidents make it impossible to live without pain it is up to me to be their loyal and true friend.
It is my duty to hold them and look into their eyes as consciousness fades from them and they pass away. My face and my arms are the last thing they see and the last thing they feel.

My vet is very good and knows my kitties and me pretty well.

Posted on Dec 14, 2012 11:45:53 PM PST
Jack Vix says:
Well, if your dog is a Christian, euthanizing him will be win-win because she will go to eternal bliss. But if it's a muslim or atheist or something, it's straight to hell.

In all seriousness, I wouldn't want anything to suffer unecessarily, that's a big part of the basis of morality, to stop unecessary harm. It becomes a trickier question with death involved since we can't get consent from a dog. However, if they could talk it's not like they could even comprehend the question, they're dumb animals in the moment. They don't even know they're gonna die. Besides, it's not like it'd live forever otherwise, She's gotta die sometime and if she's only got misery ahead I don't see why you would want her to go through that. If you love her then you should put her down, no need for her to suffer. It's not like dogs have legacies or jobs or fulfilling obligations and goals. Better off dead.

I'm sure they'd be able to tell you when a good time to do it would be.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 14, 2012 11:48:50 PM PST
Jack Vix says:
The law to preserve life is only for humans? It doesn't extend to all of God's creatures? I would assume obviously that human life is of higher value, but it doesn't extend to preserve all life?

I guess it wouldn't because then Jews would all be vegetarians/vegans right? I was just curious about what exactly the Jews feel about life vs human life.

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 1:07:42 AM PST
dischism says:
I'm a non-Christian.

I think it's a question of balance. When life becomes a misery with no pleasure because of suffering, it's time, no matter how painful for the owner, to allow the beloved pet a merciful end. I've done this for my cats and dogs.

I'm so sorry.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012 1:09:56 AM PST
Lily says:
I am against euthanasia. Period.

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 10:13:35 AM PST
Dr. Mikey says:
@Advent Lily: surely, you are not in favor of allowing animals to suffer until they die?

Posted on Dec 15, 2012 10:17:52 AM PST
Mike Kai says:
The Bible does state very clearly that humans shall have power over all the animals of the earth, shall care for them, feed from them and live by them.

So if you have a pet that is suffering, it is your responsibility to care for them until you feel it is best to put them to sleep, or set them free in a wild area to die of their own freedom. Do not feel bad for them now, just help make the end much less difficult for them, and know that whatever route you take, you will not be violating true Christian guidelines set forth by the Bible.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012 10:30:14 AM PST
"... or set them free in a wild area to die of their own freedom ..."

No, that would be an example of being *irresponsible*... not responsible.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012 10:48:00 AM PST
M. Simonson says:
"From a Christian perspective, I'm very interested in your discussion. Our religion does not address other species"

One Christian view would be that you are the steward of everything under your control and that would include the welfare of your animal. You go with your best call, which would probably be to stop the suffering when it becomes obvious that it's really that bad.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012 11:24:06 AM PST
Mike Kai says:
"No, that would be an example of being *irresponsible*... not responsible. "

No, your view of "responsibility" is modern day political correctness pushed forth by uneducated and anti-religious that all plants and animals demand treatment equal to humans, which is false according to the Bible. Nowhere does it say that "pets should be allowed to live until nature takes them out" or "pets are to live as humans live and their lives ended in the same manner".... So you are just flat out wrong.

Gods nature that he created shows that strong animals consume the weak, a sick animal in nature being consumed has been happening long before Christianity as a religion came along, but the bible does allow us to do what we feel we need to by consuming, caring for or releasing the animal as we see fit. Releasing a pet into the wild allows nature to take its course, for them to live as short or long as nature dictates. Attaching humanity to an animal is not Christian-like. Yes we can care for, love and treat our pets well, but treating them like a human is just wrong. Put them to sleep or set them free when they get old or sick beyond a cure, that is how to handle pets, not humans.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012 11:45:49 AM PST
House pets are not equipped to live in the wild.

They will starve to death, die of disease, or be killed by a predator.

So yeah, turning your pet loose in the wild is an irresponsible act. Period.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012 12:47:53 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 15, 2012 12:48:28 PM PST
Absolutely true. A few years ago some animal rights people set up a hidden camera in an area frequented by people who would dump their pets there. The poor dog would wait in the same place, seemingly waiting for their person to return and pick them up. It wouldn't take much longer than 8 hours before a coyote or bobcat would come along and kill the former pet. Abandoning a pet in the wilderness is cruel. If you want your pet dead, just pay for a humane euthanasia.

To the OP, it's a great sadness to have to make this decision. Usually, your per will tell you when it is time. They'll go through a personality change and get grumpy or mean or they'll stop eating altogether. Best wishes for a challenging time ahead.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012 12:49:57 PM PST
Bubba says:
Animals that are normally kept as pets are not wild animals, releasing them into the wild would be a totally unnatural and cruel thing to do to them. Dumping a cat or dog into the wild is no different than dumping grandpa into the wild to die.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 15, 2012 9:38:44 PM PST
Yog-Sothoth says:
Omni: "It is my duty to hold them and look into their eyes as consciousness fades from them and they pass away. My face and my arms are the last thing they see and the last thing they feel."

My dog has been with me for over 15 years now. He's partially blind, deaf, arthritic, but not apparently in pain (I pray not). He is still happy, greets me with enthusiasm and love when I come home from work. I feel blessed to be owned by him...

I know the day will come soon that I will face the scenario you describe above. Even after 24 years as a US Marine, having seen death and faced danger numerous times, I don't know if I have the strength to do what you have had to endure. I pray God eases the pain you must have felt.
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Discussion in:  Christianity forum
Participants:  18
Total posts:  22
Initial post:  Dec 14, 2012
Latest post:  Dec 15, 2012

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