Pet “Euthanasia of Convenience”

Introduction

“Euthanasia of convenience” is a quote from an English animal behaviour expert2 who was referring to two dogs that are in the news today (19th Sept 2013). They are Brus and Blade. They were the RAF dogs that guarded Prince William before he quit the service to take a year off.

Rus was euthanised because he was a “risk to himself, his handler and others” – he had behavioural problems. That is strange because Prince William often gave Brus a pat on the back. If Brus had behavioural problems he wouldn’t have been able to do that, would he? Both dogs were put down soon after William left the RAF base. The timing was declared by the MOD as “coincidental”. More like convenient, I’d say.

The phrase “euthanasia4 of convenience” struck me as very apt. Spot on, in fact.

It got me thinking about cats, shelters and the rehoming of relinquished cats; one of my pet topics….

Adopt a cat from a shelter

Cats and Euthanasia of Convenience

The major reason given by the US shelters for euthanising cats is that there are too many cats and not enough adopters and homes. They will also quote that old cliché, the “behavioural problem”. The “behavioural problem” is the catch-all reason for euthanising cats and dogs. It is convenient to use it.

It is also convenient for people to dump cats at shelters when they are tired of them with a feeble excuse. It is convenient for shelter management to conveniently overlook the fact that it is a complete myth that there is not enough homes for all shelter animals, cats and dogs.

It is not that there are not enough homes. The problem is that there are not enough people who adopt cats from shelters.

There are about 8 million shelter animals in the USA. Every year 17 million Americans adopt a new companion animal, which is more than twice the number of shelter animals that need homes.

It is simply more convenient for 80% of these 17 million Americans to buy a companion animal rather than adopt one from a shelter3.

The “buyers” will acquire their pet from stores and breeders. Or they may get their cat from friends who have failed to neuter their cat(s).

When a person takes a cat off the hands of a neighbour for a small sum of money or for free it encourages the informal breeder’s behavior. She or he will continue to do it, which in turn results in more euthanasia of convenience at shelters. It is a double whammy situation.

The converse also applies. Adopt from a shelter and the fee goes towards helping more cats and dogs. It makes the shelter more effective. I guess it is inconvenient to think of these things.

3.7 million cats and dogs are euthanised at shelters each year in the USA. You have to conclude that it is more convenient to accept this mountain of death year in and year out rather than address it and find real, hard, long lasting solutions.

Notes:

  1. I have read that the percentage of euthanasias is dropping gradually, which is excellent news. It is certainly much lower than in the 1970s. There is still lot of work to do.
  2. My apologies to Dee (Florida) and Americans but I can’t avoid writing about it especially when a Brit animal behaviour expert makes such a great quote. His name is Dr Roger Mugford.
  3. americanhumane.org – American Humane Association.
  4. Most so called “euthanasia” is actually killing because the animals are neither in pain nor suffering.
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Comments

Pet “Euthanasia of Convenience” — 7 Comments

  1. No apology necessary for the article, Michael. I’m home now and about as sane as I ever was!

    Anyway, euthanasia for convenience is so commonplace that, I think, lots of people see it as normal.
    Shelters, ofcourse, are the worse offenders but have the law on their side.
    But, many people do it themselves still. They’ll shoot their poor chained dogs. The hunters in the national forest near me shoot theirs also or just leave them behind to starve once hunting season is over. Some still drown litters of kittens. I was told that a man in my neighborhood placed a litter of kittens in a sealed box and ran a hose from his car exhaust pipe to the box.

    On a lighter side, I had the privilege of hearing my vet having a brief and angry conversation with a woman who brought her dog in to be euthanized. It was an active and healthy looking mix about 5 years old. The lady was leaving on a lengthy vacation out of country and felt euthanization was the easiest and cheapest way to solve the problem of what to do with her dog. My vet told her, clearly, that he would never consider putting an animal down for convenience AND, if that was the best idea she could come up with, then she should never have pets. She stormed off with her dog. But, I would bet my life that she found a vet, amongst the 50 -60 around here that accomodated her.

    • lots of people see it as normal.

      This is correct. Euthanasia of companion animals is normalised in some households. It is all about how you relate to your cat or dog. Some people still live in the dark ages in their relationship with cats and dogs. Go back hundreds of years for the same attitude.

      The lady was leaving on a lengthy vacation out of country and felt euthanization was the easiest and cheapest way to solve the problem of what to do with her dog.

      This is a proper vet although he or she probably declaws. Does he? Anyway good for him. Well done. He wasn’t chasing money. This is a classic and pure example of “euthanasia of convenience”, the great disaster of the domestication of the cat and dog.

        • Dr. Kramar should be put on a pedestal. A wreath should be put on his head and rose petals showered over him. He should be worshipped as a God and he should be given the equivalent of a knighthood in America and made the chief executive of the AVMA… and more…. 😉 Sorry got carried away slightly.

          • LOL! He is a very old southern gentleman and has many years of experience with all animals including livestock and horses. He doesn’t believe in declawing, tail docking, ear cropping…
            I can hear him saying, “Tarnation, Dee, the way God made them is good enough, Girl!

            • the way God made them is good enough, Girl

              I can hear that accent myself. He is the old school. He sounds like a God fearing man, stepped in good old fashioned values.

              I like that “tamation” word. Makes me laugh.

  2. You are right Michael, it’s not euthanasia, it’s killing!
    Euthanasia is a gentle death to release an animal from suffering, killing a healthy animal is murder!

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