Dr John Bradshaw writing on the Psychology Today website stated, “Or even (as does happen) take the cat to be euthanised by a vet before she departs, knowing that it would be easy to obtain a replacement from a shelter when she eventually returns?”
He is referring to a cat owner (and it could equally well apply to a dog owner) asking their veterinarian to euthanise a perfectly healthy companion animal because the owner is going away for a while and it is convenient to kill the animal and adopt a fresh one on their return. It sounds impossibly callous.
It’s called convenience euthanasia and of course I’ve heard about it before. I was then surprised to read an article in The Globe and Mail, a website based in Canada, in which the author stated that, in general, veterinarians in that country are ambivalent about taking instructions to euthanised pets for convenience purposes. Some do and some don’t. It is up to the individual client and veterinarian.
We are told that the owner and senior veterinarian at the Carney Animal Hospital in Fairfax, Dr Eric Carnegy, said in May 2017, “Unfortunately in law, animals are considered a property so what happens to them is up to what the owner decides”.
We all know that cats are the property of their owner in law. But I disagree with him because he is insinuating that cat owners have a choice to have their cat euthanised even if they are healthy and can ask their veterinarian to do it. Yes, cat owners have a choice but vets don’t. All veterinarians in Canada do not have a right to accept the request because their oath prevents it and therefore clients should not ask them to do it.
There is probably an obligation on work colleagues at a clinic to report a veterinarian who is in breach of oath to their association. There may be sanctions and there may not. I don’t know how seriously the associations take the oath. However, it is a fundamental part of the work practices of veterinarians and therefore it must carry weight.
The Canadian veterinarians’ oath includes the following line:
I will strive to promote animal health and welfare….
Clearly, deliberately killing a healthy animal is not promoting animal health and welfare so why do veterinarians think they have a choice to accept or deny a request from a client who wants their animal put down despite being healthy?
Incidentally, the same conundrum exists in respect of cat declawing. I’ve mentioned it before but many thousands of veterinarians in North America, particularly the USA, are consistently and routinely in breach of their oath for accepting a request to declawed cats. Clearly in the USA a veterinarian’s oath counts for nothing. What does that say about the veterinary profession?
Dr Bradshaw wrote Cat Sense, a successful book about domestic cat behavior.
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