The topic of euthanasia is assuredly accompanied by heartache. Yet it has to be discussed, because sooner or later many pet owners/caregivers have to confront this eventuality.

so140112steveLast week we used the entire column to offer opinions relative to a pet owner using ‘financial inability’ to pay for the cost of treatment to the sick animal as a valid argument to euthanize the pet. “I can’t pay for the treatment, so kill the dog.” We felt that, while other reasons might be more convincing, we (owner and veterinarian) should find a better solution to the problem. Some suggestions were made in last week’s column.

Today, we’ll address some really not-so-valid arguments used as reasons to euthanize companion animals. Notice that I did not say ‘invalid,’ because there is always some ‘reason’ that can be posited to justify the decision to terminate an animal’s life. It’s just that I find some of the ‘not-so-valid’ reasons not to be always sausive enough. Actually, the list is not at all complete, since it never fails to amaze me how some pet owners can concoct the most disingenuous and frivolous reasons for killing an animal.

Let’s look at a few of these ‘not-so-valid reasons.’

I think we can agree that we live in a throw-away society. It might begin with styrofoam cups, plates and boxes. It evolves to shoes, garments and other fashion accoutrements – like purses, belts, ties, etc.   (During my years I have seen ties move from thin strips to broad bib-like pieces of cloth; from single colours to a kaleidoscope of decorations). The affluent nations seem to have developed a science of purchasing and discarding items.

20140907dogShould I, in this context, refer to children who are discarded to homes, then adopted, then discarded again? Perhaps I must, because this is one of most encountered reasons why pets are ‘put down.’ The companion animals, having outlived their usefulness (eg, racing greyhounds, performing dogs, old hunting dogs, etc), or their cuteness or trendiness, are brought to the vet for euthanasia. In this category fall all those mother dogs who are reared in puppy factories only to produce litters, one after the other, until they collapse from reproduction distress. In fact, as I write this, I am forced to wonder how those callous ‘breeders’ discard the mother dogs when they can no longer conceive or produce healthy litters. Perhaps the GSPCA, the Guyana Veterinary Association (GVA) and all the animal activists should join forces to deal with all aspects, including euthanasia, of this puppy-farm business.

A colleague, Dr S O’Meara, has this to say:

“Unfortunately for pets and for the shelters that have to constantly rehome unwanted and dumped animals, pets are all too often becoming the silent victims of a ‘trend’ or ‘fad’ society. These animals are not seen as individual living creatures with valuable lives of their own, but as things to discard when we no longer need or want them or when the next fad comes along. People want to be like Paris Hilton (2007-08) and own a ‘tea-cup’ or toy dog breed that can be carried around in a glamorous bag. Unfortunately, these animals also crap, vomit and wee in the designer bag, which is not so glamorous, and they do get old and less cute and suffer from medical issues and, worst of all, they do go out of fashion.”

Killing a healthy pet simply because it is no longer cute, pretty, fun, fashionable or useful to you is simply not acceptable. If you are unwilling to commit to caring for a pet’s life for the long term (up to about 12 years for the dog and 16 years for the cat) or beyond the time that the animal is in fashion or useful, then you should probably not take on the responsibility of a pet. Get a designer dress instead. If you already have such an animal and you are contemplating putting it down, I would urge you to rethink this course of action. If the unwanted animal is healthy and has none or only minor behavioural defects, then these unwanted animals will often be accepted at the Animal Clinic and Shelter of the Guyana Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and rehomed (and, yes, some people do want adult dogs and cats and even old animals to own and love).

We will continue next week with some other not-so-valid reasons for permanently putting an animal to sleep.

Until then, enjoy your week.

Please implement disease preventative measures (vaccinations, routine dewormings, monthly anti-heartworm medication, etc) and adopt-a-pet from the GSPCA’s Animal Clinic and Shelter at Robb Street and Orange Walk, if you have the wherewithal to care well for the animals.  Do not stray your unwanted pets, take them to the GSPCA’s Clinic and Shelter instead. If you do not wish your pet to have puppies or kittens, you may exploit the GSPCA’s free spay and neutering programme. If you see anyone being cruel to an animal, or if you need any technical information, please get in touch with the Clinic and Shelter by calling 226-4237.

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