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Why Must We Euthanize, Part II

Written by PETA | May 14, 2009

PLEASE NOTE: There’s a picture below that is very disturbing, but for people who are concerned about animal suffering and homelessness, it’s important to face the tragic reality of the overpopulation crisis and its consequences. Animals can’t afford to have people look away.


Big Girl


Her name was Big Girl, but there was almost nothing left of her. She was so still, so slight, and so cold to the touch that field workers thought that she was already dead. But the tiny 6-month-old pit bull was still alive. Barely.

Big Girl never knew the love and care that we wish every dog experienced; by the time we arrived, she had endured prolonged, incomprehensible agony. When we found her collapsed on the ground, she weighed less than the chain she was tied to. She had clearly been starved—she was a pile of bones and had raw, mostly hairless skin with absolutely no body fat. A veterinarian later told us that Big Girl’s stomach contained nothing but dirt, leaves, a piece of corn cob with two kernels on it, and a piece of dry, caked fecal matter. Big Girl had been left to suffer for so long that she had begun to decompose. Four different generations of maggots were eating away at her body. When we gently peeled her off the ground, she moaned. She could not see us or hear us, but we hope she knew that we were there to help her.

We sent Big Girl off to heaven with kind words and a gentle lethal injection. We wished we could have ended her misery much, much sooner. Those who condemn open-admission animal shelters and organizations like PETA for having to euthanize sick, injured, dying, and unwanted animals must look closely at the source of the overpopulation crisis—people who breed animals, those who neglect and abuse them, and consumers who choose to buy animals from breeders and pet shops instead of adopting from their local animal shelter.

No one hates the ugly reality of euthanasia more than the shelter workers who hold the syringe. Sometimes, especially when animals have known no kindness and are suffering, the best that we can offer an animal like Big Girl, Asia, and others is a painless and dignified release from a world that showed them no love or compassion.

P.S. The man responsible for Big Girl’s horrific condition (as well as that of another dog, who suffered from a vaginal prolapse) was charged and convicted for the condition of both dogs, and he was prohibited from owning animals.

Written by Jeff Mackey

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  • Alison Bentlin says:

    I am in tears and heartbroken. I cannot begin to imagine what this beautiful girl went through. I just dont understand people who do things like this to innocent defenceless animals. All they want is love and they give it back tenfold. Please tell me the subhuman piece of shit has been caught and is in jail. This is a major criminal offence.

  • Lara Sikora says:

    This has broke my heart made me cry could feel all the suffering of this beautiful dog I’m so glad he knew sombody loved him before he died, how many are out there they we don’t know about these people need punished put in prision &alwYs on a registered animal abuser list &to be checked on this can’t &should never happen again

  • britany says:

    I am in tears. When I read of this…. dirt, two kernels and leaves :(((( omg who would do such a thing. I couldn’t imaghine. As I love My Dogs SOOOOOOOOOOO SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO MUCH!! R.I.P Big Girl.

  • Charlie says:

    tears streaming down my face, may she rest now R.I.P big girl.

  • jackie says:

    the judge must have been sleeping when they showed the picture of BIG GIRL or he would have put him away for life.If that would of been a human he would of got life and we all know that we think of our pets as humans.That is disqusting to know that theres that kind of people on this earth ,that can do somthing like that to an animal.I think the judge should get the book thrown at him.

  • Carol says:

    Poor girl, it is an horrible story, her poor body made me cry for the many horrible things human can do. RIP

  • keow says:

    I cried when when I read this story about big girl. the people who left her like this is heartless

  • Guy says:

    I found the story of Big Girl while researching an essay on animal rights and abuse. Before reading the full story I clinged to the hope that Big Girl how somehow survived. It is taking awhile to come to the conclusion that Big girl is in a better place and free from pain enjoying the life she should have experienced here on earth. I rescued a pit bull mix from a life of I don’t know what…Now everytime I look into his big brown eyes and give him a rub…I’ll be giving one to Big Girl, too.

  • Jessie says:

    Rest in peace Big Girl. At least now she is finally free from pain.

  • Pam says:

    If people have an issue with euthanizing healthy, yet homeless animals, then go adopt. Pressure your friends and neighbours into sterilizing their companion animals. Boycott breeders. Until the pet overpopulation issue is resolved, healthy animals will need to be euthanized. Reducing the pet population will also reduce the number of animals being abused. Abusers can’t abuse an animal that has never been born, can they? To those who like to complain, since you obviously have the answer, solve the problem.


    Rest in peace little one,,,

  • Tammy says:

    Oh this is so terrible I cannot stop crying for all animals and especially those who never had love!!! OMG!!! How can this be??? We need legislation for animals that equals those for humans, NOW!!! How can this happen?? Who are thses ‘people’?? My soul and heart are broken…

  • Tammy says:

    This is so tragic and dispicable my very soul cries in outrage!! I cry for all animals that have experienced anything less than being loved dearly!! I cannot write more because I am so upset!!! But this ‘man’ should be starved and worse!!!

  • Kristin says:

    Okay, so you’ve clearly covered the issue of euthanizing as to give mercy and peace to animals that are suffering and beyond help.

    But what about animals euthanized because they’re perfectly healthy but just can’t find a good home?

    I don’t think that part is right.  I think they should just be kept at the shelter or else let go in the wild–at least then they have a chance at making it in the world somewhere on their own, if they’re careful.

    And if they don’t make it then natural selection will control the population.

    We need to do away with the NEEDLESS killing and PETA shouldn’t be supporting it.

    And I’m a vegan/animal rights activist/supporter of PETA.  So please don’t disregard me.

  • CT says:

    Please, tell me where this occurred, and who was the man responsible. I know that the court case would be of public record… thank you.

  • julie-anne creswell says:

    i have cried for days after finding big girl what she must have sufferedbut putting her to sleep was the best option she had suffered enoughi am definately more for animals than people they can rot in hell where i hope big girls owner goes he should suffer the same treatment as big girl let to starve and rot i urge every one to support peta and their local shelters we are the voice of the animals and they must be heard!!!!!!!!

  • lori andrews says:

    I am unable to write much at this time because I can’t STOP crying after seeing this picture!!! The person responsible for this MUST be punished and suffer just as this POOR animal did!!! Horrifying!!!!!

  • Laura says:

    I am really disgusted by the comments on herewhere people are angry about PETA shelters euthanizing wonderful animalssimply because there are no homes for them. BE MAD AT THE BREEDERS PET SHOPS etc. NOT PETA or the shelters that MUST euthanize because there aren’t enough homes out there. I am sure post complaining only have 1 or 2 dogs if that.

  • bknd2anmls says:

    It’s a sin the way we treat our animals. WE MUST have spayneuter in all communities. We must also use humane euthanasia to set suffering animals free. God bless all the animals and those who love them.

  • Michael says:

    I have run into far too many of the crowd lately. I volunteered for several years at a nokill shelter and while we had great adoption numbers I still had to personally turn away animals brought to us every day because of spacemoney issues. The fates of most of these are unknown though we were forced to take many more than we could handle because people would simply release their animals as strays in our parking lot and alleys.

  • Chris W. says:

    I once had a neighbor who neglected her cat. The sweet cat got sores on her mouth so I took her in until I could find a home for her. I tried shelters in my state and a neighboring state. They all said the same two things. Either they had no room or they would euthanize because she was sick. When I questioned why euthanize what if it was something minor they still stood by their euthanizing. Luckily the cat had an angel who paid for vet expenses and I was able to keep her. If I hadn’t been persistent the illness that she would have been euthanized over…..was malnutrition. Less than 10 minutes in the vet’s office to figure that out and all shelters including nokill shelters would have killed her. I agree with euthanizing animals who are truly suffering but that should be the only time. I never wanted a cat for a pet but I have now taken in my second cat that was abandoned. I cannot see sending an animal to be killed just because someone didn’t want it there will be someone else who does.

  • Jaime says:

    Oh my lord. This is absolutely terrible. I had to scoop up my doggies and snuggle them as soon as i finished reading this. Im happy this man was punished but in my opinion he should be left to starve and decompose himself.

  • Alison R. says:

    This is so awful the picture of BIg Girl can anyone provide me with information of who this indvidual is and what state did this take place and what happened to the other dog heshe had and did he serve any time in jail at all and what can we do to make tougher laws for animal abusers?? I really can’t stop crying or looking at BIg Girl’s picture. Will someone please answer my questions thank you.

  • Hyou says:

    you should have fed the owner to the dog! that would have made Big Girl gain some weight! it would have also been karma!

  • Naomi says:

    Oh My God! That poor dog was left out all by herself starved and all! That really made me sick looking at that picture. I dont exactly know what Euthanasia means but I believe that it is the injection neardead animals are given? I cant believe the man who let her get like this is even allowed to live! I believe that animals are next to us not below us on the ‘food chain’. Yes we have technology but animals have adaptations that make them very much more dangerous than us! Eg spiders venom eg Crocodiles Long jaws eg Sharks replacable teeth. I bet the man who did this to that poor puppy doesnt give a stuff about animals! THEY HAVE FEELINGS TOO im 14

  • RAVISHYAM says:

    I’m very sad about the little dogy.Big girl who has come to this world has faced a very sad and painful ending becoz of the ignorance of the person who has tied the dog.i strongly feel such persons are big disgrace on this earth and a menace to this society.Let us all join together and flush away such kind of people from the society.Love u big girl hope ur sole rest in peace

  • diane says:

    i had to get my dog put down a few weeks ago and it broke my heart but she was in so much pain it would have been crule to make her live like that. it was the last gift i could give her to end her pain.

  • Dawn says:

    When I saw the picture of Big Girl I believed she had been burned in a fire. To witness the result of such cruelty is painful. My heart bleeds for pets and children alike who suffer at the merciless hands of their offenders. I am a Christian and shouldn’t say this but the pain I feel for what poor Big Girl and others like her have endured cannot be described. I would no difficulty exacting justice on her owner. This makes me want to work harder to continue supporting groups like Peta and my local animal shelter. I’m sad she wasn’t found earlier but glad she’s how resting in peace pain free with a full belly. God bless her! We need stricter laws and deterents for irresponsible breeders pet stores pet owners farmers and animal abusers.

  • ÃœLGEN GÃœL says:

    The man responsible for Big Girl’s horrific condition SHOULD HAVE THE SAME END. I CAN’T STAND SUCH EVENTS.

  • Jordan says:

    I myself own a pit bull cross he is a much loved family member however if he were in pain and there was no way to treat him i would allow him to be euthanazed. It is inhumane and cruel to let animals suffer however if we can help animals to end their suffering why are humans an exception? If someone you loved and cared for was in pain with no way to help them why let them live through the agony animals and people should have the same rights within species boundries i think that anyone who campaigns against the euthanazier of animals is a cruel heartless person whether they believe that they are doing the right thing or not i would like to see what they would choose life in pain that can not be treated until death or a painless peaceful way to end the suffering? In the end we all have our own opinions I am just sharing mine.

  • Elphaba says:

    On May 14 Alison wrote “This is absolutely evil and heartbreaking. I have cried and cried for big girl. I am however very surprised and upset with PETA for euthanizing her. We have absolutely no right to take any life and her life was no exception. Why was she not put on intravenous pain meds antibiotics fluids and nutrients etc? If she was sedated while this was happening she could have recovered and been given a chance at lifewhich was her right. If she passed away in the meantime then all that could have been done was done and she would have at least been given a chance and pain relief. If this was a human there would be no question of trying to save them and all measures wouls have been taken. Any mention of euthanasia would be classed as murder. There is no difference here. It is murder and a copout an easy solution to a problem you didn’t want to deal with. Just because there are so many other unwanted animals doesn’t mean big girl was of less importance. I am a huge supporter of PETA and never thought you would do such a thing. I thought you were the only organisation that went to any extreme to save every animal but I guess I was wrong. I am deeply disgusted by this. I also want to know whether the evil piece of crap that did this to her was put behind bars as this is what would happened if it had been a human. Also how on earth can you enforce a prohibition to own animals? This person deserves life in prison better still they should suffer the same cruelty big girl did except with out the lethal injection. To all of you who agree that this is the ‘kind’ and ‘the only option’ WAKE UP TO YOURSELVES!! If it was your mother or father friend sister brother or especially if this was your child there is no way you would give up on them and not give them a chance by murdering them. I am all for the right to die if one chooses to but since I’m positive dogs can’t speak and make a concious decision ‘yes please I would like to die now’ IT’S MURDER!! This completely contradicts what I thought was the philosophy of PETA that every creature is equal? I must have been mistaken.” Alison your position is insane. Leaving a dog or a human in my opinion in this condition is nothing less than cruelty and I sincerely hope no animal ever has to rely on you to make a decision to end her or his suffering. Wow. I always knew slowkill supporters can be pretty out there but this takes the cake.

  • llyn humes says:

    I have looked at the picture of Big Girl and am crying as I write this. I just can’t understand how socalled civilised people can be so cruel. I do however believe that some people are so ignorant that they believe animals have no feelings. I watched the download of fur farm where Chinese men are skinning dogs and other animals alive and talking and laughing as they do this. These are truly evil times and I like one of your other commentators can not believe in God.

  • Theoni says:

    What can I say? I have just seen the picture of Big Girl. I support you and your work with all my heart and from the depths of it.

  • carolyn Boutilier says:

    Rest in heart sweetheart may your tail wag repeatedly and may you eat and drink till you are full your in Heaven now and nothing or nobody can hurt you anymore.

  • Yvonne says:

    I believe they do what they can for animals that they can save. Others it is impossible as it is with some humans who are sick but as humans we dont get the choice to end our suffering because we cannot legally end our lives. A few years ago I had to make the very difficult choice of ending the life of my sweet very sick cat after the vet told me there was little they could do. He never recommended euthanasia and let me make that decision. It is never easy to take the life of a loved pet or an animal. I feel bad when my cats kill mice in my house but that is nature. Animal abuse will always be around but many organizations such as Peta and many wonderful nokill shelters try to save as many lives as they can but time money and room are limited and it is unfortunate that not all can be saved. Saying that I believe we as a society through educational programs such on Animal Planet and through campaigns such as the ones Peta emails along with nokills shelters ASPCA and the humane society have cut down abuse. We must all do our share by reporting and contributing as much as we can to the originations of our choice to save animals from abuse and taking care of the ones there is no hope. No living thing should suffer. Ending the suffering is the humane thing to do.

  • Joanna says:

    kelly How do fast food companies lobbist connect to ‘breeders’. Exactly what are you saying? ‘Breeders’ does not mean anything. Are you saying all people who breed an animal are conspiring against PETA? When did nokill shelters and breeders get together? Maybe you are over reaching just a little to make your point which is?

  • Jud in LA says:

    Thank you Paul for a great idea. It’s just too bad our elected officials can’t listen to people with good ideas. It’s so much easier to put stupid shortsighted illconceived laws in place. Like let’s spay and neuter every stray cat. I guess we want the rodent population out of control again. Your micro chip idea would work. We could have an “elite cat task force” which is tagged and allowed to go free for rodent control. I love it! They could easily identify the real strays from our rodent control task force. Also the people found guilty of animal abuse can also get “tagged” with a special electrical shock device that goes off when they approach an animal who is also tagged. They should be required to wear it somewhere in the groan region Multiple offences shocks leave them impotent. This is great!!

  • Paul says:

    I was thinking about this and how we can make the laws better. How about something like this All animals need to be microchipped at source the breeder. The breeder is then responsible for that animal until someone adopts it. Then the breeder is responsible for registering the details of the new owner. If the animal is found to be stray then the last owner either breeder or new owner is responsible for financially supporting the animal in a NoKill shelter. There that way the shelter is not out of pocket and hopefully will make breeders think more about the over population. Or better still if the animal was adopted and is found stray then the owner and breeder share 5050 of the bills to put the animal in a nokill shelter. That would certainly make the breeders think when they are hit with loads of bills. Would hopefully make them think about who is adopting their animals and maybe even put them out of business for good.