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Drowning Is Cruelty

In the fall of 2002, a woman in New York called PETA to report that the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) routinely advised citizens to drown captured wild and domestic animals such as cats by submerging them in trash cans full of water.

This advice was contrary to the applicable New York anti-cruelty statute, and the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) unconditionally condemns drowning as a method of killing. In its Report of the AVMA Panel on Euthanasia, the panel concludes, “Drowning is not a means of euthanasia and is inhumane.”

Furthermore, in a paper published in the Wildlife Society Bulletin titled “Drowning Is Not Euthanasia,” Ludders et al. (1999) concluded that while drowning is a convenient way for people to kill animals, it is not euthanasia—i.e., it is a painful, frightening death.

By advising citizens to unjustifiably abuse and kill animals by drowning, the DEC was clearly encouraging conduct that was illegal under state law.

Since then, the DEC has adopted strict guidelines that prohibit employees from encouraging people to drown animals. Unfortunately, PETA continues to receive complaints from concerned individuals about state and local agencies as well as nuisance wildlife control operators, trappers, and homeowners who drown captured animals.

If you witness someone drowning an animal, please contact your local authorities immediately. Drowning animals—wild or domestic—is a crime.

If you discover that your state wildlife agency, local animal control bureau, or business condones or engages in drowning as a method of killing animals, please contact us right away.