The guardian of a seriously ill Pekingese called PETA. Her dog was clearly in terrible distress—he wasn’t eating or drinking, was panting heavily, and had great difficulty breathing. The diagnostics and treatment proposed by the veterinarian would have been costly and, more importantly, extensive. What should she do? Scrounge up the money for the procedures and put her beloved dog through them? She couldn’t imagine making the decision to “let him go.”
In these situations, where veterinary intervention is likely to lengthen the animal’s misery, a painless and dignified release from suffering is the best and kindest course of action, despite our own anguish at the coming loss. Although this dog’s guardian was distraught, she made the brave decision to spare him further torment.
Although a reluctance to say “Goodbye” to a cherished animal companion is normal and genuine, it is profoundly unfair—and often unlawful—to let him or her endure a protracted, miserable death because we can’t bear to let go. That grieving time will come, now or later, but adding to the sum total of suffering does not help. Despite what proponents of so-called “no-kill” shelters or those who profit from the abuse of animals say, there is such a thing as a fate worse than a painless, peaceful death, which is why euthanasia can be the reasonable and compassionate option.