A Moral Dilemma

This article was shared on Facebook by my favorite dog-blog Life With Dogs. The talk show host referred to is apparently having his 10 year-old dog euthanized because he has a new baby and the dog gets grumpy and snappy and is therefore not suitable to have around the baby. The “intellectual” argument is that it is better to adopt a shelter dog for just a few months and have it euthanized, than to have it remain in a shelter and be euthanized anyway.

I suppose, on one hand, I can see his argument.  Isn’t it better to experience love, even for just a short time, and be surrounded by that love at death than to die in terror and misery? The biggest problem I see is that this philosophy promotes the idea of dogs (and shelter pets in general) as disposable. Rather than find a good, loving, forever home when your 8 year-old decides that having a dog is no longer fun or cool, have it euthanized.

Allow me to acknowledge up front that there are other cultures that are not as attached to dogs as pets as Americans and who may therefore find the entire discussion ridiculous. Perhaps, also, I would feel differently if I weren’t a single, childless woman. With this bias in mind, I’d like to propose another view of his theory to defend my outrage at the concept of euthanasia as a convenience.

What are shelter pets? They are dogs, cats, and other animals who have been abandoned, neglected, abused or orphaned by the death of owners. Millions of these pets are housed in shelters and rescue groups across the globe.  Because of irresponsible breeding (and by this, I mean puppy mills and backyard breeders – this is in no way meant to be an attack on legitimate breeders who ensure their animals are given good homes with people who understand the breed) there are more animals than shelters can house.  There are not enough people with the resources and/or the desire to provide loving environments for these animals and many shelters must euthanize animals because of over-crowding.

The foster care system is also over-crowded with children who have been abandoned, neglected, abused and orphaned. There are not enough people with the resources and/or desire to foster or adopt all of these children.  The news is filled with stories of children passed from one foster home to another and just like with dogs, the older the children get, the harder it becomes to place them.  Everyone wants an infant. Everyone wants a puppy. Should we euthanize children to relieve the over-crowding of the child welfare system? If we take the talk show host’s idea to heart, each of us should adopt a child. Adopt any child of any age, feed them, love them, care for them, and when we are tired of them, or when our lifestyle changes and they no longer “fit”, kill them. After all, isn’t it better for that child to have known love for a month or two, than to never know love?

I’m not advocating the murder of children. Let’s make that clear.  I’m not even suggesting it is a viable option. Why not stop the cycle of death for convenience altogether? Why not put our resources into providing better environments for animals in shelters, more aggressive marketing to find them homes, fund spay/neuter programs, and fund assistance programs for families experiencing a sudden loss of income and seniors to enable them to keep their animals instead of surrendering them?

~ by Rachel on March 16, 2010.

2 Responses to “A Moral Dilemma”

  1. Well written and great conclusion.

  2. I found your blog through the blog hop, and love this post. I think you did a great job of summarizing the issues and getting to the heart of the matter. Good job 🙂

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