The PETA blog recently featured a photo and story of terrible animal neglect, a young pit bull who had been so severely neglected that “she had begun to decompose” and “Four different generations of maggots were eating away at her body.” It’s a sad story and euthanasia was probably in poor “Big Girl’s” best interests.They made that case, though moreso through images than words.
The article continued:
“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.”
Here is the trouble with what Jeff Mackey, from PETA, wrote:
- The phrase, “we sent her off to heaven” could easily be used by ANY animal killer in ANY context. It is not a justification or explanation for euthanasia; it’s just something that makes some humans feel better about killing animals.
- The euphemism that euthanasia is “a dignified release” is yet another phrase that does NOTHING for animals; it just makes humans feel better about killing animals. Animals don’t care more about dignity than death. No animal would choose a dignified death over a pain-free life. If the animal is in pain, talk about pain. Euthanasia’s purpose is to provide a pain-free release from a pain-filled world, not a dignified release from an undignified life.
- The “overpopulation crisis” doesn’t exist. And even if it did, it wouldn’t justify killing animals. It would justify building more shelters, encouraging more people to adopt rather than buy, changing the laws, or doing other things to stop so-called overpopulation. To make this point more salient, say there was an overpopulation crisis among humans. Would that justify killing homeless humans? No, it would not.
But the real trouble isn’t the few animals that PETA kills. The real trouble isn’t that PETA kills animals like Big Girl. The real trouble is that the term “euthanasia” is being co-opted by animal exploiters. If animal advocacy organizations like PETA don’t defend the definition of euthanasia as in the animals’ interests,
“the act or practice of ending the life of an individual suffering from a terminal illness or an incurable condition, as by lethal injection or the suspension of extraordinary medical treatment,” (source: The American Heritage Dictionary via Alley Cat Allies)
they become part of the problem. Refusal to define euthanasia as in the animal’s interests helps justify things like the pork industry’s definition of euthanasia:
“Euthanasia is the humane process whereby the pig is rendered insensible, with minimal pain and distress, until death. For the euthanasia process or method to be considered humane, it must be quick, effective and reliable.” (source)
Notices how the pork industry’s definition does not say anything about the animals’ interests. In fact, the industry says “It is inevitable that on every swine farm, situations that require pigs to be euthanized will arise. These situations include, but are not limited to, illness and injuries.” I’ve added emphasis to point out the fact that the pork industry calls virtually any pig killing that’s not for profit “euthanasia.” (Killing for profit is called “slaughter.”) In fact, here is just one of the many acceptable methods of so-called pig euthanasia, “pithing,” a back-up method:
“A wire or polypropylene rod is inserted through the hole in the head made by gunshot or penetrating captive bolt. The rod is pushed into the brain and slid back and forth and rotated to cause maximum damage to the brain and upper spinal cord. Initially, the pig may show muscle contraction and twitching, but muscles will relax and movement will be inhibited shortly thereafter.” (source: American Association of Swine Veterinarians)
Blunt trauma to the head is an acceptable way to kill runt piglets. They call smashing in piglets’ brains “euthanasia.” This isn’t done just for piglets who are ill or injured, this is done to piglets who are deemed unprofitable.
And let’s not forget, these methods were ruled “euthanasia” by a court of law:
The animals don’t need our rationalizations, our feel-good rhetoric, or our paltry excuses. They need our compassion. And they need it now. Nothing else will suffice. Any justification for euthanasia that doesn’t centralize animals’ interests, isn’t in the animals’ interests.