Man vs. Animal Double Standards: Euthanasia

On “And I Thought Declawing Was Bad?”, Samual left the following comment:

“I hate it when owners or the police punish the animal for aggression, every animal is aggressive in some way but if it’s to the point where it goes around biting people it’s because the animal has not been taught not to bite. The police need to stop just putting the animals down and punish the owner instead.”

Unwittingly, Samual touched on something that’s long bothered me and more than once aggravated me to the point of tears: the double standards that exist for man and beast.

I’m talking euthanasia, the death penalty, and abortion just to name a few. Many of these are hot-button human rights or moral issues. But when it comes to animals? Very few question the applications on them.

I’ll address the others later, but for this article I’ll focus on euthanasia.

Euthanizing Pets

It’s illegal to euthanize a human, even one who’s suffering terribly. If they self-euthanize, it’s considered suicide. To aid someone in their death is called murder.

For animals it’s just plain old euthanasia. When they’re so sick and there’s no hope of helping them feel better, we have a heart and put them out of their misery. It’s not fun, but it is for the best.

This is one of the rare times the man vs. animal double standard works in favor of our animal friends. But euthanasia also serves other, more darker purposes we wouldn’t dare think of applying to the human race. (Or, if we did, we’d be considered monsters.)


Too many animals crowding a shelter? No one stepping forward to claim them? Aw, that’s okay. We’ll just euthanize some to make way for others.

I hope that one day we come to understand this is every bit as unforgiveable as Hitler’s Final Extermination. Because in effect, or at least in an alternate reality, for countless strays this is in effect a Holocaust of sorts.

(And before you blast me for making such a comparison, consider this: Six million Jews died during the Holocaust. Each year, three to four million shelter animals are euthanized. That means just between last year and this year, the number of animals destroyed equals, if not exceeds, the number of people who met their end in Nazi Death Camps during WWII. Frightening.)

But wait, it gets better…

The Death Penalty

If a person murders someone and they’re caught, they get the luxury of a trial. They’re allowed to defend themselves, try to explain their actions, heck, they can even plead not guilty.

If they are found guilty, however, they don’t automatically get sentenced to death. Sometimes they just get life in jail. Even when sentenced with death it can be years before that day comes.

But if an animal kills someone? It’s almost always immediately put down for the safety of the community. No questions asked.

Heck, forget killing someone. An attack -–be it a vicious affair or just one bite– can be enough to net the death penalty for a lot of animals. Sharks, bears, mountain lions…all have been known to be put down after attacking humans.

Yet, as Samual suggested, many times they’re just doing as Nature designed them to. Aggression is part of their makeup. We forget we don’t rule the Earth. We walk it, sure, and some of us try to manage it, but we share this planet with other creatures. We have no right to kill them when we enter their territory. We forget at that point we’re fair game.

I’m not suggesting they have a “right” to attack or kill us either. I’m just saying we know better. They’re just being animals and doing as they were programmed to do.

Domestic Animals and Euthanasia

In the case of a domestic animal making an attack –whether against a human, or, like a situation relayed in the forums, against another dog– I still don’t think it’s right to immediately consider euthanizing the animal.

Observing the owners to see if it’s something they’re doing (or not doing, such as proper training)? Yes, that’s appropriate. Taking animals away from unfit owners? Yes, definitely. Maybe even having a “Scarlet Letter” kind of collar or leash to alert others the animal may be aggressive? Makes sense.

Killing them just because we can? Inhumane. One day I hope our society will find better ways to deal with it all.

Related Articles

Tough Decisions: Watch the Euthanasia or Not?

Why Pets End Up In Shelters

My Pets Are Not Disposable

Why It’s Wrong To Be Left Like a Dog for Dead

Dead Dog Walking