Euthanasia: doing our best for animals

04 Jan 2020

Fox, M. W.

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The recent discussion around euthanasia and the concern for veterinary wellbeing and empathic distress1, 2 shows a shift in focus, whereby it is not only the welfare of animals being considered but also the emotional impact on those responsible for their care.

There are many aspects around the decision to euthanase an animal.

Owners might be unable to afford the appropriate care or might find it difficult emotionally or practically to care for their animal. However, having to kill an otherwise healthy animal, with a good prognosis, where appropriate treatment is available, can take its toll on all those involved.

Peter Clark’s letter, ‘Should we be euthanasing cancer patients?’ (VR, 26 October 2019, vol 185, p 514), raises a related ethical dilemma of keeping companion animals that have cancer, who might endure prolonged suffering if kept alive. Instances where an owner’s sentimental attachment might be...