Animal Euthanasia

Animal euthanasia is a worldwide social issue. When an animal is suffering and no longer has a chance to recover, putting it down may be the most humane thing to do. When this act of kindness turns into murder, however, it becomes a very controversial topic. There are many places where the majority of animals in shelters are euthanized, even perfectly healthy ones. The truth is many animal shelters are overcrowded and low on money. When there isn’t any space for all of the new animals being brought in off of the streets every day sometimes shelters simply do not have any other options. Turning away animals in need of food or shelter so that they can go die on the streets is in some ways even more inhumane than euthanizing them. Clearly this is a lose-lose situation and something needs to be done about it.

Due to the rough economic times animal shelters are getting even less money. More people are also being forced to surrender their pets to shelters because they cannot afford to care for them. These factors have forced a rise in the euthanasia of adoptable animals that shelters simply do not have the money to care for anymore. In the last few years euthanasia rates have risen as high as 98% in some shelters. It is also estimated that at least 3.7 million cats and dogs are euthanized every year in the United States alone.

There are two types of animal shelters, private and municipal. Municipal shelters are paid for by taxes and run by cities, counties, countries, and other places like them. Their job is to pick up stray animals and reunite them with their owners. In many cases municipal shelters are required to take in any and all unwanted animals. This causes the shelters to generally be very overcrowded, meaning that more animals have to be euthanized unnecessarily. In addition, many workers at municipal shelters do not have much, if any training or experience with animals. There are also private shelters. Although the goal of these shelters is also to find homes for lost or unwanted animals, they are funded by private donations. Workers at private shelters generally are a lot more experienced working with animals than workers at municipal shelters.

There are many different forms of euthanasia, and some are more humane than others. Carbon monoxide gas chambers, firearms, inhalants, drowning, and electrocution are extremely painful, cruel ways to put down animals. When an animal is poisoned using carbon monoxide they suffer greatly while slowly suffocating. They generally go into convulsions while screaming and struggling for breathable air. Carbon monoxide poisoning has been outlawed in California, Tennessee, Maryland, and Rhode Island because it is such an inhumane way of killing animals. In addition, there are many organizations campaigning to make this method of euthanasia illegal everywhere. Methods that cause a fast loss of consciousness and minimal pain or stress such as an intravenous injection of sodium pentobarbital are obviously the nicest techniques.

There are many organizations working to reduce, and hopefully stop completely the euthanasia of healthy adoptable animals. The ultimate goal is to reduce the number of healthy adoptable animals being euthanized to zero and create a balance where there is the same number of adoptable animals as people looking to adopt. Obviously we still have a long way to go before this can be accomplished, but there are many different ways people are striving towards it. Some animal shelters have implemented a no-kill policy, meaning that they will find a home for any and all healthy adoptable animals; none will be put down unnecessarily. This is a huge achievement, and hopefully many more shelters will begin taking on this policy. People are also trying to discourage the excessive breeding of animals and instead promote adoptions from these overcrowded shelters full of healthy adoptable animals. Puppy mills are a huge problem contributing to the extreme excess of animals. In these mills dogs are locked up in tiny cages all day with no access to food, water, or human interaction. They are filthy and undernourished. The owners of these mills breed solely for profit and have no interest in the well-being of the animals. Many animals in pet stores are acquired from puppy mills so make sure to do some research before buying the first cute animal you see in a store window. In addition, adopting from a shelter is always better than buying an animal from a breeder or store. The third major way to cut down on the unnecessary euthanasia is to promote animal spay and neutering. This will help regulate the number of unwanted animals being thrown into shelters. Implementing a mandatory spay/neutering law would greatly reduce the number of excess animals. Providing spay/neutering services for a smaller cost would also help because it would make the procedure available and more appealing to many pet owners.

Thanks to the many individuals and organizations working towards saving these animals lives unnecessary euthanasia in shelters has been occurring much less over the past twenty years and hopefully this success will continue in the future.