Monday, January 30, 2012

Convenience Euthanasia Kills

In Saturday's New York Post, I read the extremely sad story of a TV soap actor, Nick Santino, who recently committed suicide while overwhelmed with grief.  According to the press, the management in his residential complex and fellow tenants had been unleashing discriminatory views and enacting bans that applied only to his dog, a pit bull mix.  After the criticism apparently became too much to bear, Santino thought the only feasible option was to euthanize his best friend of several years.  However, he wholeheartedly regretted the decision afterwards.  You can read the full story here.   
Pit bull discrimination is its own, separate blog post, but I wanted to mention something here about veterinarians performing "convenience euthanasias."
There are plenty of veterinarians who will kill (not "euthanize", as this denotes relief from suffering) an animal for any reason a client requests it.  Sometimes it is done with little information or without trying other alternatives.  Other times, veterinarians may perform convenience euthanasias because they're inundated with these requests and become exhausted from struggling with someone else's lifestyle and views.

This is a saddening consequence in a society where animals are often regarded as disposable property. Animals should not be disposable, and it often ends up being excruciatingly painful for people when they let themselves be taken by anyone's insistence that they are.  Animals are family members, after all, and if a neighbors didn't like the way a child looked, would a parent take him to the pediatrician and ask her to kill him?  It is unfortunate that highly educated professionals already loaded with responsibility are also forced to have society's misguided view of animals constantly dumped in their laps.  Ultimately, veterinarians are often the ones who are asked to do the dirty work.

But this is also why veterinarians, of all people, should vocally support a higher status for animals in society.  We shoot ourselves in the foot when we don't.  As in the case of Mr. Santino, many people are actually looking for a little courage to stand up for their best friend's life, not someone to condone their emotion-wrecked decision-making and get the needle in the vein as quickly as possible. 
Often animals are the best support people have, and losing them can be the final straw.  I think we'd do well to remember this.  Rest in peace, Nick and Rocco.