Words & Actions
I was moved by Donna Kane’s letter in your May issue regarding the heartbreak of having to euthanize a beloved pet. “Euthanasia” is defined as the act of causing death painlessly so as to end suffering, and “suffering’ is further defined as distress and misery. Because I am at a loss as to another euphemism, I suggest we simply use euthanasia and accept and recognize it for the kind act it is, and respect that it is a decision made responsibly. Several times in my life, I have had to make the heart-wrenching decision to euthanize my own pets; I also volunteer at the Rice County Humane Society in Faribault, Minn., an open-door shelter where our staff veterinarian is routinely faced with this decision. Never is it made lightly and easily, but a humane death is preferable to the alternative of hunger, pain, cold and other scenarios that so many homeless animals face.
I also feel we need a new way to describe “no-kill” shelters and organizations. As an open-door facility, we never turn away an animal in need, but sometimes they just cannot survive the damage done by neglect, abuse and abandonment. We don’t “kill” the animals who come to us for help; rather, we make humane and informed decisions regarding the prospects for their quality of life, after having assessed both their physical status and their behavior. I challenge “no-kill” organizations to find another way to describe their philosophy of animal rescue so as not to denigrate open-door groups who do euthanize after careful evaluation. I also encourage all groups to work together as animal advocates to educate the public on animal welfare and pet overpopulation. As all of us who work to save animals know, spay and neuter is the best answer to the problems of pet overpopulation and neglect. I respectfully salute all animal rescuers everywhere.
As the proud human companion of a senior dog, I really enjoyed your March issue! Our Springer Spaniel, Stella, will be 16 in June and is still going strong. We adopted her 15 years ago from the Humane Society in Rochester, Mich., and she has been with us through the growing-up years of two kids, 10 and 12 years old; a move; the loss of one dog, her companion for 11 years; and a new puppy, Hodges, foisted on her when she was 12. She is consistently upbeat, and when not sleeping, bounds around like a dog half her age. As I read Patricia McConnell’s article, “The Senior Citizen Pass,” I knew that by treating her as we would want to be treated in our senior years—with love and respect and including her in our family’s activities regardless of her age—we had probably helped her reach this milestone. Puppies are cute and make us laugh, but a senior dog has earned a special place in our hearts, one that’s full of love and memories. Thanks for giving them their own issue!