Let’s discuss euthanasia. A grim, dreaded word taken from the Greeks meaning “A good death.” Is that an oxymoron? Yet it is a peaceful way of leaving as opposed to a fearful, inhumane exit from life. Most of us experience the sad, stomach-churning decision we have to make for our animals much too often. Yet, our pets depend upon our wisdom and emotional strength to help alleviate their suffering when they are too old and or too infirmed to enjoy the quality of life.

I’ve had dogs in my youth who have lived to the ripe old age of twenty, not in the best of health, mind you, but hanging on. Looking back, I realize that I kept them alive simply because I rationalized my inability to face the decision to let them go, but thinking that they would let me know when they were “ready.” Silly me, no, selfish me. Was I so emotionally attached to my dogs, so dependant upon their unconditional love, the gratifying nurturing experience I received as I cared for them year after year? It’s an easy state to slip into because sometimes it’s majorly difficult to receive that feeling from humans. So it would seem that I kept them struggling to live because I needed them.

Having said that, so much has changed. In this era of modern medicine and treatments for animals, pets can prolong the quality of their lives far beyond those of their ancestors. We are all, of course, very grateful to the veterinary colleges and research organizations for giving us and our beloved pets more time to enjoy our companionship.

Still, there will come that moment when we must decide to give that last loving gift to our friend with whom we have had a blessed bond of mutual love. It is the gift of eternal peace, no more pain, no more confusion. We embrace our precious pet one last time and whisper, “I will always hold you in my heart, and I will never forget you.” It’s never easy; it isn’t meant to be. It takes much love and courage, but it enables us to complete our responsibility to the animals who we choose to be in our lives.

So as long as we are biting the bullet today concerning this topic of conversation, let’s discuss another aspect of Euthanasia ending the lives of dogs who are considered very dangerous to humans and other animals. Touchy subject? You betcha.

I openly, vehemently oppose breed-specific discrimination. Every dog should be judged by its character! Every breed of dog was originally bred for a specific purpose. Centuries ago, humans designed all the different breeds basically for herding, hunting, protection, and companionship. They aided us in obtaining food sources, followed us into battle, and watched over our children in our absence. My research tells me that we have always tended to pit our strongest dogs against another on occasions of war and even in casual encounters. However, that fact is not one of which to be proud. Breeding dogs for animal blood sports has produced some breeds whose DNA contains an element of aggressiveness that can be prone to trigger at inappropriate times.

The lack of impulse control seems to be exacerbated through mishandling by uneducated owners who purchase certain breeds for the protection image the animal offers them. The dogs are hardly ever socialized or obedience trained. Not being well cared for or being abused can turn any breed of dog into an aggressive unadoptable pet. Mishandling an animal with fighting DNA is dangerous. Under these circumstances, these dogs haven’t a chance to find loving homes in some areas of this state and country. The stats are overwhelming as to how many pets of this kind get euthanized daily.

I had to decide recently to have a young, healthy dog put to sleep. I found this dog abandoned in Packing Town. He was temperament tested and observed for weeks by the trainers and handlers I chose to evaluate him before searching for the right permanent home. My heart sank when I was told that he lacked impulse control and demonstrated aggression towards his kennel mates and human trainers and handlers. They deemed him un-adoptable. This dog was handsome and energetic. I wanted so badly to find him a forever home, but the reality was that he could someday trigger and might fatally harm another pet or human. It was one of the most difficult decisions I’ve ever had to make.

The lesson for us all is clear. Please assume the responsibility when you know that your pet is aggressive to the level of probable injury to another animal s or human. Please don’t dump it. The pet who attacks other pets or people is highly confused, and the world will not treat it kindly.

Pet euthanasia is a sad fact of life. Assume the responsibility and choose your actions wisely.

From my heart to your heart,
Pat Becker