Ethical Theories and Convenience Euthanasia

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Introduction

Convenience Euthanasia is very common in the veterinary field. As an undergraduate student in an animal science/pre-veterinarian major and a person who volunteered for several years in different animal hospitals, I have witnessed several pet owners desiring convenience euthanasia. A main topic of discussion is the ethical and moral views behind the acts of convenience euthanasia. Convenience Euthanasia is defined as the “…euthanasia of a physically and psychologically healthy animal…” (Rathwell-Deault, Godard, Frank, & Doize, 2017) yet convenience euthanasia is not only used with healthy animals. Convenience Euthanasia can be used when an owner is not willing to pay for the pet’s treatment, wants to put pet down because owner cannot take care of the pet, or owner cannot afford the pet’s treatment.

There are so many reasons to why convenience Euthanasia is a dilemma, no one enjoys feeling rejected and not wanted, so why would we not expect pets to feel the same way. It is sad that one could desire to put their pet down just because they cannot take care of them while someone else would love to take care of them. Moreover, veterinarians should still respect owner’s desires. Now that we have a better understanding of what is the dilemma, I will be discussing Kantian Ethics, Virtue Ethics, and Consequentialism to the topic of Convenience Euthanasia to better understand if this method of practice is ethical and justified.

Kantian Ethics

Kantian Ethics is the ethical idea that our actions must be justified and no matter how much personal gain an action brings, they are wrong if these actions are unfair or unjust (Shafer-Landau, 2018, p.159). When we apply Kantian ethics to Convenience Euthanasia, Convenience Euthanasia seems to be moral, ethical, and a justified option. If we imagine a scenario where an owner comes in with their sick pet and has a hard time paying for a doctor’s exam in the first place. The veterinarian notices a pet’s stomach is bloated and requires an x-ray. The owner says they do not want to pay for an x-ray and they are just here to know why has their pet’s stomach has been bloated for the past months. From the owners’ perspective, they want to know the issue without having to pay more money. From the veterinarian’s perspective, they cannot identify what is the exact issue without an x-ray. If we assume from the kindness of the veterinarian’s heart the owner gets a discounted x-ray on their pet.

Now that the veterinarian knows the exact issue, it turns out that there might be a big problem or a tumor that would require lab work and more expensive medical practices. Since the owners were not willing to pay for the simple examination it is obvious they will not be willing to pay for the expenses of the medical procedure for the pet. Moreover, the owner does not want to pay for the expenses for their pet’s survival because they have more important expenses to pay for themselves.

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