Animal euthanasia is the easy way out

On Aug. 19, WSU’s Veterinary Teaching Hospital (VTH) confirmed that an 18-year-old mare was infected with Equine Herpes Virus (EHV-1) – a highly contagious but treatable virus.

Despite this, the infected mare was immediately euthanized. VTH likely made the more logical decision in this case, but would we do this to our own kind?

When humans contract contagious diseases we place them in quarantine. We ensure they are comfortable and in as little pain as possible. We do everything we can to save them and we hope for a miracle.

Where was the EHV-1 infected mare’s chance for a miracle?

When injuries or illnesses arise, many individuals choose to end the life of their pet. It seems as though euthanasia has become a social norm – according to a survey by DVM 360, a news magazine of veterinary medicine a most veterinarians report they are asked to euthanize healthy animals at least a few times a year.

However, when we claim that an animal was humanely euthanized, we are essentially saying that we took the easy way out at the animal’s expense.

The fact that veterinarians are asked to kill innocent animals for the sake of convenience proves that somewhere along the way society began to devalue the lives of animals.

The presumption that human lives are more valuable than those of animals is entirely wrong – despite the fact that animals do not possess the ability to speak, they are in no way less important than us.

Christopher Ibarra, a pre-vet freshman at WSU, said that horses, in addition to other animals, each have their own distinct personality – just like people do.

“Some horses might be friendly and docile – others might have an attitude or some might even get frustrated really easily,” Ibarra said. “You may meet a horse that’s stubborn, which could be a part of its personality or it could be because of its past. I guess in that way, they are a lot like people because the way we behave changes based on the things we’ve been through, too.”

Clearly, an animal’s life is not any less significant than a human’s. Then why are they treated so much differently from a medical standpoint?

When it comes to people, even when we know with absolute certainty that an individual will soon die, we still never end their life – unless the patient is being treated in one of the only five states that physician-assisted suicide is legal.

Can you imagine the societal uproar if physicians euthanized human patients who had contracted contagious diseases?

The difference lies simply in the horrible fact that society places a much higher value on the life of a single human than on the lives of a thousand innocent animals.

The tendency to view animal lives as insignificant and easily replaceable has become a serious problem – as seen with the mare at the VTH and the recent recommendation from the Bureau of Land Management’s National Wild Horse and Burro Advisory Board that the United States should kill 45,000 captive wild horses.

It is essential for everyone to begin recognizing the worth of an animal’s life and to realize that we and animals have a lot more in common than we think.

Emily Hogan is a freshman genetics and cell biology major from Harrington, Delaware. She can be contacted at 335-2290 or by [email protected] The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of the staff of The Daily Evergreen or those of The Office of Student Media.