Are Mercy Killings (Euthanasia) Ethical?

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Are Mercy Killings (Euthanasia) Ethical?
Comments by Richard W. Firth - 9 Jun 2009

My dearly beloved Christian people who profoundly care about God's Creatures

I am one, formerly with the Roman Catholic Church and a follower of St. Francis of Assisi who has extended that Church's teachings on the sanctity of human life and extended it to all sentient beings.

In that context I must condemn mercy killing of any sentient being, but firmly believe any creature, be it human or otherwise has the right to be kept out of pain even if the administration of the drug to relieve the pain might eventually bring about that creature's death. That procedure has generally been accepted by the medical profession since mercy killing is the deliberate killing of a sentient being whereas just keeping the creature out of pain, the prime objective of the administration of the pain killer, is not mercy killing.

I know such an outlook will startle and upset most humane groups and individuals but I firmly believe every creature HAS THE RIGHT TO LIVE OUT ITS LIFE FOR AS LONG AS IT WANTS. And how do we know that fact when we decide the animal needs to be put down.

The case in point here just happened a few days ago. My friend who is an avid hunter, much to my disgust and I found a deer from a phone call from his friend who said it was alive and thought it had been hit by a car. The deer was non aggressive allowing him to hold it and even take its picture. The friend gave the wrong location to my friend who could not locate it. After I arrived at my friend's house his friend called to see if my friend located it and gave him more specific directions.

We then finally located the deer, a doe, who was lying in a ditch and my friend who is so scared of what a deer can do with its feet and teeth was constantly cautioning me to be extremely careful. I was not afraid only full of love and compassion for that wonderful animal. I started talking to it and slowly approached it and finally was able to pet its head with no opposition from the doe. It was breathing heavily and looked as if it would not last through the night. I prayed over it and then we left.

My friend wanted to put it out of its misery by shooting it but knowing my extreme opposition to that procedure respected my wishes and left the decision to me what to do and said I would have to live with it if the deer continued to suffer.

The next morning we went out and the deer was still alive. It was getting warm and I felt we should try to give it water. Again it offered no resistance but struggled to come to me as I approached her. We tried to give it water but it wouldn't open its mouth so we poured it next to her mouth. It was obvious it was dying a slow death and was suffering. I was perplexed what to do. I was concerned that some wild animals or dogs might attack and rip her apart. It was a Sunday and I didn't know what vets were open and where to turn for help.

I finally decided to let my friend call the Game Department but insisted they do everything possible not to put her down. I just couldn't bear to go with my friend to meet the game official as I despise Fish and Game Departments knowing they don't really care for the wildlife entrusted to their care.

My friend came back and said the Game Officer told him after examining the deer that it was suffering from rabies because she found it frothing at the mouth which I did not observe so had to put it down. She also said it was normal for an animal with rabies to approach a person so that is why the doe struggled to come to me. I really don't buy that since what I have heard a rabid animal approaching a person usually shows signs of aggression but this poor animal certainly didn't.

What I want to see done with rabid animals is that they are taken to something like an animal hospice center where they can be quarantined, sedated enough to keep them out of pain and let them die a natural and peaceful death and then let the Game officials remove the head and examine it for rabies testing.

Is there anyway we can start such a process for all animals so they don't have to be put down? I know it is hard to see any creature in extreme agony, be it human or otherwise and sometimes I don't consider it first degree murder in such circumstances but a much lesser charge as again the intent in the matter is the determining factor.

It is very difficult for me to have such an "extreme" position in the matter, but I feel mercy killing is wrong and should not be allowed.

When my beautiful cat, Fluff, died at 19 years of age, she became increasingly unable to walk and fend for herself. I discussed this situation with my vet and he agreed to work with me not to put her down but keep out of pain. Fortunately she slipped into a coma and I placed her in a good location and kept watch on her. She never woke up and died peacefully in her sleep, living out her life as LONG AS SHE WANTED TO.

Can you bring this subject up for discussion and see what we can do to stop mercy killing? Also I would like to know names of wildlife veterinarians in my area who would not resort to mercy killing but simply keep the animal out of pain until it passed.

Mercy killing must be wrong from the responses I hear from those who do it. They have a feeling of remorse more than relief so if is right to do it only peace and relief should follow the decision.

I hope you will really address this highly controversial issue.

With the love of His creation in my heart, I remain

Richard W. Firth

Go on to: Comments by Frank and Mary Hoffman - 9 Jun 2009
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