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FoA Statement On Killing Healthy Pet Animals

June 20, 2005 | Spaying and Neutering

The idea that killing animals for institutional reasons would be called "euthanasia" at all is deeply troubling. "Euthanasia," properly used, refers to a death in one's best interest ...The routine killing of sentient individuals simply to deal with their large numbers would not constitute euthanasia even if there were a painless method of implementing it. Killing is one of those things that the animal advocacy community formed to stop. Lee Hall, "Kill Them With Kindness," Friends of Animals ActionLine (Winter 2002-03).

In Ahoskie, North Carolina, two employees of a high-profile animal protection organization currently face numerous counts of felony animal cruelty, and several misdemeanor counts of illegally disposing of dead animals. Police relate the charges to an alleged pattern of killing healthy dogs and puppies and tossing their bodies into a refuse bin.

An Associated Press report quoted veterinarian Patrick Proctor of Ahoskie Animal Hospital as further stating that authorities found a female cat and her two "very adoptable" kittens among the dead animals, and that "these were just kittens we were trying to find homes for."

In the wake of this appalling series of reports, we at Friends of Animals would like to state that the Ahoskie killings described in the recent press reports are not euthanasia, and that they are a serious affront to animal rights.

Animal advocates have no business in the killing of healthy sheltered animals. People who engage in such conduct -- regardless of killing or disposal methods -- convey the message that they and their supporters have accepted a reprehensible practice.

And the issue is not a choice between killing or doing nothing.

Alternatives to the cycle of breeding and killing do exist. For example, Friends of Animals has successfully co-ordinated a national project responsible for sterilizing over two million dogs and cats since 1957. This Spay and Neuter Project effectively intervenes in the tragic cycle of reproduction, and has spared tens of millions at the very least.

In September of 2002, Friends of Animals' president Priscilla Feral invited animal protection groups nationwide to join this project. If groups across the country were to accept Feral's proposal and put resources into such a campaign, the amount of animal suffering would decrease beyond the animal advocacy community's wildest dreams.

Through a concerted effort to stop the breeding of pets, we stem the tide of animals who wind up in shelters in the first place. Only in that radical way -- radical meaning at its root -- can the problem be resolved.

Excellent examples are also set by shelters and rehabilitators with no-kill policies. No one in the animal advocacy community should be undermining these shelters. By supporting no-kill zones, we press municipalities to face facts: There's no room in town for breeders.

Moreover, local and state officials will place a high priority on no-kill when their constituents demand it.

Animal advocates must delve deeper than the level of symptoms, and unearth the root causes of suffering. Victory will not come overnight, but with wide support and a serious understanding of our role, we can interrupt the cycle of breeding and killing domestic animals -- a cycle which, after all, we human beings put into motion.

Tell others about low-cost neutering: phone the Friends of Animals certificate hotline at 1-800-321-PETS. If your group can support local and national efforts to prevent breeding and killing of domestic animals, write to and join our shelter action list.


A year ago I became homeless at 65 years old and I had my dog, Scrap with no where to put him. We had to live in our van a couple of weeks and then got a room at a motel for about 6 months. From the motel we got a room at a hotel that allowed cats but not dogs (cats were for the rats in the hotel) so I had to put Scrap wherever I could and make sure he was warm through the winter months during this period Scrap and I were in the park and a Police officer was doing what we call profiling because I was in a upper class part of Branch Brook Park in Newark, New Jersey with my junky looking van and my van was towed and Scrap had to be put in the Humane Society who kept him for about 25 days and the manager told me if I did not come to get him they would euthanize him and that is when I started crying and begging them not to(kill)my dog and I asked why they would kill a healthy dog that someone loved and could take care of? The charge for getting Scrap away from these people was $515.00 almost all of the $888.00 I get for my retirement each month and my only income. I was so worried about him when he could not be in the room at night I would cry all night and thought I was going to have a nervous breakdown because I love Scrap so much. His life has not been the best and he had three other siblings that were killed. Now I have an apartment and after being here for almost a month with Scrap the landlord wants me to get rid of him in 10 days or so. This is my first apartment after being homeless for a year but I am thinking of giving the apartment up and living on the street if necessary until I can find a place for me and Scrap. If anyone knows of a loving family or person that could take Scrap who is loving,so smart and more like a human being than an animal, please let me know. We live in Newark, New Jersey and I am not sure exactly how old Scrap is but I think he is about 31/2 years, he is mixed breed. Euthanasia is not humane to healthy animals. Thank you.

Shelters call the killing of healthy animals 'euthanasia' so that their employees, and the public, can feel comfortable with what they're doing. I think it's important that we refuse to co-operate with this, beginning with our vocabulary. Killing healthy, or treatable animals is not euthanasia.

Please read this entire message before clicking below. There are special rules about pets for senior citizens who live in rental housing for the elderly. Ellie Maldonado has suggested, Shirley, that if you live in public or elderly housing, you might find help by clicking here: [Click here to see the New Jersey law site]( "New Jersey") But remember that advice on public Web sites is no substitute for legal advice, tailored to the facts of your situation, from a lawyer. Low-income New Jersey residents can get free legal help by phone: call the toll-free hotline at 1-888-LSNJ-LAW (1-888-576-5529), Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Hi Marcia, There are some veterinarians who believe vaccines may harm pets because they compromise their immune systems. Vets often don't vaccinate older dogs for this reason. Did this shelter not know that? What we're saying here is that institutional killing of healthy or treatable animals is not euthanasia. If the dog you could not adopt is killed, then he or she will not be "euthanized". The mentality that supports killing homeless animals deemed "unfit" for adoption is the same as that which supports killing "unfit" humans. That was/is called "euthanasia" too. In both cases, society avoids responsibility for caring for those in need. We tend to think pets should accomodate us in one way or another. Calling them "user friendly" is a good illustration of that. We assign them as objects of property to be bred and sold. But we don't appropriate enough money to care for many thousands who are inevitably abandoned. This is a situation we have created. We need to take responsibility for what we've done, and stop labeling this killing as an act of kindness. Ellie

I was appalled at our so-called animal shelter when I went to adopt a new dog after our 16 year-old sweetheart had to be put to sleep because of extreme suffering. We had chosen not to give our dog any vaccinations in her last 3 years because we feared they would do more harm than good. All her life we had kept up on her shots. She had been incredibly healthy because we took such good care of her--our vet said so. She was leash-walked and never exposed to other dogs. Because of our decision, the shelter refused to let us purchase a pet from them. Now the pet we wanted will soon be euthanized due to no one wanting to buy it. In my opinion, that is very, very sick thinking. Anyway, we did find a lovely little pup at He is healthier than the shelter dog was, and much more "user friendly". Still, I think our shelter has really gone to extremes in their dog-placement regulations. They need to look at the dog and owner's entire history, not just focus on one non-conventional decision of the owner made to, in fact, protect and prolong the dog's life. Marcia in Massachusetts

Of course Ellie. They can call it "euthanasia", but it isn't, because it isn't in the benefit of anybody. On the other hand, please read this article of an Ánima member, "Reflexions about euthanasia": [link to article](

Hi Ana, I read "Reflexions about euthanasia", and I think it is a very thoughtful article. I especially love dogs, and have lived with them for most of my life. Over time, when some dogs have grown old and terminally ill, I felt a great deal of doubt about what I should do. Could I relieve their pain with drugs? If so, they might enjoy what little time they have left. I have to agree that all of us, human and non-human, have our own time to die. At the same time, I began to feel selfish for allowing my dog to struggle, when I could see that even breathing was difficult. It's not an easy decision, either way. As the author/member of Anima writes, euthanasia means "good or easy death". In ancient Greece, euthanasia did not mean killing. The word was pulled from antiquity, first on behalf of terminally ill persons, if they, themselves, were asking to die. Then, in the 19th century, when the modern world became fixated on Darwin's "survival of the fittest", the term was co-opted with a different meaning--the killing of the "unfit", i.e., those deemed to be a burden on society. Although proponents claimed "euthanasia" was merciful, it was really a way of avoiding the responsibility and expense of caring for those in need. This is how animal wefarists have adopted the term, "euthanasia". But it's not euthanasia any more than the murder of "unfit" humans would be. Ellie

Hi Shirley, I'm sorry that you and Scrap have been homeless, and glad you've finally found an apartment. You say your landlord wants you to get rid of Scrap in 10 days. Is there a "no-pet clause" on your lease agreement? Ellie

Isn't it time to legislate,change laws, do something about the overbreeding of both dogs and cats.I believe not another dog or cat should be bred until every animal has a home.No one should be able to buy a dog or cat-adopt one that doesn't have a home.

Kimberley, you make some important points. I wish to follow up with a question for further thought. After we have adopted them all, to achieve the kind of respectful world you and we seek, would going back into breeding them be an ethical or workable idea? Here is an excerpt from an essay I wrote on the subject, called **Fit To Be Tamed**: *"Pet ownership is justified on the grounds that the pets benefit from a symbiosis with humanity that developed naturally over millennia. Notably, the various modern breeds of cat have been produced within the last two centuries. Today's breeders thrive on trends, so new breeds appear regularly. An essay displayed on a popular pet-food industry website states that pet ownership was uncommon in Europe until the end of the 17th century, and rarely seen outside of aristocratic households until the late 18th century. The essay explains, 'Pet keeping in its present form is probably a 19th century Victorian invention. At this time, it was perceived as a link with the natural world, which itself was no longer seen as threatening. It also allowed a visible demonstration of man's domination over nature.'"* [CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL ESSAY]( With best wishes and thanks for your post, Lee Hall,
Friends of Animals


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