Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Grappling with Euthanasia

Because she was euthanized, Bumpus' death brought the issue of 'mercy killing' to the surface for me. In recent years, I have changed my opinion about it as it concerns people. I no longer believe that euthanasia is appropriate, for all the reasons I assume the Catholic Church offers. Death is God's realm and we are in no way qualified to determine when to end of our own or someone else's journey. I am a big fan of the culture of life concept. But what about dogs and other animals? Is it merciful to take their life if they are truly suffering? This is the second time I have participated in such a thing. While there may be salvific aspects to human suffering, is it the case for creatures?
When Jake first told me that his dog likely had a brain tumor and had had a stroke of some sort, he was already thinking ahead to the decision that inevitably exists when there is no medical coverage for such a situation. Money vs. quality of life vs. relief from suffering. My response was that if he chose not to take medical steps (ie MRI scans and Chemo and Radiation, et al.) then the litmus would be whether Bumpus is in actual pain. Not- "she is a pain in the ass because she is incontinent." Not- "I can't stand to see her this way." In other words, separating the selfish from the compassionate.
I honestly believe that Jake did that. He handled the inconvenience, the sadness, the frustrations, for months before the last, horrible, episodes. His decision to have her put to sleep was coming from a place of great love and compassion. He knew it was going to be a huge loss, for both him and his remaining dog.

So, is euthanasia wrong for animals, as I believe it is for humans? Or does God invite us, in this instance, to act on his behalf.... showing mercy and compassion to the creatures in our care?

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