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Message From The Founder

Killing: It’s not just euthanasia anymore!

Here’s a thought: Use the right words and improve communication! We might even clarify some of the issues! This is fairly simple advice, but somehow, the humane community has gone astray with the word euthanasia and has inhibited the progress of no-kill. Look in any dictionary and you will find the definition of euthanasia: The act or method of causing death painlessness, so as to end suffering: to deal with those dying of incurable, painful diseases.

A good death to relieve suffering. Now, what does it mean to you when an animal shelter reports that 90% of their animals were “euthanized” in a given period? Do you seriously believe that 90% of their animals were dying of incurable, painful diseases? They were KILLED, while possibly a small percentage are truly euthanized for clinical reasons.

When we understand the misuse of the word euthanasia historically in animal welfare, then we understand the honesty of the word “kill”, and then we understand what “no-kill” means. No-kill is the absence of killing healthy, adoptable animals. When language is used literally to describe a situation, then readers and listeners know what is truthful. I am convinced that the failure to remedy the millions of homeless animal deaths and shelters is because a soft word had been used for decades to describe their killing. Euthanasia is a feel-good word, a sad necessity word that leaves little doubt as to its appropriateness. And you can bet there are uneducated people who think, “It is OK to euthanize my dog, just don’t kill it,” when they relinquish their unwanted pet to a shelter.

My recommendation is that we train ourselves to respond with a knee-jerk reaction anytime the word euthanasia is used. Are we literally speaking the truth when we say euthanasia? Or are we using a cover-up word for the kill? Listen to yourselves as you habitually say euthanasia when you mean to kill. Every time we report that healthy animals were euthanized, we have delayed the process of saving animals’ lives. I normally include this caveat in my presentations, and it is surprising how many caregivers have never analyzed the use of words in this business. “Euthanasia” is the crux of the no-kill issue, and understanding the terminology helps us to understand the goal!

Brenda Beck – President
Pets & Animals in Distress / PAW