Why do we use the term ‘killed’ instead of ‘euthanised’?

The dictionary definition of ‘euthanasia’ is:

The humane taking of a life to end irremediable suffering.

In a pound or shelter setting, an animal that is suffering from a hopelessly terminal illness, an incurable medical condition, or very dangerous behaviours that are not able to be treated would be ‘euthanised’ to end his life as painlessly as possible.

However, the vast majority of pets entering pounds are not suffering from a terminal illness, incurable medical condition, or untreatable behaviour issues. And yet, every year 26% of dogs and 60% of cats that remain unclaimed in Australia’s pounds do not leave the pound alive.

Pets can be killed at the pound for many treatable and avoidable reasons

  • Common and curable conditions and diseases (such as ringworm and kennel cough)
  • Minor or major non-fatal injuries
  • Pets that are young, unweaned or senior
  • Common behaviour issues that can easily be corrected with rehabilitation
  • They have reached the end of their ‘holding time’ (sometimes just 72 hours) and they are killed to make room for more pets coming into the pound.

Even the healthiest, well-balanced pets can easily develop an illness or behavioural problem whilst being held at the pound - due to poor disease control procedures, lack of bedding and temperature control, no enrichment or exercise - putting them at risk of being killed too.

While it’s more confronting to use the term ‘killed’, sadly, it’s a far more accurate description of what is happening to thousands of pets in Australia’s pounds.

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