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Pets and PeopleThe Ethics of Companion Animals$
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Christine Overall

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780190456085

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2017

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190456085.001.0001

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The Euthanasia of Companion Animals

The Euthanasia of Companion Animals

(p.264) 18 The Euthanasia of Companion Animals
Pets and People

Michael Cholbi

Oxford University Press

Euthanasia of companion animals is far less ethically controversial than human euthanasia. However, modeling the ethics of euthanizing companion animals on the ethics of euthanizing human beings is implausible. Companion animal euthanasia is better categorized as a form of potentially justifiable killing, resting on our duties to protect or promote animal wellbeing. The comparative account of the value of death provides the best account of when prematurely ending a companion animal’s life through medical means is morally justified, namely, when a companion animal’s dying would be neither a benefit nor a harm to it. Indeed, knowingly failing to euthanize a companion animal at or near that optimal time fails to respect such an animal and can treat it merely as a means (though not in the usual Kantian sense). The chapter concludes by reflecting on why companion animal guardians are specifically permitted to choose to euthanize companion animals.

Keywords:   euthanasia, justifiable killing, value of death, comparative account, treating as means, animal guardian

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