95-263 Waimakua Dr.
Mililani, HI 96789
April 4, 2017
The Honorable David Y. Ige
Governor, State of Hawaii
Honolulu, HI 96813
Dear Governor David Y. Ige,
What draws the line between animal cruelty and animal welfare? “Euthanasia is defined as the act of putting to death painlessly or allowing to die, as by withholding extreme medical measures, a person or animal suffering from an incurable, especially painful, disease or condition” (dictionary.com). Millions of healthy animals are being euthanized per year around the United States and thousands of which occur on Oahu alone at the Hawaiian Humane Society. Euthanasia is administered to animals when they are very ill, are aggressive or have behavioral problems, or simply because there is no room in the shelter for the animals (Gray par. #). The Hawaiian Humane Society does euthanasia in accordance with the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) guidelines which consists of many different methods. These methods consist of “inhaled agents” like carbon monoxide, nitrogen, and carbon dioxide, or “decapitation, electrocution, or gunshot” just to name a very few. (AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals: 2013 Edition pg #). The State of Hawaii should forbid euthanasia on animals, with exceptions, because the number of animals being euthanized per year are way too great, causing unnecessary pain upon animals is morally wrong, and animals deserve rights that will protect them.
First of all, the State of Hawaii should forbid euthanasia because a great deal of animals are being killed a year on Oahu. According to Chris D’Angelo, a journalist for Hawaii Tribune Herald, “A total of 10,197 animals–just shy of 28 per day–were put down by HIHS [Hawaiian Island Humane Society] island wide in 2014. Cats accounted for 41 percent of the total, while dogs made up 26 percent” (par. 4). A large sum of animals are being killed yearly, and daily over half in which are healthy dogs and cats. The annual number of animals being put down by the HHS (Hawaiian Humane Society) is too high. There are better humane solutions to reduce the number of animals being killed by euthanasia per year. An example of a better solution to euthanasia is “’good palliative care’…a type of care that focuses on relieving and preventing suffering instead of cures” (Davidson, par. 18). This type of care acts like hospice care, except for animals. It’s not just for end-of-life cases but for any and all animals suffering. This is just one of the many alternatives to euthanasia.
Secondly, not only are too many animals being killed, but the unnecessary pain inflicted on animals is morally wrong, which is why Hawaii should… Andrea Baer, a journalist for the local newspaper Honolulu Weekly, interviewed Lynn Oakley, a former employee at the HHS. In the interview, Oakley stated that “…dogs killed via production line, some will vomit as a reaction to the chemicals. Dogs that have reacted to the tranquilizer are flopped over and a fatal needle jab to the heart is roughly administered. Some dogs are visibly straining to get away, choking themselves in the process” (Baer, par. 3). In other words, what humans don’t see that happens behind closed doors is that the euthanasia process puts animals in excruciating and unnecessary pain, which is morally wrong. Putting animals through so much pain is morally wrong because although they may not have a sense of what’s happening to them or why, they have feelings, and they feel pain, and to knowingly put any animal through pain and to see them suffer is wrong. Humans are convinced that euthanasia is peaceful and pain-free for their loved animal companions, but it is far from it, and if the public really saw and understood the pain animals go through, they would not agree with euthanizing animals. No animal should have to suffer through such an inhumane death.
Finally, the idea of euthanasia interferes with the idea that animals deserve rights in order to protect them, which is why Hawaii should…. In her book, Kim Evans maintains that, “All beings who are ‘subject-of-a-life with an experiential welfare’ have inherent value that qualifies them to be treated with respect and gives them a right to that treatment.” (25) In other words, living beings whom have conscious awareness and self-identity deserve moral rights. Animals are a part of nature, and they weren’t put on Earth solely for the purpose of human pleasure and disposal. Animals’ rights deserve to be recognized in order to protect themselves from the inhumane acts toward them by humans.
On the other hand, some may view euthanasia as a primary solution to the overpopulation of animals on Oahu, and some may argue that animals don’t deserve rights because they don’t have a sense of morality and don’t recognize rights (cite source). Although plausible, euthanasia is not the only solution to the problem of animals overpopulating Oahu. Another very effective solution to this problem is sterilization. The spaying and neutering of animals prohibits them from effectively reproducing, therefore reducing the rate of overpopulation of animals on Oahu. OSPCA’s website states that “Sterilization is the key to humanely reducing pet overpopulation” (“Help Us Build It” par. 9). The best way to humanely control overpopulation isn’t euthanasia, but instead sterilizing the animals. The second argument that animals don’t have a sense of morality or that they don’t recognize rights, is of course true, but animals’ regards to morality do not conflict with humans’ sense of morality. Humans understand that it’s wrong to cause pain to animals. There are laws that forbid inhumane acts towards animals that are punishable by fine and/ or jail time (Animal Legal and Historical Center, par. 21). Hawaii’s laws against animal cruelty is a message that inflicting unnecessary pain on animals is not humane, otherwise it would be recognized as an effective and moral means of elimination of animals.
To summarize, I believe that the Hawaiian Humane Society should partake in the dissolution of euthanasia on animals and that euthanasia should be banned, with exceptions, in the State of Hawaii. I say “with exceptions” because under certain circumstances, such as if an animal were in obvious, excruciating, incurable pain or illness that causes a poor quality of life, it would be morally right to terminate the animal to end all suffering. However, I do not believe that healthy animals, or animals with “behavioral problems” should be put down. Animals at shelters gain anxiety and fearfulness which can result in behavioral problems such as food aggression, resource guarding, or destructiveness which can rectified with patience and love. Animals should not be held accountable for their instinctive behavior. All in all, the State of Hawaii should ban euthanasia on animals because the number of animals being euthanized, which are healthy, are too great, it causes unnecessary pain on animals, and lastly, animals deserve to have rights that are recognized by humans to preserve their safety and equal right to life.
Animal Legal and Historical Center. ”Hawaii Revised Statutes Annotated. Division 5.
Crimes and Criminal Proceedings. Title 37. Hawaii Penal Code. Chapter 711. Offenses Against Public Order.” Michigan State University. 2017. 1 Apr. 2017.
“AVMA Guidelines for the Euthanasia of Animals:2013 Edition.” American Veterinary Medical Association, 2013. Web. 1 Apr. 2017.
Baer, Andrea. “Helmet Shelter.” Honolulu Weekly. 23 Oct. 2003. Web. 9 Mar. 2017.
Davidson, John. “Author looks at alternatives to pet euthanasia.” Daily Camera. The Denver Post, 19 Oct. 2012. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.
D’Angelo, Chris. “Humane society euthanized more than 10k animals last year.” Hawaii Tribune Herald. Oahu Publications, Inc., 23 Apr. 2015. Web. 12 Mar. 2017.
Gray, Allison. “3 Big Reasons Why Animal Shelters Euthanize Pets.” Petful. Petful, 20 Feb. 2015. Web. 2 Apr. 2017.
Evans, Kim. “The Animal Rights Debate.” Animal Rights. Detroit: Thomson/ Gale, 2004. Print.
“Help Us Build It.” About. OahuSPCA, 2017. Web. 18 Mar. 2017.