The decision to put a family pet to sleep through euthanasia is never easy. If you have had to go through this process yourself, you probably know the pain it causes in the heart. Sometimes losing a pet is like losing a best friend. But when their life is full of pain and suffering, often euthanasia is the option vets want us to turn to.
The Bible does not say anything specifically about pet euthanasia, but does mention animals and how we should treat them. From this, we can draw some biblical principles to give us an idea as to how God would like us to approach the issue of putting a pet down.
Genesis 1:26 talks about how mankind has ultimate stewardship over the animals of the earth: "Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our own image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth."
Basically what this means is that we have full authority over all animals. While this includes the right to kill animals for food (Genesis 9:2) or protect ourselves from animals that threaten people's lives (Exodus 21:28-35), this also means we are to care for them with dignity and mercy (Proverbs 12:10).
God takes our responsibility to being merciful to animals serious, so much so that being merciful to animals was an exemption to the command not to work on the Sabbath. Luke 14:5 says, "If one of you has...an ox that falls into a well on the Sabbath day, will you not immediately pull him out?"
Still, when a beloved pet is ailing, making that hard decision about whether or not to put it down is heart-wrenching. When all reasonable options have been tried, but the animal is still suffering, the most merciful thing is to euthanize it, and there is nothing wrong with this decision.
You are, of course, allowed to do what you can to preserve your pet's life. But don't let yourself feel guilty if you know that the best thing you can do is to euthanize your animal when their health is failing. You have that authority, and as hard as it is, that is sometimes the best way you can be a good caretaker of your pet.
ALSO SEE: Will my pet go to Heaven?
Genesis 1:26 talks about how mankind has ultimate stewardship (authority, caretaking) over the animals of the earth (Genesis 9:2; Exodus 21:28-35). But this responsibility also means we are to care for them with dignity and mercy (Proverbs 12:10; Luke 14:5). When all reasonable options have been tried, but the animal is still suffering, the most merciful thing is to euthanize, and there is nothing wrong with this decision. Hard as it is, sometimes that is the best way you can be a good caretaker of your pet.
Heidi Joelle is an executive assistant by day and a writer, editor, and reader by night. She can be coaxed from the house by the sound of a good adventure or traveling somewhere new. Her sidekick Smokey the Saint Bernard is rarely far off, usually pretending he's asleep.