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Posted by on Mar 15, 2010 in Society | 14 comments

An Interesting Hypothetical For Dog Lovers

I was listening to my morning radio show (Armstrong and Getty) today when an interesting hypothetical came up.

The discussion began when the hosts were talking about the fact that one of them had just become a father last week. He and his wife are big dog lovers and have a couple at home. One of the dogs was adopted from a shelter pretty much hours before he was set to be put down.

The dog is, in the words of the host, a bit nuts. He’s one of those dogs who can be really friendly most of the time but once in a while he either gets really depressed or really grumpy. In the grumpy moods he tends to bite and growl at people for no reason.

With the prospect of a new baby in the house he and his wife knew they’d have to make a tough choice, and while they hoped against hope that the dog would be able to handle the new baby it does not look like it will work out. As much as they love dogs, obviously the baby comes first.

Since the dog is old and prone to biting, they don’t really see any viable option in terms of adopting it out, so they have reached the tough choice of having to put the dog down. The hosts discussed how, while it was a tough choice, at least the dog got 10 years of life it would not have otherwise had (if it had not been adopted 10 years ago).

This led to some idle speculation by the new dad about the fact that millions of dogs and cats are put down every year at animal shelters. He mused about a schoolteacher who might choose to adopt a dog at the start of summer and then would have it put to sleep at the end of the summer when school began. His intellectual point being that even there the dog would have 3 months of life and love that it otherwise would not have gotten.

He also said that from an emotional standpoint he himself could not do such a thing, that indeed his heart was breaking over having to put one pet down. But that arguably the person who adopted 10 pets over ten years was being kinder than the person who adopted no pets because those ten animals would have at least had some joy while they would otherwise have been put down (the assumption here being you adopted a pet who was hours away from being put to sleep).

Personally I am a huge animal lover and I know that I could never do this, but from a purely intellectual standpoint his argument does seem to make sense. Better a few months of joy than straight to the grave.

So what do you all think ?