Target: USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service Director Laura Mackenzie
Goal: End unnecessary euthanasia of healthy pets for the fulfillment of their owners’ last wishes
Under U.S. law, pets are considered the property of their owners. Though they are afforded protections against abuse even if the abuser is the person responsible for them, the rights of the nation’s pets are limited. If an animal’s owner stipulates in her will that she would like to be buried with that animal, it is the obligation of anyone entrusted with executing that will to ensure the euthanasia is carried out, regardless of the pet’s health or age.
Connie Ley died in November 2014 and since that time, the fate of her German shepherd, Bela, has been uncertain. In her will, Ley stipulated that Bela should be put down, cremated and buried alongside her, or given to a no-kill animal shelter. The name of the will’s executor has not been released and no one knows which of the two drastically different fates will befall Bela.
Best Friends Animal Society has stated its wish to take Bela to its sanctuary to live out his days, but ultimately, they have no power to save him. There have been instances when judges refuse euthanasia in wills, deeming it unethical, unnecessary or against public policy, but the statutes separating the last wishes of the deceased and the rights of a pet are not nationally codified, and a legal will typically preempts the outcry of the living in such cases.
Wills are not the only circumstances that might cause a healthy pet to die unnecessarily, but they do support a precedent for the legal euthanasia of healthy animals in a different way than breed restrictions or shelter population control do. Killing animals based on an individual request as an enforcement of the rights of ownership leads one to question how much difference there really is between abuse and death on an owner’s request.
Sign this petition urging lawmakers to stop punishing animals for their caretakers’ death.
Dear Ms. Mackenzie,
U.S. law considers pets the property of people, subject to their wishes, indistinguishable in many ways from inanimate objects in the individual’s possession. When the owner dies, the animal is even subject to the stipulations in that person’s will, including unnecessary euthanasia, regardless of the animal’s health. That the last will and testament of an individual preempts an animal’s life is made all the more confusing in light of animal rights laws, which make it illegal to abuse that same property.
While judges have decided in multiple cases that the ethics surrounding unnecessary euthanasia outweighed the owner’s wishes, there is no protection in place against such practices other than a few kind judges. Animals deserve rights to not just their quality of life, but their life itself.
I urge you to support regulations against the euthanasia of healthy pets as per the stipulation of a final will.
[Your Name Here]