Euthanasia around the world: ‘quality of life should be the priority’

  • Cultural and religious barriers can be overcome to allow horses to be euthanased humanely throughout the world according to equine professionals.

    In the UK and Ireland it is the responsibility of the owner to decide if and when a horse should be put down.

    However, many countries in Europe only allow horses to be euthanased on veterinary advice. These include France, Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy.

    There are also areas across the world where equine euthanasia is rejected for cultural or religious reasons.

    “The anthropology of euthanasing animals is a passionate and complex issue,” said vet Josep Subriana.

    “Religion is often mixed with tradition and in some areas like west Africa, the belief of animism — that all living things have a spirit or soul — is also a factor.

    “Generally speaking, Islamic, Sub-Saharan, Buddhist and Hindu countries tend to be more reluctant to euthanase, along with less developed countries or areas — but in these places it is not always linked to religion.”

    Mr Subriana added that providing free euthanasia services can encourage owners to consider it as an option for their animals.

    “Sometimes offering economic compensation to those who have had their horse put to sleep can be effective,” he said.

    “Education is also important, encouraging people to see euthanasia as a compassionate act that is in the animal’s best interest.”

    This year videos emerged of amputation of parts of the lower legs of Middle Eastern endurance horses (pictured, top).

    Comments accompanying the Kuwaiti post state that amputation allows owners to avoid euthanasia in cases of traumatic leg injury.

    Roly Owers of World Horse Welfare said: “When handled carefully and with the best interests of the animal at heart, it is possible to overcome these delicate issues. Above all else we have to be a strong voice, stating unequivocally that an animal’s quality of life has to be the primary driver for making decisions around euthanasia.”

    Ref: H&H 3/12/15

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