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"Convenience euthanasia" question

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  • "Convenience euthanasia" question

    In reading over the dangerous horse euthanasia threads, I noticed the term "convenience euthanasia" coming up a lot. That made me wonder...

    How do YOU define "convenience euthanasia?" Does it always have a negative connotation?

    For me, having worked primarily with rescues over the years, I suppose that I have a more positive view of owners who take the responsibility of putting an animal down when they can't care for it (for whatever reason) as opposed to those who try to find the horse another home. A caveat: I'm thinking primarily of elderly horses who aren't strong candidates for finding a new home, but are still healthy. Young, fit horses are another story in my mind.

    Just curious to hear what others think...I'd be particularly interested to hear the opinions of practicing vets.

  • #2
    I think it depends. If you MUST rehome an animal and you have exhausted all the options and you cannot keep it (severe allergies that can't be treated, you've lost your home, you're severely ill or maybe even terminal and will not be there, you MUST move and your only option cannot accommodate the animal) then what's more responsible, putting the horse or dog or cat or whatever down? Leaving them at the pound (with small animals)? Dumping them by the side of the road?

    For me it has a negative connotation if you do it because the animal's just too much work, you got a dog and it turns out they don't use the toilet like a human, your kids lost interest in the kitty after a week, you discovered horses aren't bicycles, etc. Then I say suck it up and take care of it, don't kill it because you're stupid. Or FIND IT ANOTHER HOME.
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    • #3
      I think the term is pretty negative, but the action isn't always bad. Like, euthanizing a pasture sound horse if you can't find a suitable home for it and can't keep it. Or any horse, for that matter, but if it's sound and healthy you better be absolutely out of money and absolutely be unable to find a home. I don't think putting down a horse who is truly dangerous (provided all measures have been taken to retrain it) is bad. I also don't think euthanizing a horse rather than providing extensive veterinary services (like surgery) is bad.

      Euthanizing a horse because you're tired of him, or because you're just so sure that no one else can handle him, or whatever, is not okay, though.
      exploring the relationship between horse and human


      • #4
        Someone i know and really care for put her 2 horses down as she was getting on in years and didn't feel anyone could take care of them as she did.I still feel it was the wrong decision.She never asked any one if they could take them on.I always thought that the older mare would end her days here,she was about 20,and her daughter maybe 12.Both beautiful horses with so much life ahead of them.If there are NO alternatives then euthanasia is a viable option,but in this case it was wrong.


        • #5
          I really think that it depends on the circumstances. I own a 25 year old gelding that is servicably sound for light work. I am by no means wealthy but have the means to take care of him with much grumbling from my husband about the $$$. But neither myself or the DH (despite the concern over the $) would consider putting him down because he is healthy, happy, and enjoys his life. I have had people suggest to me that I put him down so that I can afford to do more things with my other horse. I wouldn't do that because I will not euthanize an animal simply because he is an inconvenience. If his health were to decline or something bad *knocking on wood* were to happen, I would carefully weigh my options. But in the meantime, my horses are my responsibilty and I take that very seriously. But I wouldn't judge someone else who had to make that decision. I think that it is a very personal decision and in the end, unless you are standing in that other person's shoes, it's hard to judge whether it was convenience or in the animal's best interest Today's economy adds a whole new issue to rehoming expensive lawn ornaments


          • #6
            I have a totally blind gelding, he's been blind I guess for 4 years now. As long as I am able to care for him correctly he will have a home for ever with ME. But, God forbid, anything should happen where I can no longer care for him or lose the farm, he will be put down. I will NOT have him have an uncertain future with anyone else. I don't care how well I've known them, how much money they have and that they care well for the animals they have. Once he is out of my hands his life and fate is out of my hands. I can not bear to think of him suffering somewhere. As much as we fight I love that stupid (actually very smart) horse with all my heart. It would hurt, hell I'm tearing up now just thinking about it! But I would do it.

            Had to put an old mare down with heaves and a gimpy hip, she was about 28 or so. I didn't want to do it, but she was starting to breathe hard again (after over a year with no symptoms.) I still feel guilty about that. Vet and boarders assured me it was time and one boarder told me under no uncertain terms she thought I should have put her down at the beginning of winter and was very surprised that I didn't. She did well through the winter though, the signs though started I think it was in January and we let her go.

            I also think if someone has a horse that is not servicably sound, they have been taking care of it for many years, and decide to put them down, there is no harm in that. You don't marry the horse. Yes you are obligated to care for it, and part of their life is their death in your hands. Horses have no concept of tomorrow or next week. They only know now. Hungry, eat. Tired, sleep. Energy, play. That is our burden to carry. If they had a good life for a few years, hand graze them, give them they're favorite treats (Babydoll when I put her down I literally opened the treat box and let her eat all she wanted, I fed her apples and carrots till she said no thanks I'm full! I wasn't going to worry about colic...made me so sad) scratch them in their favorite places, groom them softly then have the vet put them down.
            I want a signature but I have nothing original to say except: "STHU and RIDE!!!

            Wonderful COTHER's I've met: belleellis, stefffic, snkstacres and janedoe726.


            • #7
              I have heard the term used more than once on this board by people who believe that no horse should be put down, short of eminent deathof the already dying horse. So, I have heard it used as a "put down" name calling tactic, similar to the "slaughterette" slur.

              For that reason, when people use the term -it usually gets my hackles up.
              Luistano Stallion standing for 2013: Wolverine UVF


              • #8
                I dont know, I'm one of those people who euth'd her dangerous horse after trying to retrain her for 4 years. Ultimately she had a physical issue and was going downhill fast. If she didn't have that issue i'd probably have kept trying, she would've stayed in training, and maybe would've come out the other end ok. I won't ever know.

                But IMO, there is nothing convienent about choosing euthanasia, even for a troubled horse. I spent a really long time grappling with it, talking it over with many professionals- vets, farriers, trainers, and even a human therapist. Playing God is no fun, and maybe I'm not the norm, maybe its the Catholic guilt engrained in me, but it sucked, and it still sucks to this day, I think about her everyday.

                Maybe some people do use it as a disposal service- but everyone I've known to go that route it has been a heck of a road and the final decision not taken lightly at all.

                Financially, it is expensive- here, anyway, where it can cost $800-$1200 to euth and pick up the body. I don't consider that cheap or convienent.

                I also agree with those who say that euthanasia is better than the trip to the slaughter house.
                My blog: Change of Pace - Retraining a standardbred via dressage


                • #9
                  Euthanasia is preferable to chronic fear, starvation, intentional (or unintentional) neglect, and abuse.

                  We have a responsibility to our horses. If a horse is not useable as a riding (driving etc) or breeding horse due to high maintenance health problems, chronic physical or behavioral unsoundness, infertility or advanced age, there is a much much higher likelihood it will end up in a bad situation. Every time a horse like this changes hands it is at risk.

                  In the absence of LOCAL humane slaughter, euthanasia is the responsible choice when this sort of horse can no longer be maintained properly by its owner for whatever reason. IMHO rehoming a horse like this is irresponsible.


                  • #10
                    A girlfriend in her 60's had two mature TB's many years ago. The 25 year old was permanantly lame and his 23 pasture mate was sound. She made the decision to let the 25 year old one go and then went ahead and had the 23 year old mare go at the same time. She said the mare would be frantic without her buddy and she was mostly retired now anyway. Hard decision but she made the decision with her head and all the facts laid out in front of her.


                    • #11
                      For me "convenience euthanasia" was the Bichon mix puppy that was dropped off for euthanasia one day when I was working ER because they couldn't housetrain it......found that one a new home.....things like that. Young perfectly healthy dog.....normal dog behavior. Or too much shedding, or "I'm moving".....etc.

                      Smaller animals with medical issues aren't always a convenience euthanasia - some things are costly to treat and there's no guarantee if you treat that you will "fix" the problem. There are grey areas so for me it depends on the specific circumstance.

                      Horses are different - you can't control where they will end up after you have them unless you euthanize them, so sometimes it's the right answer......again it depends for me, but it's a lot harder (and more expensive) to deal with a 1000lb animal so it's harder for me to call equine euthanasia a "convenience" euthanasia.


                      • #12
                        I am looking at putting down a beautiful arabian,

                        He is only 15. 14 HH,.

                        Superbly trained,western,I have foxhunted him,and super trail horse,nothing spooks him.But he will kick at other horses on the trail,if you dont keep an eye on him. Goes first or last.

                        I can no longer ride him,he kills my back,I now ride a little spotted saddle horse.

                        He has to be kept separate from other horses,he was not cut until he was 10 or 11,he needs to be handled as a stallion.

                        When turned out he is VERY territorial,but is easy to catch,comes straight to the gate.

                        Quiet to clip,trim groom wash .....

                        Loves attention,could be ridden by a kid[with professional trainer] or old person like me.

                        He will nip.

                        I have tried to find him a home but have given up.

                        people think I am crazy when I tell them his problems and think they know better,till their horses get hurt by him.

                        He has just come back home again,I cant go through that again.

                        It is very sad,but I am too old to break up horsey fights.

                        I will not allow him to end up in a slaughter lot.
                        \"I have lived my life-it is nearly done-.I have played the game all round;But I freely admit that the best of my fun I owe it to Horse and Hound\".


                        • #13
                          I know of someone who is considering putting her horse down for fear of where it will end up because of his behavioral habits.

                          She has worked with several different instructors/trainers and this horse bucks and bucks hard to get her off. She has exhausted all efforts and he remains the same.

                          She doesn't want to sell him, and pass on his issues to someone else. Is afraid to send him to a sale barn as she is afraid he will be shipped to auction and then onwards...

                          The owner feels euthanasia is more humane than where this horse will probably end up.
                          MnToBe Twinkle Star: "Twinkie"

                          Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by Waterwitch View Post
                            Euthanasia is preferable to chronic fear, starvation, intentional (or unintentional) neglect, and abuse.

                            We have a responsibility to our horses. If a horse is not useable as a riding (driving etc) or breeding horse due to high maintenance health problems, chronic physical or behavioral unsoundness, infertility or advanced age, there is a much much higher likelihood it will end up in a bad situation. Every time a horse like this changes hands it is at risk.

                            In the absence of LOCAL humane slaughter, euthanasia is the responsible choice when this sort of horse can no longer be maintained properly by its owner for whatever reason. IMHO rehoming a horse like this is irresponsible.
                            Thanks, Waterwitch. You've summed up my feelings on the subject well; I've just been surprised at the vitriolic way the word seems to have been bandied about in recent threads. Wondered if I'd missed a culture shift or something, .


                            • #15
                              If someone wants to put their animal down no matter what the reason, they have the right to do so. It is not hurting the animal or abusive.
                              Pro Slaughter
                              Anti Parelli


                              • #16
                                if the animal is healthy and young with no apparent problems,it is like playing god.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by myrna View Post
                                  if the animal is healthy and young with no apparent problems,it is like playing god.
                                  How is it ever NOT playing God? If the animal is 30, in poor health and could go any day now, you're still playing God by deciding it will die this day and not tomorrow or next Tuesday.

                                  I don't see 'playing God' as being a bad thing. Anyone who takes another being into their care has pretty much signed up to do just that.


                                  • #18
                                    I wish there wasn't such a stigma attached to euthanizing unwanted horses.

                                    Ideally we could all find them caring, loving homes that give them everything they need. But there is just not. enough. homes. out there.

                                    So if you can't care for your horse anymore, and you're not 100% positive that you can find a home that would be willing to care for them adequately, then it would be best just to put them down.

                                    It is much more courageous to make the decision to end a horse's life humanely, kindly, and with dignity, than it is to schlep the horse off to some undetermined fate. Because most likely, that fate will not be a good one. Too many horses end up abused, neglected or in slaughterhouses because their originally well-meaning owners convinced themselves that a home was a good one, or that a horse would have an OK shot at auction- rather than being strong enough to make the harder decision that would ultimately in all likelihood be in the horse's best interest.
                                    Last edited by breakthru; Apr. 9, 2010, 01:12 PM.


                                    • #19
                                      Well said breakthru. There are only so many homes and too many horses. Just not enough resources to go around. I also think this is better then slaughter or ending up in a bad situation.
                                      Eight Fences Farm. Mansfield, MA


                                      • #20
                                        waterwitch and breakthru have stated my position on the issue quite well.

                                        Although I have not ever found myself in the position to have one euthanized for anything except health reasons, I certainly would do that before I'd send an old horse or one with lameness or temperament issues off to a very uncertain (likely bad) future.
                                        Visit Sonesta Farms website at or our FaceBook page at Also showing & breeding Cavalier King Charles Spaniels.