Last week, my rabbit Hyzenthlay had half of her left front foot amputated due to a malignant tumor. She was remarkably mobile, even the next day, for having undergone such a severe surgery.
The biopsy results came back yesterday. We had determined that if they revealed that the cancer had continued to spread beyond the amputation site, we would have her euthanized because her quality of life would be enormously diminished. Although three-legged dogs can be rather content, because of a the way that a rabbit moves, the complete amputation of her leg would leave her very badly crippled.
Her brother Inlehain's death was sudden and therefore quite traumatic. But if we had to put her down (which we will, when and sadly not if, the cancer returns) she would have lived a full six years. That is a good life for a rabbit, and we were content with that possibility.
But as I spent all day yesterday on airplanes, I had plenty of time to think. And I got to thinking about how we justify the euthanasia of animals on the basis of pain and suffering (or anything else) and reject a similar rationale for the euthanasia of humans.
If we accept that humans have an afterlife, and animals do not (a premise that I do not share), then the death of an animal is more final than that of a human. So if anything, we should be even more inclined support euthanasia for humans than for animals.
How have we, as a society, made this distinction?
So I put the question to you, dear readers:
How do we justify the euthanasia of animals but reject it for humans?