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Should We?

April 2, 2013


“There are many things we can do, but the question we must ask ourselves is should we?” This beautiful quote came into my life Monday March 25th as my veterinarian examined my thirteen year old dog’s obliterated ACL. She was old, overweight, had hip dysplasia and now a torn ACL. Surgery would require six months of recovery with a large possibility that her other ACL would blow due to all the pressure put on it during recovery. In a young dog it wouldn’t have been a question, they would have performed surgery and allowed it to live a long happy life, but my dog was old and fixing her only to watch her break again seemed cruel.

My family deliberated for the week, each of us saying goodbye in our own special way; each of us knowing that the end was near. My mother repeated the quote from our vet over and over as if to convince herself that letting go was the right thing to do. While I know that taking my beloved Molly out of her misery was the right thing to do, I can’t let go of this quote. The vet was talking about the many things we can do to help my dog, but I keep thinking that euthanasia is just another “thing we can do”. It’s something that science has granted us the power to use, but how do we know we should use it?

Euthanasia is illegal in humans, yet it is considered kind in animals. How did we decide upon these rules? I feel that science is often at the root of very complex situations but I wonder how often the question of if and how we should use our power is brought up. How many inventions are created each that could be potentially dangerous and who gets to monitor them and their uses.

It is recorded that Albert Einstein regretted participating in the making of the atomic bomb, but did any of the scientists question it before it was used? If they hadn’t created it it is likely that Germany or Japan would have, but nuclear threats are still prevalent today, something that the leaders of the projects probably didn’t think about.

Clearly inserting a chemical catheter into an old do is orders of magnitudes less severe than the invention and use of the atomic bomb. However, the use of euthanasia started me thinking of all the different inventions that have already occurred and those to come. How will we know which of the many things we should do, and which we should just let go?

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