Over the past week (Sept. 2009) the Winnipeg Humane Society has been engaged in a controversial bit of name calling. WHS executive director, Bill McDonald, was quoted as having called no-kill shelters warehouses for animals that aren't being adopted because nobody wants to adopt them. When asked to apologize McDonald went on the offensive and claimed that "so called" no-kill shelters don't want to acknowledge that "euthanasia" is a sad fact of life here in Winnipeg. I don't want to get involved in the debate over who is or isn't right. I do, however, want to convince everyone to use the correct terminology.
Euthanasia means mercy killing. When you euthanize, you end suffering. You put a being out of its misery. Ending the life of a creature that is suffering is rightly called euthanasia. In our society it is deemed humane to euthanize animals for which there is no other way to end suffering.
Ending the life of a healthy, adoptable animal, solely to create space for more animals, IS NOT EUTHANASIA. Ending the life of a sick animal with a treatable illness or condition is not euthanasia. Ending the life of a non-symptomatic animal with an untreatable disease or condition is not euthanasia. These acts are destroying, putting down, or killing. The WHS kills thousands of animals every year in order to make space for more animals. They apply the word euthanasia to this space clearing in an attempt to make it appear humane, because our society does not consider the act of killing animals to create space for more animals to be humane.
Unfortunately, applying incorrect terminology clouds the issue and makes it difficult to follow whatever logic might be in use by the different parties to an argument. The Humane Society calls its space clearing "euthanasia", thereby implying that it is humane to end the life of an animal that is not suffering. The act may be done humanely, but that does not make it a humane act. The use of the word "euthanasia" is, therefore, inappropriate.
I am asking all concerned to PLEASE FIND ANOTHER EUPHEMISM for what the WHS does when it kills animals to clear space for more animals. Stop clouding the issue by using a word that means something entirely different.